Is China leading the way on climate mitigation?

Kevin Marshall’s articles at are always worth a careful read. This one struck me as particularly important as it demonstrates how the West’s cognitive dissonance over climate change is spreading to every area of politics, including the vastly perilous area of international relations between the nuclear powers. If we can be so wrong about China’s climate policies, what else will we get wrong? – Geoff


At the Conversation is an article on China’s lead in renewable energy.
China wants to dominate the world’s green energy markets – here’s why is by University of Sheffield academic Chris G Pope. The article starts:-

If there is to be an effective response to climate change, it will probably emanate from China. The geopolitical motivations are clear. Renewable energy is increasingly inevitable, and those that dominate the markets in these new technologies will likely have the most influence over the development patterns of the future. As other major powers find themselves in climate denial or atrophy, China may well boost its power and status by becoming the global energy leader of tomorrow.

The effective response ought to be put into the global context. At the end of October UNEP produced its Emissions Gap Report 2017, just in time for the COP23 meeting in Bonn. The key figure on…

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  1. If we can be so wrong about China’s climate policies, what else will we get wrong?

    This is part of why I call climate a gateway drug for a mediocre elite. It’s really best that they are not on reality-bending drugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Richard Drake, your metaphor makes a lot of sense! But when one considers that anti-depressants with known mindvalteringvside effects are so widely prescribed…..


  3. Could someone link to this article in comments at the Conversation article linked at the top? I see Paul Matthews has already commented there. My comment introducing Kevin’s article: “If we can be so wrong about China’s climate policies, what else will we get wrong?” was just a vague intuition. I see right under the Conversation article on China’s energy policy is a recommendation that the West attack North Korea, right away, no messing.


  4. Geoff, I put two comments there. The one you can see
    It’s quite remarkable that this article doesn’t even mention that China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, and has about half of the world’s coal-fired power.

    I suppose it illustrates the political bias of the people the conversation selects to write it’s articles. China is praised while the US is attacked.

    There’s a nice bit of goalpost-moving here: “Take the US for example,
    historically the largest carbon emitter”
    and another that had a link to Kevin’s blog, which seems to have disappeared, perhaps because of the link. It might be in moderation.

    There’s a detailed critique of this article by Kevin Marshall

    “China now has 922 GW of coal-fired power stations operating (47% of
    the global total) with a further 153 GW “Announced + Pre-permit +
    Permitted” (28%) and 147 GW under construction (56%).”

    It’s good to see Robin is on the case, with one of his very thorough and polite comments on his specialist subject.


  5. China is short of fossil fuels, and has to import.

    The EU and USA created a market for unreliables such as wind and solar, that China was happy to supply, copying the best of EU & USA research and development. Prices have come down with mass production, and China can now benefit, if China wants to, from their industry, paid for by EU & USA.

    Fuel for vehicles is what China needs, to be self sufficient. If they can manufacture a battery car, in China, aimed at urban use, they should be able to undercut the prices of EU and Japanese makers. Tesla won’t like it either.


  6. “Is China leading the way on climate mitigation?”

    Judge for yourself.

    But new data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.

    These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries.


  7. Climate extremists don’t want clean air, they want good public relations.
    The Chinese have figured this out and are providing lots of good pr for the climate community to consume.
    Long term, the so-called “renewables” market is going to collapse, due to its ridiculously bad financial performance and the non-impact of the landscape destroying wind farms have on climate.
    China seems to know this and is simply silencing western climate obsessed communities.


  8. To emphasize and enhance the message of my article, which Geoff has kindly reposted here.
    The key to understanding parts of country’s climate mitigation policies is in the context of the global climate mitigation policy aspirations. This was clearly laid out in figure E5.2 of the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2017 published last October just before COP 23 in Bonn.


    From this chart, global emissions need to fall in the next 12 years by at least 20% to be within the policy target.  Whatever one personally thinks of the derivation of these policy objectives, this is the principle basis on which to evaluate a single country’s climate mitigation policies. In this context, China policies fail, despite it leading the world in the production of wind turbines, solar panels, and lithium for batteries. Even with all the renewables policies – and Chris Pope concentrates on equipment supply rather than prospective emissions reductions – China’s emissions are forecast to be higher in 2030 than today. The idea that China is in any way leading the way on climate change does not hold water.
    The fundamental mistake Chris Pope makes in the article is to start from a particular perspective, and only look at the facts in support of that perspective. By ignoring the role of coal in the energy mix, he fails to appreciate that “combatting climate change“, or even to gain the plaudits for being perceived to be “combatting climate change“, is far from China’s primary motive. The country is not being hypocritical in its policies, The Government is putting “China First”, through promoting economic growth and increasing living standards.

    Overall, when evaluating policy a key question to ask is whether there are sufficient means to achieve the objective.
    If the policy aim is to reduce global GHG emissions by at least 20% by 2030, if China – with 25% of the global total emissions – keeps emissions the same as today through to 2030 it implies that all the remaining countries must reduce their emissions by over 27%. But this is to pick on China as the both the most populous country and the biggest emitter of GHGs. Based on realistic forecasts, the group of countries that 25 years ago would have been termed “Third World“, now account for two-thirds of global emissions, over 80% of the global population and around 100% of emissions growth since 1990. Even with policy proposals fully implemented, they will collectively continue increasing their emissions through to 2030, more than offsetting the proposed reductions in the EU, USA (even without the Paris Accord) and other countries. Using the graph above, one-third of global emissions is about 17 GtCO2e. The emissions gap (assuming all policy proposals are fully implemented) is 13.5 to 19 GtCO2e. It does not require even a GCSE in maths to forecast that global targets will not be achieved.


