China Urged to Take Bigger Role in Regulating Energy Markets

China, consuming about half the world’s coal supply to produce power, must play a greater role in regulating global energy markets and climate protection, according to the World Energy Council’s secretary general.

The world’s most populous nation should send stronger signals to prevent average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), said Christoph Frei of the London-based group that promotes access to energy and sets rules for trading. China may join emerging nations including Brazil, Russia and India in backing a development bank, and it may widen its role in United Nations-overseen climate talks, he said in a May 31 interview from London.

“The pressure for China to take a greater role is increasing,” Frei said. China could send a “very important signal” by setting an emissions cap after 2015, he said.

China has been reluctant to limit emissions linked to climate change, citing concerns about sustaining its economic growth. The country has drafted plans to set emission-intensity targets and cap in its five-year plan through 2020, the 21st Century Business Herald reported May 20.

China and the U.S. established a climate-change working group in April that will report to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue talks in July, Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy on climate change, said May 31.

“We hope that this can become a new highlight of the China-U.S. bilateral relationship.” Xie Zhenhua, China’s lead climate negotiator, said in Beijing May 31.

Climate Target Questioned

Without a carbon price, the 2 degrees target is looking “unrealistic,” said Frei. “Time is running out if world leaders are to have any chance of adapting energy infrastructure to enable growth, enhance energy access and deliver on the climate objectives,” he said, citing a study the council will present at its congress in October.

About 1,200 coal power plants are proposed around the world, mostly in China and India, Frei said. Building them all would boost emissions by about 20 billion tons a year, he said. That’s about 59 percent of emissions from energy in 2011, according to statistics published June last year by BP Plc.

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