Climate campaigners held a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on Thursday, September 22, to mark the first anniversary of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s policy announcement that China would no longer build new coal-fired power projects abroad.
The activists called on China to “fully act on this pledge and showcase China’s renewable energy leadership by converting those planned but yet to be constructed, coal power projects to renewable energy.”
China has been under heavy diplomatic pressure in recent years to end its overseas coal financing overseas. At the 2021 United Nations General Assembly, Xi made the policy announcement on coal projects, adding a pledge to deal with climate change.
Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, said more than 120 organizations and movements in Asia have signed on an open letter to Xi to remind him of the urgency of his climate pledge and underscore how China could take on a much stronger leadership and role in the rapid, equitable and just energy transition in the Global South.
“We strongly urge China to end all forms of support and involvement of its institutions in all coal projects overseas, shift its public and commercial overseas energy financing to renewable energy for Southern countries, and stop building its domestic coal energy system as well,” said Nacpil in a statement.
“We reiterate the urgency of these actions to combat climate change and address its impacts that are devastating many countries now and endangering the future of life on the planet,” she added.
The open letter called on China to scale up sustainable, fair and non-debt creating financing for the rapid development of renewable energy systems in Southern countries, noting that China has initially committed US$4 billion through its Global Development Initiative, which can be directed to and subsequently utilized in responding to the immediate needs and requirements in financing 100 percent renewable energy for people and communities in developing countries.
China is a major global producer of RE technologies. In 2018 alone, it has reportedly produced about 70 percent of the total global exports for solar and wind energy projects.
“It is in a position to provide critical leadership in the swift development of renewable energy for people and communities,” read the activists’ open letter.
The open letter also urged China to expand its no new overseas coal policy to include all coal projects, such as coal mines, captive coal power plants, and coal plants under construction and in the pipeline, as well as all types of China’s involvement in overseas coal projects, such as lending and finance, investments, insurance underwriting by its policy banks, commercial banks and state-owned enterprises.
The activists also called on China to accompany its climate pledge with similar measures toward its domestic coal energy system, expressing concern with pronouncements from the National Development and Reform Commission earlier this year that China will boost the production of more modern coal mines and enhance coal reserve capacity.
The letter said this will add to the government approval of hundreds of new coal mining projects and output expansions from the second half of 2021.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the urgency of reaching zero GHG emissions globally by 2050 to keep global average temperature rise below 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic climate change.