China has cancelled 103 coal-fired power plants in a dramatic bid to meet its own energy targets, the government announced this week.
The state has committed to limiting its coal-fired power generation capacity to 1,100 gigawatts by 2020.
Energy experts are confident the move will enable China to meet the limit, which is equivalent to three times the coal capacity of the US.
Dozens of the cancelled projects include coal-fired power stations in the north and west of the country which are already under construction.
Greenpeace data shows those projects alone would have generated more than 54 gigawatts, more energy than Germany generates from coal.
But some experts have expressed doubts about whether the local governments most affected by the move will follow orders.
Lin Boqiang, director of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy in southeastern China, told the New York Times: “Some projects might have been ongoing for 10 years, and now there’s an order to stop them.”
“It’s difficult to persuade the local governments to give up on them,” Boqiang said.
But he added that because the directive names specific projects set for cancellations, it might be difficult for officials to ignore.
The move comes after thousands of residents were forced to leave Beijing last month as smog levels soared.
More than 700 coal and other industrial plants have been forced to cease production amid the pollution crisis.
In total, 460 million people in northern China have been affected by the crisis, which extends far beyond Beijing’s borders.
Oil Change International revealed in October that the only way of reducing global warming to a safe limit is phasing out many coal, gas and oil extrations earlier than planned.
Even an immediate ban on tapping new fossil fuel reserves would still lead to the COP21’s 1.5C global warming goal being broken, according to the analysis.
Researchers said that if existing reserves are fully exploited, we will pass the 1.5C goal and just break the 2C limit.