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China To Expand Coal Use As It Prioritizes Energy Security

Despite pledges to contribute to global efforts of reducing emissions, China will continue to maximize the use of coal in coming years as it caters to its energy security, the top Chinese policymakers said this week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told representatives from its biggest coal-producing region, Inner Mongolia, that China "could not part from reality" and that it is "rich in coal, poor in oil and short of gas," Reuters reported on Friday.

The energy transition is a long process and China cannot just "slam the brakes" on coal, according to Xi.

China's energy mix continues to ‎shift to a greener one, but coal still represented more than half of its energy mix, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. In 2020, the latest available data, coal's ‎share fell to 57 percent, ‎compared to 58 percent in 2019. But Chinese coal exports rose to their highest level since 2014, and domestic coal output also rose, the BP review found.

Last month, China said it would help run its coal-fired power plants at full capacity in a bid to ensure energy security, despite the climate goals of the world's largest polluter. 

China is concerned about its energy security after the autumn 2021 power crisis and, most recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which pushed energy commodity prices sky-high. 

China, the world's largest coal consumer and largest greenhouse gas emitter, has said it targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, but last autumn's power crisis and record-high global coal prices amid an overall energy shortage made energy security a top priority for the country.

A few months ago, China ordered a ramp-up of coal production, which hit record-highs for both December 2021 and the whole of 2021.

China plans to increase its crude oil, natural gas, and coal production, boost reserves of energy commodities, and keep stable imports to ensure its energy security amid skyrocketing commodities prices, the top Chinese economic planner said last week. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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