Even as the number of coal-fired power plants under development worldwide declines, increased coal use in China and a proposal to boost capacity could imperil global climate change goals, researchers have warned
The industry’s powerful China Electrical Council called this month for ramping up the national coal power capacity to as much as 1,300 gigawatts by 2030, a 30 percent increase compared to today’s levels.
With nearly 1,000 GW in operation, China accounts for about half the world’s coal-fired power, with the United States (259 GW) and India (221 GW) a distant second and third, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker.
Scientists have said that the use of coal — the most carbon-intensive of fossil fuels — must decline sharply if humanity is to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.
A major UN science report in October said primary energy from coal would need to be virtually phased out by mid-century to have a reasonable chance of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The 195-nation Paris Agreement urges nations to cap the rise in temperature to “well below” 2C.
But recent studies have shown that even a 2C increase will profoundly alter Earth’s climate, boosting the intensity and frequency of deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms.
“We need to radically phase down coal plant use over the next decade to keep on track for Paris climate goals,” Christine Shearer, an analyst for Global Energy Monitor, told AFP.