Top Power Companies Weakening China’s Climate Role

Press release - 2009-07-28
China’s top ten power companies and their heavy reliance on coal are hindering the country’s efforts to tackle climate change, a new Greenpeace report reveals today. Greenpeace urges the companies to help to move China away from coal and to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by aggressively improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy.

Polluting power: ranking China's power companies

"Climate change is humankind's most urgent environmental problem. China's power companies are not only the key coal consumer but also the major CO2 emitter. All parts of Chinese society must play a role in moving China away from intensive coal dependence and these major polluters must not be exempt from this responsibility," said Greenpeace Climate Campaign Manager Yang Ailun, at a press conference where Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner in front of a coal-fired power station west of Beijing, with the words "Save the Climate" in Chinese and a symbol for "No Coal".

The top ten power companies provide almost 60% of China's total electricity, the report "Polluting Power: Ranking China's Biggest Power Companies", points out. By burning 20% of China's coal in 2008, the companies emitted an equivalent of 1.44 billion tonnes of CO2. In 2008, the largest three (Huaneng, Datang and Guodian) together emitted more than the United Kingdom's total emissions in the same year, the report says.

Yang said, "China is suffering the pains of extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves, typhoons and floods, worsened by climate change. These power companies can and must help China to prevent climate disaster by rapidly increasing efficiency and the share of renewable energy such as wind and solar."

In the past three and a half years, 54.07 gigawatt of the least efficient coal-fired plants were closed down, which is more than the total installed electricity capacity of Australia. Greenpeace urges the Chinese power companies to phase out all inefficient coal-fired plants under 100 megawatt by 2012. By doing so, China could reduce coal consumption by 90 million tonnes and avoid 220 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

According to China's Renewable Energy Mid- and Long-Term Development Plan, by 2010, large power companies, including the top ten listed in this report, are obliged to have at least 3% of their installed capacity from non-hydro renewable sources. By the end of 2008, eight out of the ten were not even half way to meeting this modest target, the report noted.

"Yet, China has a huge potential to become the world leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies," Yang said.

Greenpeace is calling on the Chinese government to introduce a price signal for coal that not only effectively drives power companies to rapidly move to renewable energy, but also ensures that, during the transition, coal is used as efficiently as possible. China must also double its national renewable energy target to 30% by 2020. "In order to achieve these targets, the electricity sector, especially the large power companies, must play their crucial role. The challenges China is facing in the lead up to the UN Climate Meeting in Copenhagen this December will be even larger without serious actions to cut emissions by these companies," Yang concluded.

Contacts:

Tom Wang: Chief Media Officer, Greenpeace China

+86-10-65546931 ext 151; +86-13910902617;

Ailun Yang: Climate Campaign Manager, Greenpeace China

+86-10-65512602 ext 106; +86-13910514449;

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Download report here.

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