Left-wingers in the US have a need to see everything European as superior to American. But it may be a necessity of left-wingers in general see some other culture as preferable to their own. So if you are a European left-winger, who do you look up to? Certainly not the United States! That’s what China is for!
So a few days ago Jennifer Duggan, in her Guardian column said “China’s action on air pollution is slowing its carbon emissions.” Maybe Duggan doesn’t know the difference between first and second derivatives and meant to say “China is reducing its acceleration of carbon emissions,” but even that wouldn’t be true.
Duggan tells us…
The latest Climate Change Performance Index published by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe suggests that China is taking action to clean up its act as it tries to deal with its hazardously high levels of air pollution.
The report states:
“Recent developments indicate a slower growth of CO2 emissions and a decoupling of CO2 growth and GDP growth. Both, its heavy investments in renewable energies and a very critical debate on coal in the highest political circles, resulting from the heavy smog situation in many towns, give hope for a slower emission growth in the future.”
OK, sure, “slower growth of CO2 emissions.” Whatever you say Jennifer.
There is rhetoric – and there is reality. Here is some reality.
BEIJING — China’s coal consumption is expected to hit 4.8 billion metric tons by 2020, the China National Coal Association (CNCA) forecast on Sunday.
CNCA data showed that China’s coal output increased to 3.65 billion tons last year from 2.35 billion tons in 2005, representing an annual increase of 190 million tons. Consumption in 2012 stood at 3.52 billion tons.
So, going from 3.65 billion tons this year to 4.8 billion tons in 2020 represents neither a decrease in usage (first derivative) nor a decrease in the rate of increase (second derivative).
From Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2012 Report from PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, here are the CO2 emissions per region from 1990 to 2012…
By the way, how does Chinese emission acceleration compare to US emissions acceleration?
From the 2014 China International Electric Power & Electric Engineering Technology Exhibition webpage…
China’s five-year plan ending in 2015 envisions adding 520 GW to its current power production, expanding its capacity by 54%. Coal will be the primary source of energy in this increase…Coal-fired plants will contribute 58% of the increase in 2015 to remain the largest contributor to China’s power generation.
From Reuters, October 14th 2012…
Coal, propelled by rising use in China and India, will surpass oil as the key fuel for the global economy by 2020 despite government efforts to reduce carbon emissions, energy consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie said on Monday…
The two Asian powerhouses will need the comparatively cheaper fuel to power their economies, while demand in the United States, Europe and the rest of Asia will hold steady.
“China’s demand for coal will almost single-handedly propel the growth of coal as the dominant global fuel,” said William Durbin, president of global markets at Woodmac…
China – already the top consumer – will drive two-thirds of the growth in global coal use this decade. Half of China’s power generation capacity to be built between 2012 and 2020 will be coal-fired, said Woodmac…
“If you take China and India out of the equation, what is more surprising is that under current regulations, coal demand in the rest of the world will remain at current levels,” Durbin said.
In Southeast Asia, coal will be the biggest winner in the region’s energy mix. Coal will generate nearly half of Southeast Asia’s electricity by 2035, up from less than a third now, the International Energy Agency said in early October…
This will contribute to a doubling of the region’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to 2.3 gigatonnes by 2035, according to the IEA.
The United Stages’ Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption (2012) shows us the breakdown of the fuel types for China’s electricity production for the last two decades. Do you see the difference in trends for “Total Fossil Fuels” and “Other Renewables?” You may need a magnifying glass to see it.
Air Pollution is out of control in China.
There is no doubt that simply breathing in many Chinese cities can be hazardous to your health. But CO2 is not the source of that hazard – it is other gasses and particulates that are destroying people’s lungs. There is also no doubt that China will continue full-bore toward energy-consuming industrialization.
I expect that improvement (if any) in Chinese air quality in the near future will come in the form of particulate removal. But CO2 emissions will grow and grow and grow in China.