China coal mine approvals surge despite climate pledges

From Reuters

David Stanway, Muyu Xu

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Approvals for new coal mine construction in China have surged in 2019, government documents showed, with Beijing expecting consumption of the commodity to rise in the coming years even as it steps up its fight against smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

Long-term cuts in coal consumption are a key part of China’s energy, environment and climate goals, but the fivefold increase in new mine approvals in the first-half of 2019 suggests China’s targets still provide ample room for shorter-term growth.

China’s energy regulator gave the go-ahead to build 141 million tonnes of new annual coal production capacity from January to June, compared to 25 million tonnes over the whole of last year, Reuters analysis of approval documents showed.

The projects included new mines in the regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Shanxi and Shaanxi that are part of a national strategy to consolidate output at dedicated coal production “bases”, as well as expansions of existing collieries, the National Energy Administration (NEA) documents showed.

The NEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beijing aims to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its overall energy mix to 15% by the end of next year from around 14.3% currently, and to 20% by 2030. It cut the share of coal to 59% last year, down from 68.5% in 2012

It has also promised to adopt the “highest possible ambition” when it reviews its climate change pledges next year, with one government think tank recommending China imposes a mandatory cap on coal consumption in its 2021-2025 five-year plan.

But while smog-prone regions like Hebei and Beijing have already cut coal use and shut hundreds of small mines and power plants, China is still allowing for significant increases in coal production and coal-fired power generation.

That has piled pressure on utilities to use clean combustion technology.

Lauri Myllyvirta, senior energy analyst with environmental group Greenpeace, said many of the newly approved projects would likely replace small or depleted old mines.

“However, it is alarming that China’s energy planning seems to be driving at roughly maintaining current levels of coal output for the coming decade or two, which is very hard to reconcile with the goal of the Paris agreement (on climate change),” he said.

“Especially given that oil and gas consumption is still increasing, it’s imperative that coal use starts falling again after rebounding for the past three years.”

Chinese coal output rose 2.6% in the first-half of 2019 to 1.76 billion tonnes.

Full Reuters Article

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56 thoughts on “China coal mine approvals surge despite climate pledges

  1. Did you hear about the 2 new Chinese restaurants that opened up? Won Hung Lo and Wee Sukem Yung.

  2. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of the Chinese! Their decision-makers obviously have been able to understand the science which shows that fossil fuels are not the bogey that GreenFleece thinks. The problem is not CO2, but the particulate emissions, which are being reduced by the use of improved combustion technology.
    The Chinese know that we need MORE CO2, not less! I am no admirer of Chinese politics, but in this matter they are so correct – as is POTUS Trump!

    • The Chinese have a history of making promises to others that they do not intend to keep. Maintaining control over their population is their governments primary concern so that they can sustain the oppression that keeps them in power. Running out of energy is a sure way for a government to loose control which seems to be what the UNFCCC and its alarmist followers want. The difference is that for the Chinese, the revolution they are trying to avoid is towards freedom, while the revolution the alarmists want will take freedoms away.

      • Communists or, broadly speaking, the left. They ALL look to Marx. Look at what’s happening to Hong Kong right now and what will happen. Look at Venezuela. Same boat. It’s why they’re always global. Globalism is really socialism and vice versa and always has been since Marx, even if they do a really, really good job at not making it look so. Always temporarily, anyway. Environ mentalism, coincidentally, or uncoincidentally, totally parallels that. Geeh, by golly!

  3. The Chinese and the Russians know that ‘Global Warming/Climate Change’ is total nonsense and so they are carrying on with business as usual while the EU and USA go nuts.

      • “Chris Uhlmann jumped ship from Aunty to Nine after his initial articles at the time and we can draw our own conclusions about why”

        Could somebody please translate that senence into English?

        • Yes Walter although Chris was no skeptic, like James Hansen recommending nukes he would have been a heretic at the ABC for daring to critique the climate changers’ prescriptions with wind and solar power. Hence the eventual shift to a private media group like Nine-
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Entertainment_Co.
          who have to be much more accountable to mainstream audiences instead of the usual suspects that have infiltrated our public broadcaster like elsewhere.

