UPDATE: China’s National Bureau of Statistics (analyzed by Greenpeace) just confirmed that the country’s CO2 emissions fell by 1-2% in 2015 while 2-4% less coal was used and 32.5 gigawatts of wind and 18.3 gigawatts of solar were used in 2015.
China’s imports of coal fell to the lowest in four years in 2015, dropping 30% as a combination of air pollution laws and economic slow downs have decreased demand. Overall coal consumption was down more than 5% last year. Beijing has already announced that it will end coal usage in the capital city and its surrounding areas by 2020, using natural gas instead to meet electricity needs.
Looking ahead, China’s peak promises, made in its INDC filed in June 2015, are gaining more traction.
The decline in CO2 emissions from coal burning in China may accelerate after the head of China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced this week that the government would restrain the construction of new coal-fired power plants. This policy shift includes withdrawing some approvals already given in regions with the biggest capacity surpluses. In addition, China will close more than 1000 coal mines this year, which lowers total production capacity by 60 million tons. China has a total of 10,760 mines, and 5,600 of them will eventually be shuttered under a policy to close those with an annual output lower than 90,000 tons, the China National Coal Association has estimated. The country produced 3.7 million tons of coal last year and has an estimated capacity of 2 billion tons per year. The NEA announcement on Monday confirmed that these closures were part of a plan to shut down as much as 500 million tons of surplus production capacity within the next three to five years.
Interesting, this same NEA statement also spoke of renewable energy, urging parties to solve the alleged problem of limiting renewable energy in regional grids, where local governments tend to favor major coal companies over renewable generators.