Friday, December 18, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: China to expand coal power by 10% by 2025


China promises its primary energy use will peak in 2035

In this newsletter:

1) China to expand coal power fleet by 10% by 2025
Bloomberg, 16 December 2020

2) China's primary energy use to peak in 2035 ... promise
Reuters, 17 December 2020
3) Patricia Adams: Western greens are China’s useful idiots
Financial Post, 16 December 2020 
4) Reds and Greens: China’s useful idiots
Richard W. Rahn, The Washington Times, 14 December 2020 

5) Francis Menton: Where is the criticism of China from environmentalists?
Manhattan Contrarian, 14 December 2020

6) Frank Furedi: Narratives of Existential Threats in the Climate and Covid Era
2020 Annual GWPF Lecture, 16 December 2020
7) And finally: Climate activists lose legal battle to stop Heathrow’s third runway
Sky News, 16 December 2020

Full details:

1) China to expand coal power fleet by 10% by 2025
Bloomberg, 16 December 2020

Chinese state-owned utilities are betting on coal’s longevity by building new coal-fired power plants, with their fleets set to expand about 10% by 2025. 

Workers sort coal near a mine in Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province, in November 2015. | AFP-JIJI

The future of coal looks like an ice cream truck parked half a kilometer down a mine shaft in China’s Shanxi province. The yellow and white vehicle is equipped with a 5G router from Huawei Technologies Co. to gather data for the mine’s control center, where technicians monitor high-definition feeds on a screen the size of a two-story house. They’re tracking temperature and methane concentrations while keeping watch over the black lumps zipping along conveyor belts on the way up to waiting trucks.

The data collection would previously have been done by workers down in the pit, but Yangquan Coal Industry Group has managed to eliminate some of those workers and virtualize the least appealing aspect of mine labor. “It will take time, but in the future, miners will wear suits and white shirts,” says Han Weihai, manager of Huawei’s mine projects in Shanxi. “People no longer want to work in a mine, especially young people with college degrees.”

When President Xi Jinping announced in September that China would be carbon-neutral by 2060, he gave coal a four-decade transition period. Or even longer, perhaps, if China’s vast and politically powerful coal industry can find a way to capture the planet-warming pollution generated by burning the fuel, or find other ways around the national policy.

The long transition buys China time to use up its vast coal resources and figure out how to gradually shut down an industry that still employs, directly and indirectly, tens of millions of people. Nowhere shows this high-tech trajectory for China’s coal sector better than the Xinyuan mine.

Next-generation mining jobs there pay as much as 100,000 yuan ($15,000) a year. That’s more than miners of previous generations could have dreamed of making, and for some workers, that’s for sitting behind a desk in a college campus-like facility with a basketball court, pingpong tables and a library. The company organizes outdoor movie nights in the summer and running races in the spring and autumn.

The operation produces about 2.4 million tons of coal a year, less than a tenth of a percent of China’s current demand. That much coal could generate as much as 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide when it’s burned, even as Xinyuan employs emissions-reducing techniques such as using methane instead of coal in its boilers.

Coal’s long exit is part of a two-speed approach proposed by climate scientists at Tsinghua University. Citing the inertia of energy and economic systems, they proposed allowing coal power plants to continue being built until around 2030, when China will be richer and replacement technologies will have advanced. Then the plan calls for the ongoing transition to solar and nuclear to accelerate sharply.

Easing off coal slowly would reduce abrupt shocks that risk bringing unrest, the Communist Party’s biggest nightmare, by dulling the inevitable pain to China’s army of coal workers. “The industry will cut jobs, but it should be slow and gradual,” says Wang Haigang, Xinyuan’s deputy general manager. His mine had 3,000 workers in 2012, and by 2025 plans to have fewer than 1,000. “It may take a long time, but we’re aiming for a future in which no workers need to work underground.”

Keeping coal alive while reducing the number of miners may also solve a further headache for China, where climate policies governing 1.4 billion people are planned in Beijing but have to be implemented by dozens of local governments. The central government has long struggled with the question of how to get local officials to embrace plans for restructuring industries that many of those officials rely on for income.

New mining technology will allow provincial governments to keep earning money that could be used to develop post-coal industries. That’s happening in Jinzhong, the city above the Xinyuan mine, which in 2018 invested 11.5 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) in a medical research center, an industrial park for logistics companies, and other major projects.

Chinese state-owned utilities are betting on coal’s longevity by building new coal-fired power plants, with their fleets set to expand about 10% by 2025. Just last year, China opened the $30 billion Haoji Railway line, a 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) conduit to haul 200 million tons of coal a year directly from central mining basins to energy-hungry regions in the southeast.

But the coal industry and local governments that support it may be too optimistic about the remaining timeline. China needs to stop building coal power plants immediately if it wants to meet the 2060 pledge, according to the Draworld Environment Research Center and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. That goal would require whittling China’s coal fleet down to 680 gigawatts by 2030, a reversal of the 1,300-gigawatt expansion currently planned.

