New information from the environmental lobby group Greenpeace indicates China’s coal consumption fell by 2.9 per cent in 2014, according to official Chinese energy data just released.
The report by the Greenpeace Energydesk blog says an initial analysis suggests that equates to a 0.7 per cent drop in overall emissions.
China’s emissions from oil, gas and coal burning have not fallen since the Asian economic crisis more than 15 years ago.
Greenpeace says the drop is the biggest recorded fall in 30 years, and the first time on record that emission fell while total energy consumption grew.
Coal consumption growth in China has been slowing down since 2012 suggesting that China’s coal use is no longer rising in line with economic output, so-called “de-coupling”.
Based on China Statistical Yearbook 2014, coal consumption growth slowed from an average of 6.1 per cent per year between 2007-2011, to 2.6 per cent on average between 2012-2013, while GDP growth averaged 10.5 per cent and 7.7 per cent per year, respectively.
China’s coal consumption growth was responsible for more than half of global CO2 emission growth in the past 10 years.
Greenpeace says the fall in China’s coal consumption comes as China has set new global records for wind and solar installations and seen an increase in both economy-wide and power plant efficiency.
Ambitious policies to control coal use, spurred by the air pollution crisis, along with policies to diversify the economy away from energy-intensive industries, are strongly constraining coal consumption.
The country also appears to be moving away from plans to reduce pollution in urban areas by gasifying coal in more remote locations due to concerns over economic viability.
Though China’s coal use is unlikely to continue falling year on year an analysis by Greenpeace suggests that full implementation of China’s existing energy targets, including targets for renewable energy and controlling total energy consumption, could see coal use peak by 2020.
China recently required four provinces in the key economic regions to set absolute coal consumption reduction targets, in addition to four others that already have ambitious targets, the provinces consume more than 600 million tonnes of coal a year, almost as much as India.
Meanwhile, according to an internal “clean plan” jointly authored by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Finance, China aims to reduce coal use by over 80 million tonnes by 2017,.
According to a Beijing News report, the plan aims to encourage the more efficient use of coal over the period from 2015 to 2020.
The report sets a goal of reducing coal use by more than 80 million tonnes by 2017 and also includes various other emissions targets.
The plan also seeks the involvement of local-level authorities and is said to include financial resources to help companies to reduce air pollution, improve technology and deal with out-dated equipment and overcapacity.