China is currently experiencing one of the worst energy crunches in its recent history, due to a combination of factors that range from a shortage of coal from suppliers, skyrocketing coal prices, a growing demand for energy from both household and industrial consumers (night temperatures fell sharply, prompting a spike in demand for heating) and newly introduced policies that aim to curb carbon emissions.The country is trying to post good results at the U.N. environmental conference by video link on Oct. 12-13 in the southwestern city of Kunming, and at the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), to take place in November in Glasgow. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer and source of climate-warming greenhouse gas, has said it aims to slow down carbon emissions by 2030 and to net zero by 2060.

Consequently, starting last week, the government has rationed the supply of electricity during peak hours in many parts of northeastern China, urging citizens and companies alike to save energy as much as possible to avoid blackouts. According to reports, affected areas include provinces Liaoning, Jilin, Jiangsu, Heilongjiang. Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shandong, Fujian, Yunnan and Guangxi.

Industries affected so far include semiconductors, automotive, steel, aluminum, cement, with paper and glass said to follow. At least 15 Chinese companies have reported disruptions due to power cuts, while 30 Taiwan-registered companies with Chinese operations have halted work to comply with power usage limits. It seems some provinces have already reached the new emission quotas imposed by Beijing and are forced to stop production. According to sources in the industry, the bagasse food packaging sector is already affected and will continue to suffer power shortages.

Some experts believe the crisis will continue until March 2022, at the earliest, since Beijing will try to keep emissions low to benefit from clear skies during the upcoming Winter Olympics.