China's three largest power companies emit more CO2 than the entire of Britain, Greenpeace said today.
A new report found by burning 20 per cent of China's coal in 2008, the top ten companies emitted an equivalent of 1.44 billion tonnes of CO2.
That year the largest three (Huaneng, Datang and Guodian) together emitted more than the United Kingdom's total emissions during the same period.
Greenpeace said if China's power companies phased out inefficient coal-fired plants under 100 megawatt by 2012, it could reduce coal consumption by 90 million tonnes and avoid 220 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
The ten companies provide 60 per cent of China's total electricity and according to Greenpeace they rely heavily on coal.
The organisation is urging the companies to help to move China away from coal and to cut CO2 emissions by aggressively improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy.
" Climate change is humankind's most urgent environmental problem," said Greenpeace climate campaign manager Yang Ailun.
"China's power companies are not only the key coal consumer but also the major CO2 emitter. All parts of Chinese society must play a role in moving China away from intensive coal dependence and these major polluters must not be exempt from this responsibility.
"China is suffering the pains of extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves, typhoons and floods, worsened by climate change.
"These power companies can and must help China to prevent climate disaster by rapidly increasing efficiency and the share of renewable energy such as wind and solar."
Activists unfurled a banner in front of a coal-filled power station in west Beijing today, with the words "Save the Climate" in Chinese and a symbol for "No Coal".
The organisation is calling on the Chinese government to introduce a price signal for coal which not only effectively drives power companies to rapidly move to renewable energy, but also ensures that, during the transition, coal is used as efficiently as possible.
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