BEIJING, March 15, China Daily -- China's coal consumption has fallen for the third year in a row as part of its broader effort to develop the nonfossil fuel sector, according to Haibing Ma, China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based climate think tank.

"China has experienced a lot of development of its nonfossil fuel energy capacity during the past 10 to 15 years," Ma says. 

"According to the latest numbers I've seen, by the end of last year nonfossil fuel energy consumption in China accounted for 19.7 percent of its total energy consumption. The country has almost reached its goal of 20 percent in the Paris Agreement." 

He says this gives China even more space to keep increasing its nonfossil fuel energy consumption, which is aided by its decrease in coal use. 

Coal consumption dropped to 62 percent of total energy consumption in 2016 from 64 percent the year before. The levels are the lowest they've been in China since 1990.

China also has phased out "inefficient or energy-intensive industrial capacity", which used to be a main contributing factor for emissions, says Ma, who studies green economy initiatives and effects in China at the institute. 

"A related story is that China became the global leading clean product producer" — products such as solar panels and wind turbines, he says. 

"If you look at the top 10 solar PV manufacturers in the world, Chinese manufacturers account for at least half of them, and the wind turbine manufacturer list is a similar story. In fact, building up such a strong and global influence in the clean-product industry is a reason that China wants to boost renewable energy." 

Ma also gave credit to the speed of China's emissions mitigation. The country's total carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP decreased 38.6 percent in the 10 years between 2005 and 2015. 

China pledged in the Paris Agreement that carbon emissions would peak around 2030. It also says it will reduce its emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels, increase its non-fossil fuel share of energy consumption to approximately 20 percent and increase forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters from 2005 levels.

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