As Republicans in the US voted in the House and Senate to permanently block regulations to lower emissions from power plants, China announced it will cut emissions from coal-fired power plants 60% by 2020.
That’s double the cuts in the US Clean Power Plan, which would reduce emissions from power plants 32% by 2025 – the greatest source of US emissions.
China will get there by upgrading coal plants (an option available in the US Clean Power Plan), reducing emissions by 180 million metric tons.
China also announced it is raising renewable energy targets, to an amazing 150-200 gigawatts (GW) of solar by 2020 (up from 70GW), and 250 GW of wind (up from 200GW). The government is pressing companies to bring down costs, by 2% a year for solar and 3-5% for wind, says Li Junfeng, director for climate change strategy at the National Development and Reform Commission of China.
This year, China will install almost as much solar as exists in the entire US.
Speaking at a COP21 event, Xie Zhenhua, who heads China’s delegation, says: "China is entering a new normal of energy and resource conservation. We can seek a different way through ecologically driven wealth generation," reports Yale 360.
Instead of building two coal plans a week, as it’s done for the past decade, "China is now building the clean energy equivalent of one coal-fired power station every week," Richard Black, director of UK-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told Yale 360. And instead of leading a world-wide coal boom, this about-face is spreading to developing countries.
Dozens of coal-fired power plants are now idle in China and coal imports have dropped 35%, reducing coal use 5-8% this year, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. That’s prevented numerous big coal mining projects from going forward around the world.
Read our article, China Gets a B+ On Climate Pledges.
Another major announcement comes out of Africa – the launch of the African Renewable Energy Initiative – with the incredible goal of reaching 300 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy by 2030.
This is amazing, because right now the entire continent only has 160 GW of energy capacity of any kind.
The initial target is 10 GW of renewables by 2020, after which it will quickly and dramatically ramp over the following decade.
African Development Bank unveiled the initiative and will devote up to 40% of its total resources to finance it. The World Bank will invest $16 billion, and the $100 billion Green Climate Fund will be another important source of backing.
Last year, the Bank started the African Renewable Energy Fund to support small and medium-size companies that produce renewable energy.
"This will catalyze investors, so I can assure you that in a few years time we may be looking at $500 million to $1 billion" for the Fund, says Gabriel Negatu of African Development Bank.