Carbon dioxide emissions from China-invested power plants overseas now stand at an estimated 245 million tonnes per year, about the same as the annual energy-related CO2 emissions from Spain or Thailand, new research showed on Tuesday.
Chinese companies and government-run investment banks have now financed a total of 171.6 GW of overseas power generation capacity, representing a total of 648 plants in 92 countries, with 113.5 GW already operational, research from Boston University's Global Development Policy Center (GDPC) showed.
About half of that total capacity is fossil-fuel related, and the pipeline of projects could add another 100 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions if they are all completed, said Cecilia Springer, a researcher at the centre.
"China's overseas power portfolio is still dominated by coal and large-scale hydropower, indicating that China can do more to implement its pledge to step up support for green and low-carbon energy in developing countries - especially wind and solar power," she said.
The majority of the China-financed generation capacity in the planning stages now will employ low-carbon energy sources, the Boston University research said, indicating that a recent pledge to end overseas coal-financing is having an effect.
President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly last year that China would stop investing in overseas coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to combat climate change, a move estimated to involve about $50 billion in investment. Read full story
It led to the immediate cancellation of several overseas projects, though some remained in a "grey area" and could still go ahead, experts said. Read full story
China is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter as well as its largest coal consumer.