Science

China's Old Climate Promises Are 'New' Again

The Glasgow Declaration's empty platitudes confirm that China will not be hectored by the U.S. into making any significant changes to its climate policies.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres hailed the Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, which the U.S. and China issued at the U.N.'s 26th climate conference (COP26) in November, as "an important step in the right direction." But the declaration includes very little in the way of new promises from China.

Under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, countries report their plans to address man-made climate change as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Just before COP26, China submitted its supposedly updated NDC, which said it "aims to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030."

China set the same goal in a 2014 Joint Announcement on Climate Change, while also promising that it would "work to increase ambition over time." China's updated 2021 NDC did increase its 2030 target for non–fossil fuels, from 20 percent to 25 percent of primary energy consumption.

At COP26, the U.S. and the European Union launched the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut emissions of that potent greenhouse gas by 30 percent as of 2030. In the Glasgow Declaration, China said it intends to develop a plan to "achieve a significant effect on methane emissions control and reductions in the 2020s." That basically restated China's NDC pledge that "measures will be taken to effectively curb methane emissions from coal, oil and gas mining." Notably, China did not join the Global Methane Pledge.

In the Glasgow Declaration, China declared that it "will phase down coal consumption during the 15th Five Year Plan and make best efforts to accelerate this work." This is the same promise President Xi Jinping made at the Leaders Summit on Climate convened by President Joe Biden in April 2021. It means Chinese coal consumption will not begin to decline until sometime after 2026.

China, along with several other like-minded countries, refused to endorse the Glasgow Climate Pact until the phrase "phasing-out of coal" was replaced with "the phasedown of unabated coal power." Unabated means emissions from coal-fired power generation are not captured and sequestered somehow (e.g., pumped underground or absorbed by new forest growth). Phasedown implies that emissions will be reduced but not eliminated. Its NDC makes clear that China has no intention of phasing out coal anytime soon.

The Glasgow Declaration's empty platitudes confirm that China will not be hectored by the U.S. into making any significant changes to its climate policies.

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  1. China, along with several other like-minded countries, refused to endorse the Glasgow Climate Pact until the phrase "phasing-out of coal" was replaced with "the phasedown of unabated coal power." Unabated means emissions from coal-fired power generation are not captured and sequestered somehow (e.g., pumped underground or absorbed by new forest growth). Phasedown implies that emissions will be reduced but not eliminated.

    Actually, they have a point when it comes to the "unabated" part. If coal can be burned but the emissions don't contribute to climate change because they are sequestered, then, no harm no foul, right? Of course there are other hazards associated with coal, but the climate change one should be taken care of given a sequestration strategy.

    1. Theoretically yes, realistically, the sequester by forest part makes it a paper fiction. The way the rules work on this, you can pay a country some money to not cut down a forest they weren't going to cut down anyway, and claim that as equestrian carbon.

      1. and claim that as equestrian carbon

        Correct. It's all horse shit.

    2. but the climate change one should be taken care of given a sequestration strategy.

      Jeffy, why would you assume the CCP would ever tell the truth about anything? Wet markets, clean coal, the Chairman's giant cock. You seem to believe it all.

  2. If you are not personally carbon neutral, throwing stones in uour glass house may be dangerous to your narrative.

  3. China will not be hectored by the U.S.

    Gee, what a shock.

    1. They do own the president.

  4. The pivot to attacking methane should be viewed by everyone very skeptically. For years, climate alarmists insisted that the problem was C02, and C02 alone. The fixation on methane only came when it was clear that the west had largely limited its CO2 emissions. Emissions growth now comes almost completely from developing countries, and there really isn't much more that the US can do about that unless we want to tell people to stop rising out of poverty.

    Let's be clear- US Methane Emissions have been trending down since at least the 90s as the US shifts away from coal. The call for us to restrict methane is coming from three places- 1) Climate NGOs cannot bitch about our C02 as much any more, so they need a new boogeyman for fund raising, 2) Activists of various stripes see this as an effective way to attack meat production and natural gas production (despite being effective forms of CO2 abatement), 3) The developing countries like China want us distracted from their CO2 emissions growth so they are amplifying complaints about methane.

    1. If green house gas emissions are increasing globally, that's a problem for the globe as a whole, regardless of your individual carbon foot print or that of your nation's. Mother nature isn't about to give Americans a free pass for their efforts to deal with climate change if the rest of the world continues increasingly emitting green house gases.

      1. No shit. Which is why it is stupid for us to focus on methane when the real problem is growth in C02 emissions from the developing world.

        1. Methane is also a green house gas and emissions of methane and CO2 have been increasing.

          " the real problem is growth in C02 emissions from the developing world."

          I disagree. The problem is no one has figured out how to develop the developing world to the level of the US, for example, without burning loads of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have so many things going for them. The infrastructure is there, high energy density, relatively cheap, mature technology etc, Switching to an alternative would be extremely expensive and waiting for developing countries to foot the bill is not a practical solution, especially because climate change is a global phenomenon and the wealthier nations are going to be affected regardless of their own carbon policies.

