Reduce China’s Coal and Oil Use

Resource
March 10, 2020
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China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. It is also the world’s second-largest consumer and the largest importer of oil. Although these fossil fuels are a driving force behind China’s social and economic development, they have led to grave public-health and environmental problems. Pollution from coal-fired power plants and industries is the largest contributor to climate change and poor air quality in China, while dependence on imported oil presents a threat to China’s national energy security. To combat these issues, NRDC is helping the country reduce its coal and oil consumption, boost energy efficiency, and accelerate the shift to clean, renewable energy.

In 2013, joined by more than 20 leading Chinese government think tanks, research institutes, and industry associations, NRDC launched the China Coal Consumption Cap Project, developing a policy road map to implement a binding national cap on coal consumption. The initiative also accounts for local differences in air quality, clean energy availability, and economic status to help key provinces and cities develop their own action plans. We collaborated with Chinese partners on comprehensive policy research that encouraged China to set the first-ever mandatory cap on coal consumption in the national 13th Five Year Plan for Energy Development, aiming to reduce the share of coal in the total energy mix from 64 percent in 2015 to 58 percent or less by 2020. China is on track to reach that goal this year.

Our research indicates the benefits of this shift—for the environment and public health, as well as the economy. We estimate that the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency could create more than one million new jobs.

In January 2018, NRDC and Energy Foundation China launched the China Oil Consumption Cap Plan and Policy Research Project (China Oil Cap Project). This effort combines resources from more than 10 key partners—including government think tanks, academic institutions, and industry associations—to help China peak and reduce its oil consumption and to promote the safe, efficient, green, and low-carbon utilization of oil resources. The project will help China conserve resources, protect public health, and leap out of the Oil Age into a clean energy future.

Ending China’s heavy dependence on coal and oil will require major new investments. NRDC and our partners’ comprehensive set of energy, industrial, and economic transition policies will help China achieve its long-term economic, environmental, and climate goals.