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British Are Not Amused by Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s Latest Statement on China’s Policy on Coal

Oct. 13, 2021 (EIRNS)—The British are getting very nervous that they are facing a strategic defeat at the upcoming COP26 summit. An authoritative statement issued yesterday by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang about China’s policy on coal, has now sent shivers up their spine.

After presiding over a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, Li Keqiang said:

“Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced.... Given the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimize the layout for the coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate in line with development needs, and continue to phase out outdated coal plants in an orderly fashion. Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified.” The statement also said Li had commissioned “in-depth studies and calculations in light of the recent handling of electricity and coal supply strains, to put forward a phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions.”

At the same time, Li underlined the long-term need of meeting the “carbonization” goals China had adopted, emphasizing the dual consumption goals of reducing overall energy consumption and producing with less energy throughput. But the NEC also made clear that it is “impossible to get rid of traditional fossil energy in the short term.” In order to use the rising price of coal to “encourage” energy-saving, the government has allowed energy prices, which it sets, to rise as much as 20% rather than 10% over the target price.

In its coverage of Li’s statement, the London Guardian admitted that “Beijing’s renewed embrace of coal [is] likely to cause alarm in the run-up to COP26.... George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre and the author of Red Flags: Why Xi’s China Is in Jeopardy, said Beijing had been forced to revise its plans in the face of the reality of economic problems and power outages.”

China’s problem, according to Magnus, “is exacerbated by the fact that the grid and the electricity companies are subject to price controls and cannot pass the prices on.... They have basically cycled back on their coal policy. With COP26 coming up ... If the new relaxations last a few weeks, it might not matter so much. If it lasts into 2022 ... climate policy optimists might have to rethink for sure.”

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