          1. "Methane is also a green house gas and emissions of methane and CO2 have been increasing."

            No they haven't. Methane emissions in the US have been decreasing since 1990.

            Why do you constantly do this? You come in these comments and just spout contrarian shit that isn't even factually based in reality.

            1. "No they haven't. Methane emissions in the US have been decreasing since 1990."

              It's the global trends that matter in the end. I've tried to make that clear for you, You're hoping that Mother Nature is going to give the US brownie points for her efforts in reducing green house gas emissions. It's a false hope and impossibly naive. Nature is a bitch.

              The problem is trying to deal with a global problem with narrow minded, short sighted and corrupt nation states. Catastrophe is almost inevitable.

      2. You really do belong to China don’t you? America and the west have been reducing carbon emissions for years. You should be ashamed.

        1. I like China. It's a shitty government but the people are OK once you know them. Americans reducing carbon emissions is fine but it's only one country. Climate change will affect the entire globe and America's efforts won't win her any special favors. The notion that Americans can strike some deal with Mother Nature for exemption is not going to happen.

    2. The pivot to attacking methane should be viewed by everyone very skeptically.

      In fairness it's a pivot back to methane. Methane was the main thing being looked at back in the '90s. It was when Al Gore hijacked the movement for his class action suit that suddenly you got cancelled if you mentioned methane and you were only allowed to talk about CO2.

      I remember the moment it shifted because Stella McCartney did a spread in some big magazine round about 2003 about the importance of going vegan to fight climate change and she was shouted down by the CO2 people and branded a science denier, after which she disappeared from the public eye for a number of years.

      A huge difference between CO2 and methane is that CO2 gets sequestered in plant life, while methane does not. Another one is that there's no money or power to be had going after methane.

      1. "In fairness it's a pivot back to methane"

        No. Go read the initial IPCC reports from 95. They are entirely about C02. The Kyoto Treaty was solely based on CO2, not methane.

        "Another one is that there's no money or power to be had going after methane."

        Methane control is a broadside against fracking and natural gas. Handling and disposing of it from wells is expensive and difficult. This is why when you search for "methane greenhouse gas" you see ads from BP, talking about legislating it. Because they believe attacking natural gas is beneficial for their renewable portfolio- same as when they were attacking CO2.

        1. Go read the initial IPCC reports from 95. They are entirely about C02.

          Yes - I read them at the time. And took note at the time that they seemed to rather deliberately focus attention on CO2 and pointedly ignored methane, which at the time was the focus of the actual environmentalist movement.

          Methane control is a broadside against fracking and natural gas.

          Now that we're talking about it again, yes.

          Because the "elites" don't actually care whether or not you eat meat - there's nothing in that for them.

    3. The pivot to attacking methane should be viewed by everyone very skeptically. For years, climate alarmists insisted that the problem was C02, and C02 alone. The fixation on methane only came when it was clear that the west had largely limited its CO2 emissions.

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  5. If you ban coal, they'll just burn Uyghurs for heat.

  6. Everyone needs to understand how much China is central to the climate debates. Heading out of the 80's, China had pollution problems that were so bad, out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 19 were in China. They still have problems, but in the 90's, they had cities that were becoming unlivable.

    The granddaddy of climate agreements, the Kyoto Protocol was not much more than a naked grab by China of pollution technology rights that they desperately needed and didn't want to pay for. We eventually got a president that rightfully told them to fuck off. I now assume that every new agreement since then is just another push by China to shame the West into providing free shit.

    Climate debate is all a false front. The externalities of extreme industrial pollution and the brutality of cheap labor markets eventually have to be paid. The 3rd world nations and the 1st world nations are lying about the real externalities to continue the grift for as long as possible. This is why China's actions never match their words.

    1. "the Kyoto Protocol was not much more than a naked grab by China of pollution technology rights that they desperately needed and didn't want to pay for."

      Not just China, but the entire developing world. Kyoto was especially egregious because it essentially required the US to either reduce its energy usage, or pay the developing world for "credits". Europe was in the middle of converting the former soviet block into natural gas burners, so they knew they would reduce carbon. Russia was given extra credit for their forests (that the US was denied). Only the US had no clear path to carbon reductions, so in essence Kyoto was a giant wealth transfer from the US to the developing world.

      Even worse, these wealth transfers were basically paying the developing world not to develop. "Oh you are going to build a factory and emit carbon? We'll pay your government 100 Million not to build the factory, so that we can keep emitting."

      It was only the miracle of fracking that allowed the US to replace coal with its own nat gas reserves- reducing our carbon footprint. And that is why suddenly we are talking about Methane instead of CO2.

  7. After the end of the cold war all the 3rd world countries that had been gaming the US and the Soviet Union for cash and free stuff to stay on their side needed a new reason for us to continue and they found it with Kyoto. That in my opinion was the driving force behind the agreement.

  8. It's pretty sick when the USA is asking China to be more Commie...

    All you Commie's in the USA should just move to Cuba and stop conquering and consuming everything you touch.

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