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May 23, 2009 / Mridul

China Building Coal Stockpiles of 100 Million Tonnes, Calls For Greater Emission Cuts From Developed Nations

China is building four to six coal reserves each with capacity exceeding 20 million tonnes in order to address the problem of shortage of the fuel. Meanwhile, Chinese officials also called upon the leaders of developed nations to set ambitious carbon emission reduction goals.

China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer but lately the demand has outpaced supply, a trend likely to continue into the next year. To address this gap in demand-supply China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has planned to build coal reserves in the the eastern province of Shandong which will be ready within three to five years. According to the officials of the NDRC, the stockpiles are meant for use with the province only and China has substantial coal supply on the national level.

Coal remains China’s primary source of energy and it is also exported to many neighboring countries as well. Easy and plentiful availability of coal is one of the major reasons behind China’s strong resistance to any kind of emission reduction targets. Instead, officials from the NDRC itself called upon the developed nations to commit to more ambitious emission targets closer to 25 to 40 percent by the year 2020 from 1990 levels.

Reports about shortage of coal reserves have been doing the rounds lately with some of them predicting a peak in coal supplies by 2025. India, too, has been facing shortage of coal.

Weaker Targets Proposed By Developed Nations

China’s renewed calls for action from developed countries comes after many of them presented proposals for the next climate treaty, discussions on which are scheduled to be held at Copenhagen in December later this year. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests a 25 to 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions the proposed plans suggest reduction of only 9 to 16 percent. Developed nations are bound by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their carbon emissions by 5 percent by 2012 from 1990 levels.

India and China have been campaigning to get the developed nations agree to more stricter emissions cuts. Their respective government officials have made numerous calls on various international forums that the developed nations need to do much more if they want the developing countries, now among some of the largest polluters, to be party to any future climate treaty.

Signs of Cooperation From China

China has indicated that it is willing to commit to emission reductions for some of its industrial sectors but would require financial and technological help. China has called for the formation of a new financing mechanism similar but less complicated than the Clean Development Mechanism which would facilitate the import of cleaner technology from developed countries.

Assistance on the technological front also includes a carbon capture and storage partnership with Britain. While Britain hopes to become a major player in the technology, the deal would help China reduce its carbon emissions and it plans to recycle the carbon emissions to produce fertilizers and other usable products.

China has been aggressive in its transition to ‘clean coal’ with reports suggesting that it has surpassed the United States by building ‘clean coal’ based power plants. Since there are serious questions over how clean that coal maybe, it is important that China receives help from the developed countries to mitigate any adverse effects of the ‘clean coal’ technology.

Being the largest carbon emissions producer, China has some serious responsibilities towards playing its part to reduce its carbon footprint. But it is also widely accepted in the developed world that China’s economic growth should not be stemmed in the process. The only solution would be the developed nations providing monetary and technological support to China so that it could move ahead with at least sectoral emission cuts.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Leave a Comment
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  2. justinblows / Aug 4 2009 5:14 am

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