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Climate Change

China to bolster energy security as ties with US and Australia sour

In a move away from LNG and coal imports, Beijing to tap more renewables

A solar power station in Tongchuan, China: Beijing views renewable sources as crucial to achieving energy security, along with combating climate change.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China outlined plans Monday to enhance its energy security through greater use of renewable sources on mounting tensions with key fossil fuel exporters like the U.S. and Australia.

"We are aiming for diverse and secure energy sources in order to maintain our supply-demand balance," Zhang Jianhua, director of China's National Energy Administration, told reporters that day.

Though China produces a large amount of coking coal, it imports higher-quality coal from Australia and liquefied natural gas from the U.S. Beijing's growing diplomatic feuds with Canberra and Washington could disrupt the flow of these fuels, damaging President Xi Jinping's efforts to create independent supply chains at home.

Wind, solar and other renewable sources lie at the heart of Beijing's plan for energy security and self-sufficiency. China's energy white paper published Monday committed to the creation of a national trading mechanism for carbon emissions, and utilities and other businesses will be encouraged to sign up.

Zhang named stronger energy security as a priority under China's new five-year economic plan, which begins in 2021. The government intends to include this goal in its new basic law on energy.

Non-fossil fuels are expected to account for 15.8% of China's primary energy this year, Zhang said. That figure has risen roughly 6 percentage points from 2012, with more increases expected as Xi aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.

Zhang also cited other policy priorities, including electrifying China's cities and villages and promoting the use of data in power distribution.

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