China to stop building new coal-fired power plants abroad

Posted on 22 September 2021

(22 September 2021) - Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday told the UN General Assembly that the country will not build new coal-fired power plants abroad. 


The announcement is significant as China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and also an important financing, investment and construction party of overseas coal-fired power plants. Withdrawing overseas coal power investment is an important measure to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. 


The announcement comes at a crucial time in the political build up to pivotal meetings in the coming weeks. First, the G20 Leaders Summit in Rome on 30 - 31 October where the push to end fossil fuel subsidies and to provide much needed climate finance will be high among expectations for decisive action. Then, the global climate COP26 conference in Glasgow, starting on 31 October, will see a final push to get leaders to submit ambitious climate plans that will shape the path the world will take to address the climate crisis.

Commenting on the news, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy, said: “This marks a clear turning point for the global use of coal in a region where coal has been intensively used. It is also relevant as it comes in a time when we desperately need game-changing commitments. This powerful statement provides a significant signal to coal finance demand countries as well as remaining financiers that the time of coal has long passed. We hope to see similar global announcements both on coal, and oil and gas, the next frontier we immediately need to tackle." 


Ms. Lunyan LU, CEO of WWF-China said: “The announcement that China will stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad reflects a major step forward towards the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. It will fundamentally boost the sustainable development progress towards a global green and low carbon community shared by all. The momentum will further build up if finance can be redirected towards scaling up renewable energy. In cooperation with other countries and development partners, China can lead and accelerate the global clean and sustainable energy transition powered by solar and wind.” 


Dean Cooper, WWF global energy transformation lead, said: “Coal-fired electricity generation accounts for 30% of global CO2 emissions. The majority of that generation is currently found in Asia. Redirecting the flows of overseas public finance now to renewables will be a vital part of efforts to completely phase out coal as soon as possible. Shifting towards investment in a transition to renewable energy will set an example for other developing and emerging economies facing coal expansion risks in Asia as well as in Africa.”


Cooper said it was encouraging to hear that there will also be increased support from China for low-carbon energy development to address the energy supply gap that will otherwise be created by no further coal use. 


“This is very well aligned with our own WWF REpowering Asia initiative, aiming to end coal use and support alternative clean energy options that allow a just transition. We must ensure that this energy transition will avoid any further damage to nature and so bring long-term benefits for humankind.”


For further information contact: 

Mandy Jean Woods

Shixin Li



Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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