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Letter from China: China clings to coal

The fuel is too strategically important for China to give it up entirely

China found itself in the spotlight over its continued dependence on coal in the lead-up to the Cop26 climate conference. Developed economies sought a “phase-out” of the fuel in the conference text, but this phrasing was ultimately ditched in favour of a “phase-down”. While India drew most of the flak in the last days of the summit for watering down the language, the dilution will also have mattered significantly to China, given it consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined. China’s intransigence over coal is simple: the fuel—even if it is the single biggest contributor to climate change—is too strategic to give up. This is especially true while China’s energy demand is still g

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