China Burns More Coal: Climate Promises Broken or Just Deferred?

Predictions of Chinese peak coal consumption appear to have been premature


Huang Shipeng/FEATURECHINA/Newscom

At the end of the U.N. COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech earlier this month, Greenpeace China policy advisor Li Shuo fatuously declared: "We have seen China continue with its climate actions and support for the Paris Agreement because it is in its self-interest to do so. China´s drop in coal consumption is driving down global emissions and tackling air pollution at home. We can expect further action as China reaps the benefits of its climate policies." Also at Marrakech, Chinese climate change negotiators reportedly chided President-elect Donald Trump for once tweeting that global warming was a hoax devised by the Chinese. A headline in The Guardian declared that "China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump triumph."

The Marrakech conference ended just 12 days ago. Today the New York Times is running a front page article, "Despite Climate Change Vow, China Pushes to Dig More Coal." As the paper of record explains:

A lack of stockpiles and worries about electricity blackouts are spurring Chinese officials to reverse curbs that once helped reduce coal production. Mines are reopening. Miners are being lured back with fatter paychecks.

China's response to coal scarcity shows how hard it will be to wean the country off coal. That makes it harder for China and the world to meet emissions targets, as Chinese coal is the world's largest single source of carbon emissions from human activities….

"I get a kick out of people in the West who think China is decarbonizing, because I see no sign of it whatsoever," said Brock Silvers, a Shanghai banker who has previously served on the boards of two Chinese coal companies.

Of course, back in 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a "joint announcement on climate change" in which the Chinese government promised to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. So that means there's plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

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  1. Well, not to worry. California is enacting cow fart control, so that will make up for the shortfall.

    1. How will this affect cheese production? I saw on TV that good cheese comes from happy cows, and happy cows come from California. Does this mean I have to go back to eating that stuff from Wisconsin?

  2. Tsk tsk. Really gets my goat when authoritarian propaganda machines say things that are dishonest.

    1. It’s bull.

  3. Back in my single days, I’m pretty sure I tried that “I’m Brock Silvers, Shanghai banker” line a few times.

    1. “Brick Major, blimp pilot. Can I buy you ladies a drink?”

  4. By their actions, you’d think that the Chinese were totally unserious about climate change. It’s as if everything they said was bullshit spouted merely to convince gullible idiots abroad to hobble their own nation’s economy.

    But the Chinese wouldn’t lie would they? I mean, not to the Guardian.

    1. Next you’ll tell me they don’t really have a 100% literacy rate.

    2. BP: To be fair, China does have largest solar power electricity generation industry in the world, although they have recently decided to scale back installations because their grid can’t handle the intermittency of solar and wind.

      1. Hence their ramping up of reactor construction. Besides, its not like the solar could do much through all the smog.

        1. Serrations are for pussies. Cool name though, did you recently change it?

          1. Actually, no I’ve spent so much time lurking and laughing at the hilarity of this place I thought I ought to contribute. That said they’ll cut rope faster it was sort of a test, I was curious to see whether the first comments would be “serrations” or “Chainsword.” I figured around here it would be about 50/50.

      2. Ron – I’m sure they have a vast solar infrastructure. I’m also sure Prince Potemkin spent some money to make his villages looked good before Tsarina Catherine came through.

        They have more heavy industry than any other nation in the world, along with 600 million people connected to their grid (and more to come). That’s a lot of juice. Even if they started the solar array with the real intent of replacing coal, it has become obvious to them that it can’t be done with current technology. They can, however, still use the panels as a cudgel on perennially guilted Westerners who’ll sacrifice their nation for a pat on the head from anyone in the 3rd World.

      3. They also have Ghost Cities they’ve built from whole cloth, where no one has ever lived and no one ever will. It’s almost as if the Chinese are desperate for more ‘Infrastructure’ projects to keep the proles too busy to notice how fucked they all are.

        My pet theory is that someone said that America thinks they have the biggest solar installations, we’ll make one better and not even use it. With their money.

        Then, I picture about a ten minute montage covering the month long bout of laughter nationwide.

        Not that the intermittency issue isn’t very real, but I just think it’s their cover for why they aren’t using the facility. My ‘real’ guess is that it was partially or wholly constructed with foreign dollars, probably using vastly substandard materials, and they then pocketed the difference. Who’s going to audit them and say otherwise? Alternatively, they’re just so Communist that the entire process was woefully inept and mismanaged from the ground up, and there’s a massive flaw somewhere like transportation from the generator.

