Exclusive-Merkel pushes German tech in urging China to make coal power cleaner

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·2-min read
Reuters interview German Chancellor Merkel
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By Andreas Rinke

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she encouraged Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a call to make sure the new coal-fired power plants that China is building were at least more efficient than older ones, mentioning German companies' expertise.

The outgoing chancellor said there was no ban on such exports from Germany, which could help lower greenhouse emissions, although the state, which is committed to phasing out coal at home, could not subsidise them.

"I have just spoken to the Chinese premier (Li Keqiang) and discussed whether it would not be better, if his country is going to build coal-fired power plants, to at least build the latest generation," said Merkel, who will step down once a new government is sworn in after an election in September.

China, the world's biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, has vowed to bring its carbon emissions to a peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Yet the rising Asian superpower has almost 240 coal-fired power plants planned or already under construction to cover a transition phase before renewable and nuclear energy can take over.

It resisted pressure https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/how-dispute-over-coal-nearly-sank-glasgow-climate-pact-2021-11-14 at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow last week to commit to phasing out coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Meanwhile Germany, which plans to build more gas plants to bridge its own transition to a carbon-neutral economy by 2045, has some of the highest efficiency rates for both coal and gas burning worldwide.

Gas has half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, when burnt for electricity.

But in an interview with Reuters, Merkel questioned what would happen if everybody started building nothing but gas-fired power plants, urging a global approach.

"Could it be that gas prices will shoot up and availability will be affected?" she said. "And how can we roll out renewable energies around the world? We need to find solutions. And to do so, we need global models."

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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