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In this webinar, speakers from IISD, Greenpeace and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discussed the cost of subsidies to coal in China, the current overcapacity in the coal sector and the development of a bubble of overcapacity of coal generation.

Richard Bridle presented the research from IISD examining the subsidies provided to coal generators and coal producers—around CNY 120 billion and CNY 34 billion respectively. There is widespread agreement that subsidies should be phased out, but the political challenges to reform are substantial. Many resource-dependent regions face economic and social hardship as the coal industry declines. Hongxia Duan summarized the far-reaching reforms that have taken place in the Chinese coal industry, including: closure and consolidation of mines; the current measures aiming to restrict the issuing of new permits for coal generation capacity; and the challenge of tackling unemployment in coal mining areas.

Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace highlighted the tremendous investment in coal generation capacity over recent years and the challenges in slowing down (and eventually reversing) the development of capacity. Lauri explored the barriers to reform including the near-zero cost of capital and the tolerance for very low rates of return.

To reorient the electricity sector away from coal and improve air pollution, there is a need to tackle the zombie companies that are losing money but continue to operate and to provide support to coal workers who face mine closures and a decline in coal generator construction.

To watch the webinar, please click here

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