China holds the key to cancelling half the world’s new coal project plans


With 84 of the world's governments having either committed not to permit new coal plants or not having any plans for such facilities, the central role China and five other nations can play in consigning global coal use to history has been revealed in a new report.

The No New Coal by 2021, The Collapse of the Global Coal Pipeline study published today by three environmental thinktanks and lobbyists, has garnered plenty of media attention with its claim there has been a 76% reduction in plans for new coal-fired generation facilities since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015.

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The report, compiled by staff from London-based climate thinktank E3G, cross-city peer and lobby group Ember, and San Francisco-based fossil fuel plant tracker Global Energy Monitor, stated China is home to 55% of the world pipeline for new coal facilities and, together with India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, and Bangladesh, jointly accounts for 82% of plans for new coal plants.

With the report's authors claiming Chinese lenders are behind 76% of Africa's new-coal pipeline, as part of more than 40 GW of coal-fired generation capacity state bodies are financing across 20 nations, the nation is described as “the last remaining major provider of public finance for overseas coal projects.”

On the credit side of the Chinese climate account, the report noted, the nation has cancelled 484 GW of coal plants since Paris, resulting in a 74% retreat in approvals for new coal facilities.

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U.K. cabinet minister Alok Sharma has called on policymakers to make history at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November by ending coal-fired generation – although his message has been undermined by the fact colleague Robert Jenrick is due to assess the merits of proposals for a coking coal mine in Cumbria, northwest England.

The global new-coal report has highlighted 16 nations which have plans for just one new coal plant apiece, and who can, therefore, add to the momentum by deciding to phase out the fossil fuel, with Africa supplying nine countries: Ethiopia, Niger, Morocco, Madagascar, Djibouti, Eswatini, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Thailand and Cambodia are also on the list, along with Australia and Papua New Guinea, Mexico, and Poland.


However, with five of those countries – Australia, Mexico, Poland, Thailand, and Cambodia – listed among 14 global “laggards” highlighted by the report, there appears to be more lobbying to be done. Elsewhere, the study criticized a lack of progress in Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Brazil, Mongolia, Laos, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Some 19 nations were described as “leaders” in the movement to phase out coal, including a rare bit of good PR for the generals in charge of Myanmar, whose regime sits alongside the U.K., Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Egypt, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Malaysia, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Senegal, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Ghana, and Namibia.

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