President Xi Jinping told the UN on Tuesday that China will sell nations around the world its cheap wind and solar technology produced with cheap slave labour and cheap coal power, ending support for building coal-fired power plants abroad.
China’s cheap energy strategy will kill three birds with one stone:
1. By building up its coal-powered economy, it can continue to produce and export renewables much cheaper than most OECD nations. China will thus cement its role as the world’s foremost producer and exporter of renewable energy.
2. By ending support for building coal-fired power plants abroad it reduces the pressure on coal demand, improving China’s domestic coal market which is currently struggling with high coal prices.
3. By announcing this move, China is playing the green card in the run-up to COP26 in order to reduce Western pressure and kick the ball back into Joe Biden’s court.
Xi tells UN China will stop funding coal projects overseas
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Xi made the promise as he vowed to accelerate efforts to help the world battle the climate crisis.
“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low carbon energy and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said in a pre-recorded address.
“We should foster new growth drivers in the post-Covid era and jointly achieve leapfrog development, staying committed to harmony between man and nature,” Xi said.
China has gone on an infrastructure-building blitz around the world as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, and until now has been open to coal projects.
In a letter earlier this year, a coalition of non-governmental groups said that the state-run Bank of China was the largest single financier of coal projects, pumping $35 billion since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015.
China, however, has kept investing in coal at home, preserving a form of industry that is also politically sensitive in the United States.
China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation last year — more than three times what was brought on line globally.