  5. n which the Chinese government promised to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. So that means there’s plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

    I am sure they are going to get right on that. The people who built the three gorges dam really care about the environment. And the people who ran over people with tanks at Tienanmen Square would never lie about this. Nope. They care and are not seeing this as a way to dupe stupid westerners into regulating themselves into poverty.

  6. Well, they are undertaking the largest program of reactor building since Eisenhower gave his “Atoms for Peace” speech… but not so much to help the climate as to clean the air and secure the IP rights.

    1. Clean air is the driving force behind any “climate” goals. That has been the case in most countries.

      Your screen name needs a trigger warning. Nice work.

      1. Too true. Once enough people have trouble being able to breathe or drink they’ll set about fixing that problem. Coal is great, just not when its the only thing you’ve got to burn. Also thanks, glad its working as intended. I’ve had at least one guy say “nice handle” to which I replied “thanks its bone” so I think I’ll be keeping it.

      2. Clean air is the driving force behind any “climate” goals. That has been the case in most countries.

        True this.

        Even in the US, whenever some study looks at cost-benefit analysis, the health benefits due to removing particulate matter from the air swamps by an order of magnitude any benefits from reducing CO2 emission. Yet the result is always sold as climate-friendly.

        People who think climate change is the most pressing threat to humanity are sociopaths.

  7. This is an article i think everyone should read

    it basically points out that Chinese emissions data is 100% bullshit;

    and even more significantly – that almost every model of climate change / and these bullshit ‘international agreements about emissions limits’ relies entirely on this 100% bullshit data source.

    My favorite detail…

    The last time Beijing produced an official figure was in 2005, when it said its emissions stood at “approximately” 7.47 billion tonnes. And while it has promised that emissions will peak by 2030 at the latest, experts say the statistical uncertainty is so great that forecasts on what that peak means can vary from 11 to 20 billion tonnes a year.

    That margin is greater than the entire annual carbon footprint of Europe.


    It just exposes the foundation of sand that the entire “Global Climate Change” conversation is based on.

    I mean, there’s maybe a half-dozen *other* similar details that one could point to which would also expose the conceptual fraud… but this one alone is so enormous that it can save you the effort of even talking about the ‘science’ of the issue.

    The fact is that no one has any clue what china is pumping out. and any ‘cuts’ are simply adjustments to their existing laughable process of number-faking.

    And you still have people who think “Electric cars” are supposed to matter.

    1. “…the foundation of sand that the entire “Global Climate Change” conversation is based on.”

      Climate change. Foundations of sand.

      Unfalsifiable assertions FTW.

      Science denier has become like Racist, a badge of honor.

  8. Bonus link: the Chinese city where 90%+ of the rare earth metals used in solar panels and wind turbines is mined.

    1. Sorry – the above is about Baoding. I meant to link to this story about Baotou.

      1. BigDong?

      2. It’s about a 1-square mile tailings pond. Which is not something you’d like to have next to your house, but pretty small in the grand scheme of things. I’m pretty sure we have stuff of a comparable size in tar sands projects.

        Also the “3-times background radiation” is fucking hilarious. A pile of banana peels probably has more inherent radiation.

  9. “…A headline in The Guardian declared that “China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump triumph.”…”

    Yep, that’s The Guardian: All the lies fit to print!

  10. Random Chinese Guy on the Street: Hey, if you give me 1000 bucks right now, I promise that every day for the next year I’ll put 3 dollars in your mailbox

    Davos Attendee: Sure. Sounds like a good deal. (hands over money)

    (Chinese guy runs away with money)

    Davos Attendee: Does he even know where I live?

  11. “Predictions of Chinese peak coal consumption appear to have been premature”

    It’s too bad we don’t have any to sell them.

  12. Hey dudes! Where da pah-tay at ??

  13. …the Chinese government promised to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. So that means there’s plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

    Pure comedy gold.

  14. there’s plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

    But little incentive.

  15. Somebody actually believed a promise from a government???

    1. Well, it’s not like it’s the US government, with all of its checks and balances and federalism and branches and Constitution and all that, where it may be hard to push something difficult through at all, much less in a lasting way.

      It’s the Chinese government! And as Thomas Friedman tells us, they can Get Things Done.

  16. So that means there’s plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

    Tongue squarely placed in cheek.

    1. China’s doing the same thing we’ve been doing for a few decades:

      1. Promise large-ish reductions in the long-term future.
      2. One of:
      A. Get lucky and achieve goals.
      B. Replace near-term unachievable goals with even more ambitious goals in the further future.

      That’s also how we run pension funds.

      1. That’s also how we run pension funds.

        With a worse ratio of option A to option B…

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