China’s coal imports from Russia almost doubled between March and April, reaching 4.42 million metric tons, according to media reports.
China is buying record amounts of cheap Russian coal which reached 4.42 million metric tons, CNN reported citing trade data from Refinitiv.
According to the US broadcaster, Russia has overtaken Australia as China’s second largest supplier since last year and now accounts for 19% of its coal imports, up from 14% in March.
The record purchase comes even as Western countries, led by the United States and the European Union (EU), are targeting Moscow with sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.
Ilya Makarov, director of corporate ratings at the Moscow-based rating agency ACRA, had previously warned that the Asian shift was straining Russia’s rail freight capacities and risking lower coal prices on the Asian market.
The lure of cheaper energy, in the form of gas, coal and oil, and cheap wheat from Russia far outweighs the fear of sanctions, as China has decided to enter into agreements with Russia for as long as it can.
China took full advantage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, taking advantage of the huge discount offered by Moscow on coking coal used in steel mills, while Japan and the European Union curbed imports, leaving the Russian companies scramble to find buyers.
Reasoning for a cheaper coal supply aside, this urge to import surprises many analysts.
Contrary to President Xi Jinping’s climate pledges to become carbon neutral by 2060, China has backtracked on its promises and continues to fund overseas coal projects while planning to add more coal-fired power plants that will only increase current carbon emissions.
Notably, in September 2021, China had pledged in September 2021 to end overseas coal-fired power commitments and also become carbon neutral by 2060, however, all recent actions by China are just another blow to these climate commitments, reported a tank thinker, Policy Research Group (POREG).
This year, China also plans to increase its stake in coal mining. In just one year, nearly 300 million additional tons of coal will be mined this year. It will be 7% higher than that extracted in 2021, i.e. 4.1 billion tonnes.
China has also pledged to make efforts to limit atmospheric warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But the actions on the ground tell a different story.
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