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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's energy crisis is a wild card in the fraught efforts to secure a meaningful deal at the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Driving the news: Power shortages and the push for more coal supplies are in tension with calls for Chinese officials to accelerate their climate efforts.

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, per state media, said officials must "take into account...the contradiction between the supply and demand of electricity and coal" as they assess their emissions timeline.
  • President Xi Jinping has previously vowed an emissions peak before 2030, but advocates are hoping for more aggressive moves ahead of the summit that have yet to emerge.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest carbon emitter.

What they're saying: "The energy crisis will make China's climate politics complicated," Li Shuo, a China analyst with Greenpeace, tells Axios via email.

  • "The timing here is unfortunate — the optics of releasing a bunch of climate policies while struggling with power supply is one that policy makers have to consider carefully," he added.
  • The Bloomberg piece is more blunt, noting that China's power crisis and its threat to economic growth is "prompting policy makers to rethink the pace of the nation’s energy transition."

Between the lines: Some of China's coal shortage is due to extreme weather, in the form of heavy rains and flooding in the coal-producing Shanxi region. Flooding has knocked dozens of mines out of commission.

Data: BP; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The chart above helps explain why limits on coal supplies are creating a crisis in China and why it matters for climate change talks.

The big picture: China accounts for roughly half of global coal demand to power its huge industrial base and provide electricity to its population.

  • Achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement depend on the pace of China's transition from most CO2-emitting fuel.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
19 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Saudi Arabia vows net-zero emissions by 2060

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the opening of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, via video link, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia on Saturday pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, deepened its 2030 targets and joined an international coalition seeking to cut emissions of the potent planet-warming gas methane by 30% in nine years.

Why it matters: The pledges from the world's largest oil exporter come just before COP26, a key United Nations summit opening Oct. 31 that is aimed at rallying worldwide actions to stem emissions that are currently on pace to bring global warming well beyond the Paris Agreement goals.

China says there's "no room" for compromise on Taiwan with U.S.

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Chinese government spokesperson on Friday said that there is "no room" for compromise over Taiwan after President Biden commented that the U.S. would defend the island if it were attacked, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden’s comments were initially seen as undercutting the U.S. government’s long-standing position of “strategic ambiguity” toward whether it would defend Taiwan, which China views as a rebellious territory. A White House spokesperson quickly clarified that there is no change in U.S. policy.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.