Shortly after announcing that they will be investing over $360 billion in renewable energy resources (namely hydro, nuclear, solar and wind) in the next five years, China has made another decisive move — they are suspending more than 100 coal power plant projects worth around $62 billion (430 billion Yuan), some of which are already under construction.
The announcement was made by China’s National Energy Administration. As a result, our world has just been saved from an additional 120 GW (gigawatts) worth of coal power — the expected capacity of the cancelled plants had they been built and completed — an amount that would have been excessive anyway.
According to China’s 5-year plan, their target for coal-powered capacity is 1,100 GW by 2020. But by completing all their power plant projects, they would have hit a 1,250 GW capacity. And that obviously is way over capacity. So halting the projects is quite sensible.
Even if they will be facing economic losses from the project cancellations, it will be simpler to handle than dealing with a capacity surplus from power that’s been damaging the environment. Besides, they can probably figure out a way to balance the economic implications — the loss of jobs from the suspended projects can be replaced by the new jobs that will be generated from the new renewable power generation projects that China will be investing in.
As Reuters reported, Greenpeace was quoted as saying: “Stopping under-construction projects seems wasteful and costly, but spending money and resources to finish these completely unneeded plants would be even more wasteful.”
Prior to these announcements, China took part in ratifying the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It was a significant move because China is considered to be the biggest source of greenhouse gases (U.S. is the second), accounting for 20.09% of the world’s emissions. In other words, China is one of those largely responsible for accelerating the rate of global warming and the worsening effects of climate change.
By signing the agreement, the mainland is making a promise to lessen the country’s carbon emissions so they can help limit the rising temperatures. From being the world’s worst polluter and suffering from a persistent problem with hazardous smog, China seems dead serious on turning over a new leaf as we are now seeing a nation acknowledging the threat of climate change, and doing something concrete to help become part of the solution.
As Greenpeace researcher Lauri Myllyvirta told Michael Forsythe of The New York Times, “The key thing is that yes, China has a long way to go, but in the past few years China has come a very long way.”
We’re pretty sure Mother Earth is smiling at this news.