While most of the world works to reduce reliance on coal, China has expanded its coal-powered generation to a level equal to the generating capacity of the European Union. According to a United States-based research group, Global Energy Monitor, China raised its coal-firing capacity by 42.9 gigawatts (gW), or 4.5%, in the last 18 months. In the same period, the rest of the world cut its coal power capacity by 8.1 gW. Coal plants currently under construction in China add another 121.3 gW—enough to power all of France.

China has made progress on its previous pledge to decrease relative coal consumption, cutting coal’s share in total energy use from 68% in 2012 to 59% in 2018. However, China’s coal deployment continues to increase with absolute energy demand. China also finances over a quarter of all coal plants outside its borders, in countries such as Bangladesh and South Africa.

The Global Energy Monitor report calculates that China’s coal expansion threatens climate targets set forth in the Paris Agreement. Researchers say China would need to shut down over 40% of its current coal power capacity in order to prevent global temperature rise from exceeding two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Three powerful coal and power industry groups in China propose further expanding coal capacity by 40%. If adopted, China alone would triple the worldwide limit on coal production set forth in the Paris Agreement (BBC, Reuters, Aljazeera, Bloomberg).