Coal Power Sector in China, Japan and South Korea: Current Status and the Way Forward for a Cleaner Energy System

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The impacts of climate change have been felt by human society. Global temperature has risen 1°C for the past 100 years, and 2017 was the hottest year on record. Impacts from climate change vary by region; some areas suffer from heavy rain and flooding, whilst others face serious drought, heatwaves and wildfires. Hurricanes and typhoons are becoming stronger, causing storms, storm surge and flooding.

East Asia is no exception. In the beginning of July 2018, western Japan experienced the highest levels of precipitation in recorded history. Dikes and dams burst, killing over 200 people. Later the same month, Japan hit its highest ever temperature of 41.1 °C. Temperatures remained over 35°C for weeks and a number of people were hospitalized due to heatstroke, many of whom later lost their lives.

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy‐saving technologies is already underway. In Europe, an increasing number of countries have declared their intention to end coal use, the most polluting fossil fuel. Fifty countries and public entities founded the “Power Past Coal Alliance” (PPCA), a network advancing the transition away from coal. However, such a movement is yet to be seen in East Asia.

In this report, members of the East Asia Climate Forum from China, Japan and South Korea introduce current status of coal‐fired power plants (CFPPs) and their prospects. All member countries are still heavily dependent on coal. In order to help realize the decarbonized society envisioned by the Paris Agreement, we hope this report could provide a different angle from civil society for a better understanding the issues and general trend of the coal power sector in East Asia, and could contribute to the discussion on a quicker transition to a cleaner energy system.


Product details
Date of Publication
December 2018
China Association for NGO Cooperation, East Asia Climate Network, China Civil Climate Action Network
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents


Chapter 1 Background Climate and Energy Policy
Climate Policy
Energy Policy

Chapter 2 Current Status of Coal‐fired Power Plants
Past and Existing Domestic Coal‐fired Power Plants
Overseas Investment on Coal Power
Application of CCS and IGCC Technology

Chapter 3 Current Regulations on Coal‐fired Power Plants
Leading Policy on Coal Power
Environmental Regulations on Coal‐Fired Power Plant
Impact Assessment
Carbon Pricing Schemes

Chapter 4 Future Trend of Coal‐fired Power Plant
Future Operations and Construction Plan
Future Policy Direction on Coal Power in China  

Chapter 5 Civil Movements on Coal Power
Nationwide Activities
Community Activities
Mixed Success Stories