          In the final analysis it’s their lunar prescriptions that will bring the climate changers down as once the aircons go off seriously on a large scale in summer the obvious question will arise- What else were we sold a pup with? It’s just a matter of time now as trying to fix the backlog of unreliables with batteries is cost prohibitive and a major time problem in any case. Already in South Australia I’m paying AUD 51.2c/Kwhr peak rate (around 35c USD) and the pips are already squeaking with poor folks but the rest of Oz is going down the same mad path.

          What price battery back up for their unreliables and when is their insurmountable problem now. Suck on this along with the solar duck curve climate changers and true believers-
          https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2019/june

  4. Anyone that believes China intends to adhere to the Paris Agreement is delusional or challenged mentally.

    • They most certainly will adhere to their Paris Agreement commitments, which was to continue increasing emissions for 15 years with no attempts to curtail them.

    • The Chinese never promised to reduce fossil fuel development.

      China’s plan, as told to Obama, was that China would continue increasing fossil fuel usage, especially coal, until 2030.
      Then China might consider lowering emissions.

      Basically their promise was to keep using as much fossil fuel as they need.

      China announced it intends to achieve peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and to make its best effort to peak early, according to a joint announcement made by President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama in Beijing on Wednesday.
      It’s the first time that China has set a time frame to cap its emissions. The nation also committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel energy to about 20 percent by 2030.
      At the same time, Obama announced a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions between 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, a step forward from its previous pledge to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.”

      My bolding;
      The only commitment China made was to increase “share of non-fossil fuel energy”.
      Summarized, China expects to have sufficient nuclear generating plants completed by 2030, that will allow China to reduce dependency upon fossil fuels.

      China’s whole wind-solar renewable energy is:
      • to keep their civilians gainfully employed,
      • to improve their technical skills
      • to obtain and hopefully exceed global technical knowledge, skill and manufacturing.
      • to sell renewable installations globally.
      • to negotiate turning some of those global installations into China’s bases and/or military bases.

      What is most worrisome is China’s toxic chemical disposal.
      A solar company got the democrat Administration of Virginia to agree to renewable installations.
      The company then spent over half a year pushing residents in our county to allow their supervisors to approve the permits for a 4,500 acre solar plant.

      We’d get flyers every few days telling us how wonderful a solar plant is.
      At least once a week, they sent a flyer that told us how wonder and safe cadmium telluride solar panels are.

      Yeah yeah yeah, every time some one complains about solar panel toxic waste, multiple people tell that commenter that silicon solar panels are not toxic.
      Then why did that company spend so much time telling citizens how safe their cadmium telluride panels are?
      One company representative even used the claim that they were using cadmium telluride panels at his hometown; in Germany.

      Cadmium telluride MSDS

      Safety Information
      Safety Information GHS Hazard Statements
      • H302 – Harmful if swallowed
      • H312 – Harmful in contact with skin
      • H332 – Harmful if inhaled
      • H410 – Very toxic to acquatic{sic} life with long lasting effects.
      Safety Precautions
      • P273 – Avoid release to the environment
      • P280 – Wear protective gloves/ protective clothing
      • P501 – Dispose of contents/ container to an approved waste disposal plant.

      The solar panel manufacturer tells us how safe their solar panels are.
      Deeper in their website, they instruct us not to break the solar panels. Breaking the panels exposes and releases cadmium telluride.

      I doubt China handles their disposal of broken solar panels any better than they handle our excess recyclables.

  5. The only agreement China will sign up to , is one that requires them to do nothing and judge themselves if they have done that.

    Worth remembering that when you are told how China has ‘signed on’ to any environmental process .

  6. Having just completed a visit to five areas of China I can attest to the big improvement in air quality accomplished over just the past five years.

    You are all aware of the pathetic photos of steam from cooling towers backlit by the rising or setting sun used by the likes of Greenpeace to pretend that water vapour is “pollution”. When that level of perfidy is “the standard comment” about a target nation or technology, whinges from “advocacy groups” don’t mean much. Nearly no sentence from Greenpeace is factual in its entirety. What then are we to make of their comments about China? What are their plans for “direct action” in China? Anything?

