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World must close nearly 3,000 coal plants to stay on climate track: Study

According to research by climate think tank TransitionZero, about 3,000 coal-fired power plants will have to be shut down before 2030 if the world has a chance to keep temperatures within 1.5 Celsius.

In a report published a few days before the UN COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, TransitionZero said there are currently more than 2,000 GW of coal-fired electricity operating around the world, and this needs to be reduced by about half. There is a need to close almost one unit per day from now to the end of the decade.

The need to shut down nearly 1,000 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity would put China – the world’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gas and owner of nearly half of the world’s coal-fired plants – accelerating its shift toward clean electricity. to do.

“The logical conclusion is that half the effort will need to come from China,” said Matt Gray, TransitionZero analyst and report author.

China has reduced the share of coal in its total energy mix from 72.4% in 2005 to 56.8% last year, but the amount of absolute consumption continues to rise. President Xi Jinping vowed earlier this year that China would start cutting coal use, but only after 2025. Its coal strategy has also come under additional scrutiny in recent weeks as regulators try to find the additional quantities needed to address the energy crunch. To close factories and jeopardize heating and power supplies in winter.

Gray said coal consumption will increase in the short term, but the crisis is forcing China to accelerate reforms that will ultimately help the country reduce its fossil fuel dependence.

He said a recent policy aimed at forcing operators of coal-fired power generators to sell electricity through the wholesale market would expose them to competition from renewable sources and further underline the lack of competition.

“I think it’s fair to say that keeping the lights on and keeping the buildings warm will be a special priority for the Chinese government coming winter,” he said. “But our hope is to see this crisis as a wake-up call to rely on coal-fired electricity.”

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