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China’s New Coal Push As Relations With West Sour


China’s embrace of coal could tighten even further if tensions with the U.S. escalate, with policymakers prioritising energy security over climate change.

China will likely ease the pressure on local governments to shut older, inefficient coal mines as it seeks to meet rising demand of the most-polluting fuel to spur its economic recovery.

Government officials are in the midst of preparing the country’s all-important five-year-plan, the guiding document for policy and industrial development from 2021 to 2025. Unlike the previous edition, when China made a major push to cut overcapacity to support prices and help miners struggling with mounting debt, the government isn’t likely to set any targets for mine closures, analysts forecast.

But the lack of a hard target now would underscore the continuing dependence on coal in China, which mines and burns half the world’s supply. More flexibility for smaller mines would help expand production capacity to meet rising demand as the world’s second-biggest economy continues to dig itself out from the depths of the pandemic. […]

China’s embrace of coal could tighten even further if tensions with the U.S. escalate, forcing policymakers to prioritize energy security over climate change, said analyst Michelle Leung with Bloomberg Intelligence. China could be targeting 1,300 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in its 14th Five-Year Plan for power, from 1,050 today, she said.

About 46 gigawatts worth of new plants were under construction as of May, already outpacing last year’s total addition, according to a study published by Greenpeace last week. Another 48 gigawatts were under various stages of development as the country lifted curbs on new builds in most regions, it estimated.

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