China Researchers: Country Cannot Quit Coal by 2040 Despite Climate Goals

China, the world's top emitter, can't quit coal by 2040 despite climate goals, say researchers. Its coal use will only decrease by 1/3 by 2040, as renewables rise but energy demands persist.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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China Researchers: Country Cannot Quit Coal by 2040 Despite Climate Goals

China Researchers: Country Cannot Quit Coal by 2040 Despite Climate Goals

China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, will not be able to eliminate coal power by 2040 despite global climate goals, according to Chinese researchers. The country remains heavily dependent on coal to meet its energy demands, even as it works to increase renewable sources like solar and wind.

A report by a European consultancy forecasts that China's coal consumption will only decrease by one-third by 2040, a trajectory that falls short of the global climate target to eliminate much of the world's coal use by that time. The report indicates that after a small increase in the next two years, China's coal consumption will decline by one-third by 2040, ending up at around 25% of its peak in 2050.

Despite a substantial growth in renewable energy generation, which is expected to make up 88% of China's power mix by 2050, the country will continue to use coal as a significant part of its energy portfolio. The researchers argue that this continued dependence on coal is necessary to meet China's growing energy demands.

Why this matters: As the world's largest emitter, China's ability to reduce its coal consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is critical for achieving global climate goals. The country's ongoing reliance on coal emphasizes the difficulties in transitioning away from fossil fuels while meeting the energy needs of a large and growing economy.

The report also predicts that China's carbon emissions will peak by 2026, earlier than the official goal of 2030 but slower than some other forecasts. While China is expected to eliminate oil more rapidly than coal, driven by electrification, the country's total energy demand is projected to peak in 2030 and then decrease by 20% by 2050.

Key Takeaways

  • China, world's largest emitter, can't quit coal by 2040 despite climate goals.
  • China's coal consumption to decrease by 1/3 by 2040, still 25% of peak by 2050.
  • Renewable energy to make up 88% of China's power mix by 2050, but coal remains significant.
  • China's carbon emissions to peak by 2026, earlier than official 2030 goal.
  • China's total energy demand to peak in 2030 and decrease by 20% by 2050.