China's Pursuit of Coal Plants Contradicts Climate Goals, EU Official States

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The Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, expressed concern on Monday over what he sees as a contradiction between China's ambitious climate goals and its ongoing construction of coal-fired power plants. Speaking at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Timmermans acknowledged China's willingness to move in the right direction but highlighted the continued opening of coal plants as problematic.

China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), plays a crucial role in global efforts to limit temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius. However, data shows that China still heavily relies on coal, which accounted for nearly 60 percent of its electricity generation last year.

Earlier this year, Greenpeace criticized China for approving a significant increase in coal power, accusing the country of prioritizing energy supply over its commitment to reducing fossil fuel emissions. Concerns are mounting that this surge in coal plant approvals may undermine China's emission peak target of between 2026 and 2030, as well as its carbon neutrality goal for 2060.

Timmermans' remarks come amid extreme weather events in China, including record-setting heatwaves and widespread flooding, highlighting the potential consequences of rising global temperatures. He emphasized the adverse impacts of climate change and the urgent need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, warning of increasingly severe weather events.

The China Meteorological Administration reported that 2023 has witnessed a record number of high-temperature days over a six-month period. Last month, Beijing experienced its hottest June day ever recorded, with northern China experiencing scorching temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius. Additionally, heavy and persistent rainfall in central and southern China has caused severe flooding, forcing thousands to evacuate.

The United Nations has raised alarm, predicting that the period from 2023 to 2027 will likely be the warmest five-year span on record due to greenhouse gas emissions and the influence of the El Niño climate phenomenon. Amidst these challenges, China has consistently called on developed nations to fulfill their climate finance commitments.

Despite being the world's second-largest economy, China rejects the notion that it should shed its developing country status. The country has insisted on its right to continued support from developed nations in tackling climate change.

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