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Climate Change: the China Challenge

Chinese Coal and Sustainable Development

Jean-Marie Martin-Amouroux


A dust cloud over the Pacific visible from orbiting satellites, an alarming growth in mercury content throughout the biosphere in North America, global CO2 emissions greater than those of the United States from 2009: the formidable growth of China’s thermoelectric generating capacity, based on coal production that crossed the threshold of two billion tons (2Gt) in 2005, is becoming one of the major industrial evolutions threatening the global environment. What is more, while the developed world’s ecological impact should, in the future, be moderated by the slowdown in energy growth and far-reaching technological changes, China’s impact is only now beginning to make itself felt. Its current consumption per capita of 1.25 tons equivalent petroleum (TEP) and of 1,607 kWh is still closer to the average of developing countries than to that of the developed world (4.73 and 8,204). Who, and in the name of what principle, could demand of China that it willingly renounces modernisation, which cannot be achieved without an increased supply of electricity, fuelled by coal, the only abundant and cheap energy source at its disposal?

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Electronic reference

Jean-Marie Martin-Amouroux, « Chinese Coal and Sustainable Development », China Perspectives [Online], 2007/1 | 2007, Online since 08 April 2008, connection on 20 June 2018. URL :

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