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22 September 2021

Why China’s pledge to end coal funding abroad is a dramatic moment

Xi Jinping’s country had planned to build more than 56,135 megawatts worth of coal infrastructure by 2050.

By Nicu Calcea

The Chinese president Xi Jinping has pledged to stop building coal energy plants abroad in an effort to tackle climate change. “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said in a video message at the United Nations General Assembly. 

Figures from End Coal, an environmental campaigning group, show that China was by far the biggest investor in coal projects abroad, planning to build more than 56,000 megawatts’ worth of coal infrastructure by 2050. 


Chinese authorities have already put more than 53 gigawatts of coal-generated power online across the world according to End Coal, far more than Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and South Africa combined. 

China's announcement aligns it with Japan and South Korea, which have also announced that they will end support for international coal power plants this year.

The details of Xi’s plan to end support for coal are not yet fully clear, leaving room for some projects to continue construction. The pledge also doesn’t cover China’s domestic coal plans which, according to environmental group E3G, account for more than half of all coal-powered plants under construction throughout the world. 

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