Chinese Power Companies called out

Feature story - 28 July, 2009
Activists at one of Beijing’s dirtiest coal fired power plants are the latest to take action in the global call for an Energy [R]evolution, demanding an end to dirty energy and immediate action on climate change from Heads of State and top power companies.

Greenpeace China unfurls a No Coal banner outside a power station in Beijing.

The action comes as Greenpeace China releases a powerful new report Polluting Power: Ranking China's top power companies - the first of its kind in China - which ranks the top 10 power companies on their greenhouse polluting performance.

China: the world's biggest miner and biggest burner of coal

The China's power sector is simply not moving fast enough on developing renewable energy. By the end of last year, only one of those top 10 power companies had reached the mandatory 3 percent renewable (from non-hydro source) energy target set by the Chinese government. And although that target has a deadline of 2010, it is unlikely that 8 of the 10 companies will reach it.

The 10 power companies burned 590 million tons of coal last year which represent just over half of China's energy production. Since China has not released recent greenhouse gas emissions data, we've used this figure (provided by the energy companies themselves) to calculate how much carbon dioxide they would produce annually and it came to 1.44 billion tons of carbon dioxide! Need some context?  These power companies are producing about the same amount of carbon dioxide per KW as most developed nations. Or just compare that 1.44 billion to the 2.5 billion tons that the entire US energy sector emitted in 2007.


As with all major economies, China needs its power companies to aggressively develop their renewable energy sector. The Chinese government has set a 15 percent target for renewable energy by 2020, which is more than many developed nations. We know China can do better: we are asking for 30 percent by 2020.

This is not another reason to blame China, but simply intended to show how much can and has to be achieved. Some developed countries are using China's rapidly growing energy use as an excuse for their own lack of action. This is despite the majority of the man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today being from rich countries. Developed countries need to take action first, as they promised 17 years ago when they signed the climate convention.

The UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen is rapidly approaching; it's time for all Heads of State to commit to taking personal responsibility for showing up to the meeting and making a fair deal for the climate.

Take Action

Tell Obama of the US, Hu of China, Brown of the UK, Merkel of Germany, Sarkozy of France, and Lula of Brazil that they must join Prime Minister Tusk, clear their calendars and show up at the UN meeting to secure the future of the planet, and take personal action to get us out of this mess.

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