Emissions from China-invested overseas coal plants equal to whole of Spain - research

Cranes unload coal from a cargo ship at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China December 8, 2018. Picture taken December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Carbon dioxide emissions from China-invested power plants overseas now stand at an estimated 245 million tonnes per year, about the same as the annual energy-related CO2 emissions from Spain or Thailand, new research showed on Tuesday.

Chinese companies and government-run investment banks have now financed a total of 171.6 GW of overseas power generation capacity, representing a total of 648 plants in 92 countries, with 113.5 GW already operational, research from Boston University's Global Development Policy Center (GDPC) showed.

About half of that total capacity is fossil-fuel related, and the pipeline of projects could add another 100 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions if they are all completed, said Cecilia Springer, a researcher at the centre.

"China's overseas power portfolio is still dominated by coal and large-scale hydropower, indicating that China can do more to implement its pledge to step up support for green and low-carbon energy in developing countries - especially wind and solar power," she said.

The majority of the China-financed generation capacity in the planning stages now will employ low-carbon energy sources, the Boston University research said, indicating that a recent pledge to end overseas coal-financing is having an effect.

President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly last year that China would stop investing in overseas coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to combat climate change, a move estimated to involve about $50 billion in investment. read more

It led to the immediate cancellation of several overseas projects, though some remained in a "grey area" and could still go ahead, experts said. read more

China is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter as well as its largest coal consumer.

Reporting by David Stanway. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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