Here’s the sequel to the game-changing climate deal between China and the United States: the Chinese State Council announced last week that it would cap its use of coal in 2020 at a peak of 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption.
“This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centred around building a coal plant or more a week,” Joe Romm writes on the Climate Progress blog. “Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy.”
Romm lays out four reasons to expect China to meet and even beat the 2020 pledge. The country is likely to go all-in now that they’ve committed to GHG reductions. Its leaders “already accept and understand the reality of climate science more than most.” Urban air pollution creates the “domestic political motivation” for peak coal. And meeting or beating the CO2 commitment will be “critical to maintaining their political influence worldwide” and their emerging global leadership in clean energy technology.
“China’s game-changing deal with the United States is already dramatically changing their energy policy and their emissions trajectory,” Romm writes. “China has every incentive to beat their targets, and the smart money says they will.”