Stimson in the News

Why Is China Placing A Global Bet On Coal?

Courtney Weatherby quoted in NPR article on Chinese overseas coal plant development

By Courtney Weatherby Quoted
  • April 29, 2019
  • 5:00 pm

China, known as the world’s biggest polluter, has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change. So why is it also building hundreds of coal-fired power plants in other countries?

President Xi Jinping hosted the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing over the weekend, promoting his signature foreign policy of building massive infrastructure and trade links across several continents. The forum, attended by leaders and delegates of nearly 40 countries, came amid growing criticism of China’s projects, including their effect on the environment.

Xi took the highly unusual step, for him, of meeting with international journalists, during which he repeated the slogan that he is committed to “open, clean and green development.”

Yet China’s overseas ventures include hundreds of electric power plants that burn coal, which is a significant emitter of the carbon scientifically linked to climate change. Edward Cunningham, a specialist on China and its energy markets at Harvard University, tells NPR that China is building or planning more than 300 coal plants in places as widely spread as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.

Read the full article.

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