Plagued by air pollution, China is following global trends and moving away from coal and towards a renewable energy future, according to a Greenpeace study launched in Berlin today as IPCC negotiators continue to thrash out the details of their climate change mitigation report.
Coal has been the main source of global CO2 emissions with China responsible for producing half of them in recent years.
But pollution and growing concerns about water availability have forced a fundamental turnaround in China’s coal policy, says Greenpeace.
As well as slashing emissions and supporting the global battle to keep temperature rise below 2°C, this move signals to coal-exporting economies like Australia that the game is up for dirty energy.
A report from a leading think-tank, also launched today, confirms that renewables are replacing coal in the EU’s energy mix and calls for stronger government measures to speed up this transition.
Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia’s Climate Expert said:
Until recently, China’s rapidly growing coal use was driving climate change towards runaway disaster. But the country’s extreme air pollution may have broken this trend. In the next few years, a number of Chinese provinces will turn their rapid growth in coal use into absolute reductions.
Protesting outside the IPCC negotiations this morning, WWF demanded an end to investments in all fossil fuel energy sources.
Meeting outside of the conference centre, campaigners hosted a Fossil Fuel Casino to highlight the risks associated with the continued investment in dirty energy sources in the wake of the most recent warning from the world’s scientists.
Dr Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy, WWF said:
The world’s scientists are telling us that climate change is a massive risk that the world isn’t doing enough to tackle. We must act, and acting means changing the world’s energy sector from dirty to clean and renewable. We can’t continue to gamble with the future of the world we depend on.
As carbon dioxide levels hit record highs, the coal industry made a last ditch effort to greenwash itself as the only hope for poverty alleviation in the developing world, pushing WWF to launch a legal challenge in Belgium.
But clever PR cannot hide the fact that renewables are better for the developed and the developing world.
Greenpeace is calling on Beijing to spread this message and be a climate action leader in the run-up to a new global deal in Paris in 2015.