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China sees biggest growth in energy and coal use since 2011

China’s overall energy consumption and coal use increased to their highest levels since 2011, as the economy rebounded from the COVID-19 downturn a year earlier, according to data released by the country’s statistics agency on Monday.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China, the world’s largest coal consumer and emitter, utilized 5.24 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent energy last year, up 5.2 percent from 2020.

According to the NBS, coal consumption in China increased by 4.6 percent in 2021, the fastest rate of growth in a decade. According to Reuters records based on official data, the rate of growth was the greatest since 2011.

The government has promised to limit building in high-energy-consuming industries and has urged businesses to preserve energy and improve efficiency, citing the fact that rising fossil-fuel consumption is weakening goals to reduce carbon emissions.

President Xi Jinping has promised to cap China’s carbon emissions by 2030 and attain carbon neutrality by 2060. He has not, however, placed a limit on total energy consumption or carbon emissions.

China’s energy intensity – a ratio calculating how much energy is utilized per unit of economic growth – decreased 2.7 percent in 2021, compared to a projected reduction of “about 3 percent” for the year.

Last year, China permitted the expansion of hundreds of coal mines, resulting in an annual capacity growth of 5%.

China allowed the expansion of hundreds of collieries, increasing yearly capacity by around 420 million tonnes. As it worked to ensure energy supply following a statewide power outage, output hit a new high.

Coal miners were ordered to maximize operations in order to maintain market supply, and daily coal output has risen to levels seen in late 2021, according to the state planner.

China is easing back on environmental obligations to prop up an economy weakened by supply-chain disruption and “zero-COVID” limits, according to analysts.

On Saturday, during an annual assembly of parliament, China is expected to publish objectives for energy intensity and carbon intensity (which quantifies how much carbon is emitted while increasing the economy).

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