Climate leadership is now in Asia

These days the United States’ federal government is promoting coal and backtracking on climate ambition and the European Union is no longer cutting its greenhouse gases emissions. So, who is leading the fight against climate change ? China, India and South Korea are. 

Here are news information I collected today on the very subject. All this corroborates what I wrote at the beginning of the year on how India and China are going full speed against climate change.


According to new findings from Climate Action Tracker, India and China are actually years ahead of their climate commitments. Here are some details:

Positive developments on coal use in China and India are likely to reduce projected global carbon emissions growth by roughly two to three billion tonnes by 2030 compared to forecasts made a year ago, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) said today.


(…) both China and India are set to overachieve their Paris Agreement climate pledges. China’s coal consumption declined over three consecutive years (2013 to 2016), and a continued slow decline is expected. India has stated that its planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed. If the country fully implements recently announced policies, India would see a significant slowing in the growth of CO2 emissions over the next decade.


“Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “Recent observations show they are now on the way toward overcoming this challenge.”


Climate Action Tracker explains why this brutal change: cheaper, cost-competitive renewables. Now, not only coal is spewing insane amounts of carbon dioxide – one kilogram per kilo-watt/hour on average – it is also now more expensive than wind, solar, and soon battery storage. Renewables do not emit any greenhouse gases during their operations and emit 50 times less carbon dioxide over their life cycles (around 20 grams of CO2 per kWh according to a meta-study…)

As if this was not enough, the two Asian giants are also progressing on another part of the energy transition: electric vehicles. Recently India has unveiled working on having only electric cars on the roads by 2030.  Cleantechnica has a full article on that.

Meanwhile, in China, 20 percent of new buses are already full electric. This amounts to over 115,000 new electric buses just in 2016, an increase by a factor 70 in just three years!


But let us leave India and China for a while and concentrate on South Korea where the newly elected President, Moon Jae-in, has announced that his country will close ten of its coal-fired plants permanently within the next five years.

Quartz reports that the Land of the Morning Calm has seen its coal-burning recently increase as its nuclear power plants faced problems and as coal supplied the necessary power. The country has 53 coal-fired plants. So, the new President’s plan would mean cutting by 20 percent the coal-burning. While this is a good news, especially in only five years, more has to be done to reach carbon neutrality. Rest asured that I will keep you all updated on that.

All in all, these are good news and I am happy that some countries see the benefits of fighting global climate change and local air pollution.


Photo credits: Flickr, Travel Oriented.

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