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Net Zero Ever More Problematic: Global Coal-Fired Power Capacity Went Up in 2022 / China’s Increase Overpowers the Rest of the World

April 10, 2023

In a report released April 5, 2023, the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) produced its’ ninth annual survey of the “coal plant pipeline.” While the amount of planned coal-fired power plant capacity in developing countries fell by 23 gigawatts (GW), China’s planned capacity overpowered that reduction by over five times, i.e., 126 GW.

Since the Paris Agreement was entered into force on November 4, 2016, the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) have targeted the need to phase out coal power by 2040. See COP26 (Glasgow) and COP27 (Egypt).

Other countries are attempting to fulfill their obligations to reach Net Zero by 2050, but that goal is slipping farther and farther away.

As the GEM press release states:

New coal plants were added in 14 countries and eight countries announced new coal projects. China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Zimbabwe were the only countries that both added new coal plants and announced new projects. China accounted for 92% of all new coal project announcements.

China added 26.8 gigawatts and India added about 3.5 gigawatts of new coal power capacity to their electricity grids [in 2022]. China also gave clearance for nearly 100 gigawatts of new coal power projects with construction likely to begin this year.

In contrast, the U.S. shutdown 13.5 GW of coal power and 16 other countries closed coal-fired power plants, as well.

To actually meet the Paris Agreement’s 2050 goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Centigrade (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), countries need to retire 117 GW of coal power each year.  With only 26 GW actually retired in 2022, the outlook is what scientists say is not only aggravating, but dangerous.

This post was drafted by John Watson, an attorney in the Denver, Colorado office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit