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September 22, 2017

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Beijing risks wasting billions on new coal plants: activists

BEIJING--China could waste as much as half a trillion dollars on unnecessary new coal-fired power stations, a climate campaign group said Monday, arguing the world's top carbon polluter already has more than enough such facilities.

The Asian giant's rise to become the world's second largest economy was largely powered by cheap, dirty coal.

But as growth slows, the country has had a difficult time weaning itself off the fuel, even as the pollution it causes wreaks havoc on the environment and public health.

Many of China's giant state-owned coal mining firms are unviable and plagued by overcapacity, but the ruling Communist Party is reluctant to turn off the financial taps and risk widespread unemployment, with its potential for anger and unrest.

As of July, China already had 895 gigawatts in coal-fired power stations — representing more than half its electricity generation — said the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative, which argues for limiting carbon emissions using financial data.

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