China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said on Thursday “it is unrealistic to completely phase out fossil fuel energy”, adding that the continued use of fossil fuels would be necessary for energy security.

This year has seen lower levels of rainfall and higher temperatures across Asia, resulting in the fastest drop in hydropower electricity generation regionally in decades, with particularly sharp declines in China and India.

Between January and August 2023, China’s hydroelectricity generation fell by 15.9%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, making it the fastest rate of decline since 1989. This shortfall saw China turn to fossil fuels, increasing electricity generation from thermal power sources such as coal by 6.1%.

“Despite a strong growth in solar and wind power generation in Asia, supply from fossil-fuel thermal power plants has also increased this year as a result of a large decline in hydropower generation,” an industry analyst told Reuters. “Intense and prolonged heatwaves across the region have resulted in low reservoir levels and the need for alternative sources of power to help meet demand.”

China has shown previous resistance to the complete phasing out of fossil fuels, leading the push to shift the language of the final agreement at the 2021 Glasgow UN climate talks from “phasing out” to “phasing down” fossil fuels.

However, there has been a significant increase in focus on the environment in China. In an analysis of filings made by power companies headquartered in China between 2016 and 2022, GlobalData, Energy Monitor‘s parent company, found that mentions of “environment” had more than quadrupled. 

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Despite the ongoing prevalence of fossil fuels in China, the shift reflects a move towards cleaner power sources.

Our signals coverage is powered by GlobalData’s Thematic Engine, which tags millions of data items across six alternative datasets — patents, jobs, deals, company filings, social media mentions and news — to themes, sectors and companies. These signals enhance our predictive capabilities, helping us to identify the most disruptive threats across each of the sectors we cover and the companies best placed to succeed.