    The major push to create cleaner air in Hebei (which gets a mention above) has been to change home heating fuel from raw coal to semi-coked briquettes which, it is widely believed, removes “the smoke”.

    As raw coal-burning heating stoves have been shown in numerous lab tests to be consistently cleaner in emissions than semi-coked coal or briquettes, this seems more a matter of combustion technology than “altering the fuel”.

    There is a parallel effort (including in Hebei) to convert biomass wastes such as corn stover to pellets. Like India, China has huge quantities of agriculture byproducts some of which could be used for heating. Unfortunately there are two persistent issues which are: cost (due to the hardware durability) and NOx emissions which rise dramatically without changes to the combustor (same as with raw coal).

    These technical advances are hobbled by two serious misconceptions: a strong belief that the PM emissions are “inherent in the fuel” (not a product of incomplete combustion) and that NOx cannot be reduced within the fire, rather than having to use a catalyst.

    What people believe impossible is a great impediment to achieving the possible.

    A few weeks ago the central government recinded their three year old ban on using raw coal as a domestic heating fuel. This is an admission that conversion to natural gas and biomass pellets cannot be accomplished in short order. In the meantime people will not be allowed to freeze. Modernisation of the generating fleet continues in parallel with a reduction of their dependence on imported coal. I think that explains the recent mine expansion plans.

    • … dependence on imported coal.

      China wants to be self sufficient. link

      We must not become dependent on China for anything. China is more than willing to use trade as a bludgeon. It has, in the past, cut off rare earth supplies to Japan. link It has bullied Australia. link It is currently tightening the screws on Canada. link

      We don’t want China in a position where it can cause great harm to other nations while experiencing no consequences itself.

      • not to mention how they are effectively colonising Africa – all the mistakes and misjudgements the west made there in the past – they are repeating now

      • And in Australia, politicians have granted a 99 year lease of the port of Darwin to the Chinese. An airbase also has been leased or sold to them but I don’t recall where.

    • Crispin,

      Your comments are always some of the most interesting, well-informed, and thoughtful of any here. Thanks,

      rip

      • Ripshin

        Garsh…thanks. I am one of the lucky few who get to see the world up close. I know how fortunate I am, believe me.

        It is amazing how willing people’s of the world are in trying to get along, and how fruitless the strifes of their leaders.

        But, it is also amazing how many people think they can skim something off the top and the world will never notice – that it is not possible to steal whole countries into bankruptcy. What I see coming (very shortly) is the utter collapse of the economic system as the house of cards cannot be sustained. Sorry, but the evidence is everywhere. The great scams of “carbon”, ” air quality” and the coming “water crisis” (still TBA) will come undone. It will be interesting to see what (and who) rises to bring sanity and calm. Food will be important, CO2 will not.

        And the cold cometh. Cold kills.

  7. The article has two false assumptions.
    First, that Greenpeace numbers are credible.
    Second, that China abides by the Paris agreement.
    Geoff S

    • China does abide by the Paris Agreement. They agreed to continue increasing emissions while making zero attempts to cut for 15 years.,

        • Yes they did. Twice. Once in a separate agreement with Obama and again as part of the Paris Accord.

          The Paris Accord signatories were all required to make a commitment about their emissions. There is no standard that all nations would be required to meet, like a 25% reduction, each nation set their own goals.

          Stupid nations like Canada, USA and the European countries committed to significant reductions that none of them will achieve.

          China committed to do nothing to reduce emissions and keep increasing emissions for 15 years which, coincidentally, is when their emissions were already expected to level off.

          India committed to becoming more efficient. Mind you, they’re already more efficient that the goals they set out in the agreement, so in essence, they pledged to do nothing.

          Pakistan committed to cutting emissions….some day. Which is to say, they also pledged to do nothing.

          Get the picture?

    • Geoff S

      Agree China is a biding by their commitment, as announced, with the reminder that they said Heywood review their plan in 2030.

