China risks missing multiple climate commitments as coal power approvals continue

China is badly off track to meet several climate targets the country set for 2025 as a result of an increase in coal use and investment in coal power, finds the latest report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air and Global Energy Monitor.

Meeting most of the targets is still possible but requires determined action.

The report finds that China approved at least 106 gigawatts (GW) of coal power capacity and started construction on 70 GW in 2023, accelerating further the frantic pace of permitting seen in 2022, the equivalent of two new coal power plants per week, as well as starting construction on one new plant per week. China also commissioned 47 GW of coal-fired capacity and announced 108 GW in new projects in 2023.

Following its 2021 pledge to “strictly control” new coal power, Chinese approvals of new coal power plants increased fourfold over 2022 and 2023, compared with the previous five-year period between 2016 and 2020. 

Since the beginning of 2022, an estimated 218 GW of new coal power plants have been permitted. 89 GW of this capacity had already started construction as of the end of 2023, while another 128 GW had yet to break ground.

Flora Champenois, Research Analyst, Global Energy Monitor (GEM); Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA); Qi Qin, China Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA); Xing Zhang, Researcher, Global Energy Monitor (GEM)

Partners: Global Energy Monitor (GEM)