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China's coal imports from Russia nearly double amid Ukraine crisis

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Beijing | May 21, 2022 2:56:21 PM IST
China's coal imports from Russia nearly doubled between March and April, reaching 4.42 million metric tons, media reports said.

China is buying record amounts of cheap Russian coal which has reached 4.42 million metric tons, CNN reported citing trade data from Refinitiv.

According to the American broadcaster, Russia has overtaken Australia as China's second-biggest supplier since last year and now accounts for 19 per cent of its coal imports, up from the 14 per cent share it had in March.

This record purchase comes even as Western nations, led by the United States and the European Union (EU) are targeting Moscow with sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Ilya Makarov, the director of the corporate ratings at Moscow-based rating agency ACRA, had earlier warned that the Asian shift was straining Russia's rail freight capabilities and risked pushing down coal prices in the Asian market.

The lure of cheaper energy, in the form of gas, coal, and oil, and low-cost wheat from Russia far outweighs the fear of sanctions as China has decided to make deals with Russia as long as it can.

China has taken full advantage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, grabbing the huge discount offered by Moscow on coking coal which is used in steel mills, as Japan and the European Union have curbed imports leaving the Russian companies scrambling for buyers.

Putting aside the reasoning for cheaper coal procurement, this urge to import comes as surprise to many analysts.

Contrary to President Xi Jinping's climate pledges to go carbon neutral by 2060, China has gone back on its promises and continues financing overseas coal projects along with planning to add more coal-fired power plants that will only add to the current carbon emissions.

Notably, in September 2021, China had pledged in September 2021 to stop engagements in the coal-fired plants abroad and also become carbon neutral by 2060, however, all recent actions by China are only another big blow to these climate pledges, reported a think tank, Policy Research Group (POREG).

This year, China has planned to up the ante on coal mining as well. Only in a single year, nearly 300 million tonnes of additional coal will be extracted this year. It will be 7 per cent higher than that mined in 2021-- 4.1 billion tonnes.

China also promised to make efforts to limit the warming of the atmosphere to 2 degrees Celsius above the level of pre-industrial times. But the actions on the ground tell a different story. (ANI)

 
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