China on Monday defended its decision to join India’s push at the United Nations Climate Change Conference for gradually limiting the use of coal instead of phasing it out completely.
A day before the summit concluded, India, backed by China, had proposed to change the text of the Glasgow Climate Pact from “phase out” use of coal to “phase down”. The deal was signed by 200 countries, some of which opposed the change in language of the deal.
On Sunday, COP26 summit president Alok Sharma said that India and China will need to explain themselves for watering down the Glasgow Climate Pact.
In a response to Sharma’s statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said that differences in development and resources should be “respected.”
“Before calling on all countries to end their use of coal, the energy needs and shortfalls of these countries must be considered,” he said, at a press conference in Beijing. “We encourage developed countries to take the lead in stopping the use of coal. What we need is not just slogans but real action.”
Meanwhile, Pan Jiahua, director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that phasing out the use of coal would be impossible for India as 75% of the country’s electricity is generated from it, The Global Times reported.
He added that China’s proportion of coal in its total energy consumption mix is twice the world average. He said that Beijing will face more complications in its efforts to discontinue the use of coal.
“Developing countries such as China and India are not on the same starting line as Western countries, thus it is unfair to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to ask us to stop using coal altogether,” Pan said.
Meanwhile, data from the China’s National Bureau of Statistics accessed by The Washington Post showed that the country had produced 375 million tonnes of coal in October – its highest in six years.
China has increased the import of coals and approved new mines since September, The Washington Post reported citing the National Development and Reform Commission. This has increased China’s coal production capacity by 220 million tonnes.