A year after President Xi Jinping promised China would stop building coal power plants overseas, the country has completed 14 such facilities beyond its borders and will finish another 27 soon, according to a new report. Most of the projects that were in progress when Xi made the announcement are in limbo, but the recently or soon-to-be completed plants will emit about 140 million tons of CO2 a year in total, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and People of Asia for Climate Solutions said in the report. That’s more than the national emissions of the Philippines.
Xi committed to stop building coal power plants in other countries and support green energy in a video speech to the United Nations General Assembly last year. He didn’t specify what would happen to projects already underway. Since then, China has pushed to boost coal production and sped up the permitting process for domestic power plants, part of a campaign to end a series of economy-crippling power crunches.
Since the announcement, 26 projects have been officially canceled, the researchers said. Another 33 could be canceled because they don’t have permits or secure financing. Sixteen more have to be built to satisfy contractual agreements, but because construction hasn’t started, the report’s authors suggest they could be converted to clean energy.
Such cancellations and conversions would result in the avoidance of as much as 341 million tons of carbon a year, more than the UK’s annual emissions, the researchers said.