Lifts have stopped working and street lights have gone dark in Chinese provinces that are home to millions of people as authorities ration electricity in the face of rising coal prices and targets to reduce carbon emissions.
lobal consumers could also experience a shortage of iPhones and other electronics in the lead-up to Christmas after power cuts to meet energy consumption caps forced factories to halt production.
Cities including Shenyang and Dalian – home to a combined 14 million – have been affected, with disruption at factories owned by suppliers to Apple and Tesla.
Cars are stuck in traffic jams, people are dusting off torches and shopkeepers are lighting candles as a last resort.
While energy caps are a way of addressing climate change, idle factories have widespread implications for global supply chains and could squeeze growth in the world’s second-largest economy. Economists at Nomura have cut their economic growth forecast for the year to 7.7pc from 8.2pc.
Energy-intensive industries, including aluminium smelters and gold mines, have also suspended operations. Paper and glass suppliers could be hit next. The food industry is also suffering without refrigeration.
Jilin is one of more than 10 provinces that have been forced to ration power as coal prices soar. Han Jun, the governor of the province with a population of 27 million, said “multiple channels” needed to be set up to guarantee coal supplies and that China should source more from Russia, Mongolia and Indonesia.
Beijing has encouraged people to buy electric vehicles to reduce pollution, but electricity rationing has meant some people have not been able to charge them.
In a country where nearly everything is linked to smartphones, such as digital wallets, delivery services and vaccine certs, being unable to plug them in can be debilitating.
Power limits are a further worry for residents of northern China, which suffers harsh winters. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)
Telegraph Media Group Limited