Coal Peak or Plateau? Digging into the Climate and Water Impacts of China’s Decarbonization | Wilson Center
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Coal Peak or Plateau? Digging into the Climate and Water Impacts of China’s Decarbonization

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Webcast Recap

Coal’s long reign in China may not be ending anytime soon, but aggressive policies to close coal mines and power plants while ramping up renewables have contributed to a significant drop in China’s coal consumption every years since 2013. While still leading the world in coal consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, China’s CO2 emissions have remained relatively flat over the past three years. Chinese energy experts claim the country is on track to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments and hit peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner. Yet, investments in western China into coal-to-gas industries and the power sector’s difficulties integrating expanding wind and solar farms onto the grid could stall this decarbonization. 

At this March 13th CEF meeting, speakers will dig behind these coal trends to discuss if they signify a near peak or if this is just a pause in coal consumption before another curve upwards. Barbara Finamore (NRDC) will discuss the decarbonization trends in the Chinese power sector and some of the obstacles the government faces as it pushes a clean energy future.  Zhou Xizhou (IHS Markit) will talk about how China’s fossil fuel companies are adding more renewables while simultaneously investing in carbon- and water-intensive coal-to-gas and other coal conversion industries. Jennifer Turner will highlight some of the water risks that coal development poses for drought-sensitive western China. 


  • Barbara Finamore

    Senior Attorney and Asia Director, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Zhou Xi Zhou

    Senior Director, IHS Markit's Power, Gas, Renewables and Coal group
  • Jennifer L. Turner

    Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative