As China attempts to reduce coal consumption and coal-fired power plants at home, the country will also make consistent efforts to help other developing nations phase out fossil fuels and develop new energy, a senior climate official said on Tuesday.
Li Gao, director of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's climate change department, said China has been making great efforts to help developing countries with renewable energies. "Actually, in recent years, our persistent support for renewable energy development in these countries has experienced more robust growth," he said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office.
China has, for example, donated facilities for photovoltaic power generation and energy-efficient equipment to many developing nations via South-South cooperation, he added.
Li said China's resolve to help developing nations in their low-carbon transition is also shown in the China-US Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis, which was released on April 18.
According to the statement, both countries intend to take appropriate action to maximize international investment and finance in support of the transition from carbon-intensive fossil-fuel-based energy to green, low-carbon and renewable energy in developing countries.
However, Li emphasized that coal-fired power remains necessary for many poor countries, considering their current economic conditions and the high cost of renewable energy.
"We've noticed that some people in the international community have called to stop building coal-fired plants completely. But they haven't thought about many people in some developing countries having no access to electricity at all," he said.
Instead of simply cutting off all coal-fired plants, Li said more consideration should be given to meeting the actual needs of poor nations as they scramble to satisfy people's energy demand.
"When we cope with climate change, we should take into account their needs to improve livelihoods and develop the economy," he said.
Li said it's impossible to see poor nations shift overnight from coal-fired power to renewable energy, the cost of which is currently beyond what they could bear.
He emphasized that it's in accordance with their actual needs that China has offered support to certain coal-fired power plants in some developing nations. Moreover, with high standards for pollutant control, the plants China has helped build are even more efficient than those in many developed countries including the United States.
As President Xi Jinping said on Thursday at the Leaders Summit on Climate that China will strictly control coal consumption and coal-fired power generation projects, Li said no large development of coal-fired power will happen in China any longer as the country forges ahead with its climate process. "In the meantime, we'll make greater efforts to develop renewable energies," he said.
With no technology breakthrough to address the intermittent problem of renewable energy in the short term, coal-fired power plants are still needed to help ensure safe operation of the grid.
"But China will no longer develop coal-fired plants on a large scale. This is very explicit," he said.