A Free-Market Energy Blog

Climate Futility at COP 25: The China Syndrome

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 5, 2019

The battle against dense, mineral energies is stymied because of a simple concept that the climate alarmists (including the mainstream media) do not want to comprehend: energy density.

Consumers want the best energies, while an intellectual/political elite scheme for and mandate inferior substitutes. And the crusade is further complicated because carbon dioxide (CO2) is the green greenhouse gas, hardly the satanic gas the anti-industrial Left wants to ban.

As energy density drives the world’s daily work, how are the climate crusaders responding? One major complaint concerns the frontal push of China to coal-fired generation.

Jennifer Layke of the World Resources Institute deals with the elephant in the room as follows:

As the world turns attention to the UN climate meetings this week, news from China has captured global headlines: From January 2018 to June 2019, the country added 43 gigawatts (GW) of net new coal power capacity to its existing 1,000 GW coal fleet, while the rest of the world collectively reduced coal capacity by 8 GW.

Dressing the pig, Layke notes that China is also adding 85 GW of solar and wind power generation capacity and has reduced its its carbon intensity (emissions per unit of GDP). This is like a dieter packing on the pounds before losing a few claiming progress. And China wants nothing more than for the US and other competitors to be a little more economically anorexic.

Ms. Layke then jawbones:

Even beyond the global urgency of achieving dramatic greenhouse gas emissions reductions, China must also consider if its current pathway is the most economically efficient and sustainable option for its own longer-term development. The continued expansion of coal in the short-term undercuts its aspiration to be an “ecological civilization” and increases the economic costs of China’s energy economy over the coming decades.

She discusses four major risks: bad economics; greater health and pollution costs; greater climate impacts/risks; and ill-will (“… its reputation as a global clean energy leader could be at risk”).

A Chinese energy official could shrug off these complaints.

  • Coal continues to be the least-cost way to produce electricity in the nation;
  • Clean coal and modernized coal generation improves air quality versus the status quo of direct burning of coal and primitive biomass;
  • Anthropogenic climate change is an exaggerated peril; and
  • Reputation is a paper sword (as shown by the relative commitment burdens under the Paris Accord).

Conclusion

This year’s COP cannot hide the fact that as Trump warned, China would do what was in its self-interest and burn its most plentiful indigenous resource. In his historic June 1, 2017, address, Trump stated:

Not only does [the Paris climate accord] subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals…. I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States … while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.

For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years — 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.

Bravo United States.