Joy unconfined in the Western media yesterday as China announced that, contrary to western critics who say that the country is entirely self-interested and will never do anything substantive on Climate, they would actually make a big move to save the planet. Starting soon, the country announced, it will no longer fund coal-fired power plants…….. in other countries. Predictably enough, people fell for it eagerly. Over at The Journal, some breathless quotes from experts appeared:
Depending on when China’s new coal policy goes into effect, it could shut 47 planned power plants in 20 developing countries that use the fuel that emits the most heat-trapping gases, about the same amount of coal power as from Germany, according to the European climate think-tank E3G.
“It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” said Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University.
“This is the announcement many have been waiting for.”
“Ends all support for coal globally”? Well, not quite.
Ends support for coal everywhere…. Except in China, is more accurate.
After all, this policy will not stop China from building coal fired power plants in its own country. Indeed, it has a mega advantage: China, at a stroke, is denying the cheapest form of electricity for all of its economic rivals, while reserving that form of electricity for itself. In effect, the country is making electricity more expensive for everybody else, while cutting costs in China, and increasing its own carbon emissions. “The announcement everybody has been waiting for”, say the experts, which is proof, if you ever needed, that many “experts” are little more than dunces with degrees.
The announcement, according to analysts, will close down about 47 power plants in 20 developing countries. Developing countries, of course, are China’s biggest competitors: The Chinese economy is massively export and manufacturing reliant. Developing countries tend to compete directly with China for those industries: Mining, manufacturing, goods production, and so on. All of those industries have one thing in common, and that is that they are very electricity intensive. The more expensive electricity is, in a developing country, the less competitive it will be.
And what are the alternatives? Do we expect Indonesia to build massive wind and solar farms? Who is going to pay for those?
The answer, you suspect, will be the investment bank of China. So China will gain further economic hooks on developing countries, while gaining a competitive advantage at home. And all of this geo-political manoeuvring is being greeted with delight in the west, by dunce politicians and experts who want to pretend to their electorates that they are making progress in their fight against Climate Change.
It is, of course, all a nonsense.
Compare and contrast the Chinese announcement, for example, to the American announcement:
That came hours after US President Joe Biden announced a doubling of financial aid to poorer nations so they could switch to cleaner energy and cope with global warming’s worsening impacts.
See the difference? The Western, American commitment actually involves spending more money. The Chinese commitment involves spending less.
This is presented in the media as the two superpowers making similar moves to ameliorate the threat of climate change. It is, actually, anything but.
Of course, if you are a regular listener to the Irish media, you will predictably hear this Chinese move being presented as evidence that even China is now engaged in the global battle on Climate Change. Some will even allow their listeners to form the impression that China is closing coal plants in its own territory, when the opposite is the case. China continues this year to build more coal plants – 61 in total. The new plants they are adding this year will in one year alone outstrip Ireland’s total emissions. Just from those new plants.
We are, very literally, hobbling our own economy to the advantage of China, and making not one single dent in global emissions in the process.
And what’s worse, we’re celebrating it.
This is what a civilisation in total decline looks like.