      Greenpeace is quite credible on certain matters. When they threaten to expose and boycott and march against a company unless they pay monies to undo what Greenpeace has declared to be sinful, they definitely do it – that is why article mentions “shakedown”. On other matters they appear to be less straightforward. Editing Patrick Moore out of old photos is perhaps an indicator of a willingness to engage in fake news.

    • Now do a map quantifying countries’ per capita contributions to technological progress that has made life so much easier, better and longer for the world’s inhabitants.

    • First of all Loydo, if my global geography is right, the two (not one) red countries on your map in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia and Oman, not Kuwait. Perhaps you need to go back to school and relearn your global geography.

      Second, I am getting really sick and tired of holier-than-thou individuals like yourself telling the rest of American society that they have to shed the demand for fossil fuels from their lives when you probably have not done so yourself. How do I know that you didn’t? Because you posted your comment above at this website. It’s called hypocrisy Loydo.

      Third, whether you believe it or not, the jury is still out in science on whether human CO2 emissions are playing any meaningful role in the climate that we need to worry about. The UAH satellite record as of last month still shows only +0.13 C warming per decade since its inception, and the Earth has cooled about half a degree Celsius since the El Nino in 2016.

      The worst thing about being in a cult Loydo is not knowing you are in one.

    • YES! We lead the world!
      Whats up with Oman, and Kazakhstan?

      You do know that the US is the worlds leading exporter of food, right?
      Food production takes a lot of energy. You know that, right?
      Your sort never wants to talk about that. Why?

    • But the true picture is in emissions by country and Not hiding behind Per Capita figures, especially when almost 1/2 of your populace is energy impoverished…
      https://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/
      Hiding behind “Per Capita” figures only masks the Fact that China is by far (almost 2:1) the largest emitter globally, almost doubling U.S. emission levels. China has more emissions per annum than U.S., Russia, Japan, and Germany combined and still growing with NO Paris Restrictions. India has almost double the combined emissions of Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada combined and, with a similar Paris agreement, is set to outpace them within a couple years

      • Yeah but he is a true lefty and the whole per capita thing is some crazy idea the have of fairness. Could you imagine a lefty roll up to a sinking titanic, you have to save people in there race, gender and social status proportions. So they fish some rich white guy out they look at there numbers and throw him back because they have to many of that demographic as they are light on latino and women of colour. That is how these idiots really think, it doesn’t matter if it’s an emergency or not you have to be fair 🙂

    • Correction: United Arab Emirates also appear to be red in Loydo’s map. Difficult to say if Kuwait is red, it might be.

  8. Is there any evidence the Chinese political establishment actually accept CAGW and the necessity for CO2 emission reductions?

    Their behavior, and everything one reads about the studies their academics are producing, suggests not.

    After all, if they did accept it, they would be most preoccupied with being the biggest contributor to a pending disaster which will affect them as much as or more than anyone else.

  9. China’s “climate pledges” aren’t worth the cyberspace they exist in, let alone the paper they are printed on.

    • China is one of the few countries that will certainly meet it’s Paris commitments to the climate, their pledges are golden. That’s because their pledges are to keep increasing emissions with no attempt to reduce them. They signed on with that pledge to the Paris Accord, and the idiotic greenies cheered, declaring with China finally on board, what excuse do the rest of us have?

  10. remebering they havent banned importing steel scrap. and it takes a lot of energy to make planes and ships and subs n ammo.
    for Aussies Pig Iron Bob should be a reminder

    • They haven’t really agreed to anything other than some vague connection between GDP and emissions. Try to audit their GDP, that is a number only they can give and they can make it anything they like as they showed this week they just up and devalued their currency (for the trade war). All they really care about is bringing the air pollution down in several major cities.

      I have said it all along world emissions will continue to rise well up to 2030 thanks to China and India and any country that wastes time and effort to do emission control is a fool. By the end of the process China and India emissions per person will be exactly the same as the worst of developed nations. China has already surpassed Germany and UK emissions per capita and rising steadily. Emission control was never going to work and it is only green fools who ever thought it could.