  9. Due to some errant HTML, the reproduction of figure E5.2 from the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2017 disappeared.


  10. Len says at 10.47pm

    Does the fall in coal use in recent years change the perspective at all?

    Look at your graph Len, and compare with UNEP’s emissions gap graph. Both are scaled in GtCO2. In China, the fall in emissions from coal is at most 0.5. These were offset by increases in CO2 emissions from oil, gas and cement. The emissions gap is 13.5 to 19.
    Climate Action Tracker, who rates China’s emissions policies highly insufficient, states that even if the coal abatement trend were to continue

    Total GHG emissions are likely to continue increasing until 2030, as China has not yet implemented sufficient policies addressing non-CO2 GHG emissions (CH4, N2O, HFCs etc.).

    But coal abatement is likely to be a blip, unless the construction of new coal-fired power stations is abandoned.

    I believe that when estimates are available for 2017, emissions from coal will have recovered.

    So the short answer to Len, based on the evidence is “NO“.


  11. I’ve written several times that one shouldn’t take China’s reporting on emissions or coal consumption at face value. It’s not that they’re trying (well, not only that they’re trying) to hide the sad truth. The way emitters are incentivized guarantees (as they admit) that they under-report both.

    They are burning more coal and emitting more CO2 than they report. A lot more.


  12. Tom,
    You hit nail on head: China is playing the climate community like a cheap musical instrument.
    But granting that China is emitting much more CO2 than reported, what difference is that making to the climate?


  13. “But coal abatement is likely to be a blip, unless the construction of new coal-fired power stations is abandoned.”

    Possibly so. But the graph I posted shows coal consumption falling in the final 3 years, while at the same time the table you referred to shows 143GW of new generation came online in those 3 years. Odd don’t you think? Maybe capacity factors are dropping – after all it is the amount of electricity those stations generate that matters not the boilerplate capacity. How much more will capacity factors drop and/or coal use drop as those 147GW in construction come online?

    I’m not saying that all is rosy, just that the numbers you are quoting perhaps don’t tell the whole story.


  14. Hiya hunter–hey, happy New Year!

    I would say that the Keeling curve has been going up quite a bit without a lot of obvious explanation–everybody’s saying they’re doing a fine job on controlling emissions, right? But concentrations are jumping up by more than we would expect, given such a fine job…

    I think unreported Chinese emissions are a part of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Len at 2.47am
    You look at a tiny blip in one element for three years, yet avoid the bigger picture. A power station takes a few years to build, so the 143 GW coming in line in 2014-2016 was to meet expected demand. Those plans were only likely based on vague estimates, whilst the Chinese economy has suffered an unexpected economic slowdown.

    Your figure is from the following pdf.

    Click to access PDFs-for-GCPT-July-2017-New-by-Year.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  16. LEN MARTINEZ (17 Jan 18 at 2:47 am)
    Your graph shows CO2 emissions, not coal consumption. The difference is easily explained by the closure of older polluting plant near town centres and the opening or more efficient planet emitting less CO2.

    The question of whether China is doing its bit in the global struggle for climate justice and a stable temperature for ever misses the point. China is doing what they have always said they’d do – develop their economy to raise their population out of poverty. And that means development in the rest or Asia and Africa too, to provide food and the infrastructure to export it, which means coal fired power for the third world.

    Whether you see this as a wonderful move to eliminate poverty in the developing world, or a cynical ploy to weaken the influence of the west, is a matter of political taste. The important point that arises from Kevin’s article is that the reality of development in two thirds of the world is being hidden from the public by a haze of absurd green propaganda. While China brings industry and infrastructure to two thirds of the planet, we applaud the efforts of Oxfam, Bank of America and Richard Branson to put solar panels on the roofs of huts in African villages, so they can fire up their mobiles and keep paying the instalments – to Oxfam, Bank of America and Richard Branson. Guess whose efforts are going to benefit Africa the most.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The fact that the price of steaming coal, ex Austalia has doubled in the last 18 months indicate that there is plenty of demand. I suspect in a few years’ time, the emissions data for China will be revised upwards. Sure they have closed plants, but they were small old CHP ones. They are still building the large supercritical coal plants to feed their energy growth. What that stops growing, they will stop building coal stations. Until then, they will stay with coal as it is the cheapest and most reliable method of generating power where they want it.


  18. Len Martinez, I am sure that China’s coal consumption figures are as reliable as Climate Science’s temperature records.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Geoff, it does show CO2 but coal use dropped several% in each of those years too. Don’t know about 2017.


  20. What a surprise… Len focuses on a small part of Geoff’s comment and ignores the rest. On with the motley, Len. What does your Konsensus have to say about coal power stations in Africa? Quick! Get on message else there is the Lubianka cell and a few grams of lead. Perhaps these days it is Mikey Mann’s front-room


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