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The Big Picture

China Juggles Energy Transition, Security

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  • The Ukraine crisis is forcing China into a difficult arbitrage between energy transition and energy security in the short term.
  • Economic stability — and if possible, growth — remains Beijing's absolute priority.
  • Decisions being made now could see China peak its carbon emissions closer to 2030, and at a higher level than many would like to see, potentially making for a less orderly transition.

Surging oil and gas prices and geopolitical uncertainties arising from the Ukraine war have left China grasping for more secure, and cheaper, energy. Beijing’s decision to accelerate the country’s nuclear buildup, with six new units adding 7 gigawatts, parallels the fresh interest in nuclear seen in Japan and several European countries. But China is also pushing for more domestic coal. This risks China’s energy transition plans colliding with — and possibly losing out to — its energy security concerns, at least in the short term.

Topics:
Policy and Regulation, Low-Carbon Policy, CO2 Emissions, Coal, Renewable Electricity , Security Risk
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