Beijing, 15 April, 2016 – A trove of data on economic performance in the first quarter of 2016, released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics this morning, shows that while China’s overall economy saw some improvement, coal use and CO2 continue to fall. Electricity consumption grew 3% year on year, but growth in non-fossil energy pushed fossil power generation down by over 2%. Coal output fell by a dramatic 5%, as coal-fired power generation and steel output was scaled back.

“Today’s data shows that China’s economy is breaking free from coal,” said Greenpeace’s senior campaigner on coal, Lauri Myllyvirta.

“Clean energy is booming and the economic structure is shifting rapidly away from smokestack industries. This is major news for China and the whole world.”

The dramatic remaking of China’s economic structure is highlighted by the widening gap between growth in power demand from the “old” and “new” economic sectors. Manufacturing electricity consumption was flat while demand from service and household sectors grew 11%.

The rapid reduction in China’s reliance on coal and coal-fired power is a boon for global efforts to fight climate change, but should also draw more attention to ballooning overcapacity in coal-fired power and heavy industry. As a legacy of the country’s coal boom, China still has the equivalent of 300 large coal-fired power plants under construction, despite massive overcapacity. [1] A ban on issuing new permits for coal-fired power plants must be implemented and existing overcapacity curtailed.

Notes to editor:
[1] The Greenpeace report ‘Is China Doubling Down on its Coal Power Bubble’ can be seen here
Media contacts:

Tom Baxter,
International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia,
email: [email protected]
phone: +86 188 1134 4861

Lauri Myllyvirta,
Senior Campaigner, Coal, Greenpeace
email: [email protected]
phone: +85264113465

Greenpeace International Press Desk
email: [email protected],
phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)