- Total pre-construction capacity outside China is now less than 100 gigawatts for the first time since data collection began. The scale of planned new coal power in the world outside China fell by 9% in the second half of 2022 alone.
- There are no new coal plants proposed in North America or the EU. No new coal plants have started construction across the OECD and EU since 2019.
- By contrast, China embarked on a renewed coal power boom in the second half of 2022.
- China’s hasty reaction to the energy crisis has global climate consequences as well as domestic economic risks. China can recommit to the energy transition and its climate leadership responsibilities by changing course and putting a lid on new coal ahead of its next Five Year Plan, in 2026.
- Read E3G’s parallel analyses on the latest trends in new coal power.
Ending the construction of new coal power is a critical milestone towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. The IPCC and the IEA are clear that no new unabated coal power plants can be built if the world is to limit warming to 1.5°C.
Rest of the world closer than ever to no new coal
The scale of proposed new coal power capacity outside of China is down by 84% since the 2015 Paris Agreement, with reductions of 90% in OECD / EU and 83% in non-OECD countries.
Aside from China, all world regions saw a decline or plateau in the scale of new coal under consideration in the second half of 2022. Only seven coal projects were proposed in the entire world outside China: six reactivated projects in India and one new project in Indonesia. This is the smallest number of new projects proposed in any half-year period since 2015.
As of January 2023, 98 countries had either explicitly committed to no new coal or had considered coal in the past decade but no longer have any active planned projects.
Read more in the E3G briefing, Driving forward: world outside China closes in on no new coal
Global progress threatened by renewed coal power boom in China
The second half of 2022 saw the largest ever increase in new coal plant permitting in China, accompanied by significant spikes in new project proposals and construction starts. As a result, China now accounts for 72% of global pre-construction capacity, up from 66% in July 2022.
China’s hasty prioritisation of new coal is at odds with the significant global trend away from new coal. It would be a costly detour. The significant scale of China’s coal expansion plans directly threatens the 1.5°c temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. China itself will be loading its economy with stranded assets, undermining its global leadership on renewables deployment, and challenging the credibility of its climate commitments.
Many proposed new coal plants in China are yet to start construction. The question is whether the central government can swiftly rein in provinces and power companies before new constructions proceed, putting a lid on new coal ahead of China’s next Five Year Plan in 2026. This is the best way for China to recommit to a sustainable energy transition, reduce the economic risks of locked-in coal power for decades, and deliver on its climate leadership responsibilities.
Read more in the E3G briefing, Diverging pathways: China’s new coal boom takes it on a detour
Leo Roberts, Programme Lead at E3G said:
“Almost every country and region in the world has stopped planning new coal power stations and many have now cancelled all remaining projects. This is a huge step towards keeping global heating below 1.5°c. Unfortunately, a renewed coal boom in China is sending it off on a diverging pathway from the rest of the world, at potentially massive cost to the climate, and to China itself.”
Belinda Schäpe, Policy Advisor at E3G said:
“Ensuring China’s energy security through more coal capacity is an illusion. As the world turns its back on coal, China has little to gain from clinging to the dirtiest of fossil fuels. As a responsible power, China can showcase its commitments to tackling climate change and the green transition – leading by example.”
Byford Tsang, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G said:
“The coal resurgence across the country is a direct challenge to President Xi’s promise to rein in coal. Ending the coal plant building spree should be a priority for China’s new cabinet. Doing so will save China from a costly detour on its energy transition and position China as a front-runner on climate.”
Chris Littlecott, Associate Director at E3G said:
“For the first time, there are no new coal power plants proposed in either North America or the EU. Across the whole of the OECD, no new coal plants have started construction since 2019. Multiple governments and companies have considered their options and decided not to build new coal, pursuing clean energy alternatives instead. The end of new coal is now rapidly reachable everywhere, yet China is taking itself in the opposite direction.”
Available for comment
Leo Roberts (EN), Programme Lead for Research and Analysis (coal), Fossil Fuel Transitions, E3G
m: +44 (0)7908 664334 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Littlecott (EN, SP), Associate Director, Fossil Fuel Transitions, E3G
m: +44 (0)7920 461812 email@example.com
Byford Tsang (EN, CN), Senior Policy Advisor (China), Climate Diplomacy, E3G
m: +44 7931 317 327 firstname.lastname@example.org
Belinda Schäpe (EN, DE), Policy Advisor (China), Climate Diplomacy, E3G
m: +44 (0)7864 802176 email@example.com
Oyku Senlen (EN, TU), Senior Researcher (coal), Fossil Fuel Transitions, E3G
m: +44 (0)7597 002579 firstname.lastname@example.org
Camilla Fenning (EN), Programme Lead for Diplomacy, Fossil Fuel Transitions, E3G
m: +44 (0)7961047835 email@example.com
Notes to Editors
- E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G
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