  11. It is a really bad situation when the PRC seems to care more about the welfare of it’s subjects than the EU. Whatever Xi really is politically, he and his government acts as if it cares more about the lower classes than the bureaucrats in Brussels, and is more responsive.
    The US missed that sort of green insanity in 2016, but the green blob is still wants pensioners to freeze in the dark.

  12. “its fight against smog and greenhouse gas emissions”

    It is absolutely legitimate to fight against smog, especially under Chinese conditions, where air quality is awful. However, it can be done with no decrease in coal use if proper filters are installed at power plants. Its cost is not even prohibitive.

    Coal fired household stoves can still be a problem. The solution is phase them out and replace them with natural gas.

    On the other hand, “fight against greenhouse gas emissions” does not make sense.

    So. Lumping together the two very different issues is indicative of an agenda.

  13. China plays the Long Game, no question about that.
    Two and three years ago, China and India both placing huge bets on nuclear in general and Thorium on particular was all the talk. People were calculating, quite rightly, that any country which rapidly commercializes a new cheap nuclear power source will secure a huge economic advantage over its competitors. Talk about all this was mainstream and widespread. Rightly so, a big nuclear advance has the possibility of becoming a major game changer, and China knows it. The West knows it too.

    Now, Radio Silence on all channels. What happened?
    Has China calculated that advertising everything they are up to may not be wise? How about that?
    Meanwhile, they mine coal to meet their needs in the interim. No surprises there. Their strategic “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) proceeds apace. Their Navy modernization and build-out moves at an astonishing pace. On a very related matter, China continues tightening it’s grip on the South China Sea, without significant push-back from other powers.

    And all anybody wants to talk about is how much coal they are going to use.

  14. The situation in China is complicated and prone to change at frequent intervals … quoting articles from earlier than this year is entirely pointless

    Here’s an article examining what’s going on from earlier this year which still has a little relevance…
    https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2019/03/is-china-returning-to-coal-power/

    I frankly wouldn’t want to say if China is or isn’t increasing coal… if it is, it doesn’t seem to be the all out push it once was and certainly with (for example) 2 new nuclear reactors coming online and a continuing huge amount of solar and wind power, we could at least be hopeful.

  15. This move is a necessity for China. Their recent devaluation strategy to beat the Trump tariffs was going to kill them on their energy imports. Coal and oil imports are going to be much more expensive, and the resultant economic pain is going to be felt across the breadth of the Chinese economy. If they had just ignored Trump, the American consumer and manufacturers dependent on Chinese imports would have been the only ones feeling the pain, now the Chinese have given the tariffs real teeth on their own economy as this will make everything more expensive to make. Additional in-country energy sources will offset this somewhat, but China will still be importing a large amount of dollar denoted oil.

  16. It could just be economics.

    1. China’s net trade surplus (“current account”) has shrunk to near zero and there is huge pressure on its vaunted $3 trillion foreign reserves as Chinese try to circumvent capital controls and get their yuan out of the country in dollars, yen, euros, etc. China is no doubt worried that it may be forced to draw down its reserves so much that its currency is vulnerable.

    2. This is exacerbated by its 11% currency devaluation. That decreases by 11% the amount of foreign currency its exports earn, so that it has to either slash imports or draw down reserves to finance imports. And those imports, in local currency (yuan) are 11% more expensive too.

    3. So China, by expanding coal production, can reduce imports of coal, saving precious foreign currency, and in doing so creating Chinese jobs, and raising Chinese GDP, both of which its communist regime needs to do in order to placate the masses. Also, due to currency depreciation raising the yuan price of imported coal by 11%, coal extraction that previously was of doubtful profitability has now become more profitable (or at least less unprofitable.)

    4. Greenhouse gas reduction has never been a priority. We have seen in WUWT and elsewhere several journal articles from Chinese university scientists concluding the MWP was pronounced in China and warmer than tbe present, and that there has been little 20th century warming in China. To the extent communists care tbe environment, which is little, their science paints AGW as a hoax.

  17. Labor and environmental arbitrage are at the heart of so-called “free trade” and the corporate environmental/Green movement.

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