China wants to go carbon neutral, but has no way to forcibly end its reliance on coal
Can you force a power grid operator to ditch coal-fired power in favor of renewable energy? That's what Chinese courts are deciding in two landmark environmental law cases.
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Officials from all over the world, including the U.S. and China, will meet next month in Scotland at the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26. China will be a key player at the meeting. It wants to go carbon neutral in four decades, but it needs to stop using coal, which would hurt its economic growth. Whether the government can force companies into this trade-off is being decided in two landmark environmental cases in China. NPR's Emily Feng reports.
EMILY FENG, BYLINE: China generates abundant solar and wind energy. The problem is storing that power. Then there's transporting it to the cities where it's needed. But the national grid has cheaper options like coal-fired power. This problem is called curtailment, and no one knows how much solar and wind power is going unused because of it. Here's Liu Jinmei, a lawyer at the Chinese environmental NGO Friends of Nature.
LIU JINMEI: (Through interpreter) A challenge is that we have no access to data on how much electricity is actually being wasted.