Before long, an uncomfortable truth could push to the forefront: China’s national target of reaching net-zero emissions might not be compatible with another generation of coal.

The climate researchers and the coal industry envision two parallel universes. In one, the use of fossil fuels is drastically reduced and China pivots quickly to renewable energy. In the other, coal is phased out slowly as new technologies are used to reduce their environmental impact.

China’s coal bosses know their regions may struggle to recover if the first scenario comes to pass. In the northeastern city of Fuxin, locals have been extracting coal since the 1700s. When the Communist Party took over in 1949, leader Mao Zedong made Fuxin central to his efforts to modernize the nation. Working the mines was an economic necessity but also a source of patriotic pride.
Full story
2) China's primary energy use to peak in 2035 ... promise
Reuters, 17 December 2020

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) -China’s total primary energy consumption is expected to peak around 2035, at 5.6 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, under Beijing’s recently announced carbon-neutral goal, China National Petroleum Corp’s (CNPC) research arm said on Thursday.
China, the world’s largest energy consumer and biggest emitter of climate warming greenhouse gases, has vowed to bring its total carbon emissions to a peak before 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060.
In its annual long-term energy outlook, the research arm of state energy firm CNPC also forecast China’s oil demand to be capped at 730 million tonnes by around 2025.

Natural gas, a key bridge fuel over the next two decades with a 2.8% per annum demand increase, will peak around 2040 at 550 billion cubic metres, CNPC said.
Consumption of coal, currently accounting for nearly 58% of China’s energy mix, will fall sharply from 2025, to 2.9 billion tonnes in 2035 and to 900 million tonnes in 2050, CNPC said.
“If China maintains the current development model, it will not be a problem to cap its carbon emission before 2030, but will be very difficult to reach carbon neutral before 2060,” said Jiang Xuefeng, vice director at CNPC’s research institute.

“China will have to change its economic and energy structure as soon as possible and as intense as possible.”
Full story
3) Patricia Adams: Western greens are China’s useful idiots
Financial Post, 16 December 2020 

Environmentalists have become the highest-profile cheerleaders for the CCP, helping divert attention from the regime’s worrisome pursuits

For anyone under the illusion that China’s Communist regime was a force for good in the world, the past few years have been a wake-up call. Under President Xi Jinping, China has: incarcerated over a million Uyghur Muslims in “re-education” camps; allowed the coronavirus pandemic to sweep the world; violated its treaty with Britain by ending Hong Kong’s self-rule; and vowed to invade Taiwan.

As a result of these eye-opening actions, among others, public opinion throughout the West has changed dramatically. Where the majority previously saw China favourably as a benign giant, only 15 per cent of Australians, 14 per cent of Swedes, 22 per cent of British, 23 per cent of Canadians, and 22 per cent of Americans continue to view China favourably, according to a Pew survey. Most now recognize that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cheats and threatens to get its way and is hostile to rules-based institutions.

The big exceptions to those who have had their eyes opened are Western environmentalists and their funders who, rather than becoming more cautious about China’s role in the world, continue to lavish its environmental efforts with superlatives such as “herculean” and “momentous.” As recently as 2018, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Barbara Finamore wrote a laudatory book entitled Will China Save the Planet?

The environmental gushing for China is reciprocated by the regime, with Communist Party media organs such as the China Daily dedicating full-page articles to extolling the environmental movement for its positive role in partnering with China.
Western environmental organizations enjoy a privileged position in China. While foreign advocacy organizations of almost all stripes, from human rights groups such as Amnesty International to legal aid groups such as Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, are extremely restricted, if not effectively banned in China, the environmental groups are sponsored by a designated state agency or department of the CCP government, as all acceptable NGOs now must be under a 2017 law governing foreign NGOs.
The sponsor does not play a passive role, as the term implies, however. Rather, it is responsible for monitoring and supervising the environmental group’s work and often works hand-in-glove with it on joint projects.

As part of their supervision, foreign NGOs are required to submit annual plans for their projects and use of funds to their sponsor and, after being approved, must file these plans with the public security organs. Supervision also includes “regulatory talks” and onsite inspections of NGO premises. Failure to comply can result in seizure of assets, detention of staff, and a five-year ban on further work in the country.

The environmental groups’ embrace of China is understandable. They are often lavishly funded. One U.S.-based foundation, Energy Foundation China, has provided over US$330 million to U.S.-registered organizations operating in China. As a result, they can spare no expense pursuing their efforts to rid the planet of fossil fuels. Apart from the power and prestige they enjoy in this role, many doubtless welcome the opportunity to use their research to promote their progressive goals. Given the perceived urgency of their cause — saving the very planet — they can easily justify turning a blind eye to China’s aggression in the South China Sea or human rights abuses on the mainland.

China’s embrace of Western environmentalists is also understandable. To borrow a line attributed to Lenin, the environmentalists are the CCP’s useful idiots. The government not only monitors their activities to ensure their compliance with policy, it also directs the environmentalists’ agenda via its de facto control over their use of funds and even through its staff.
Energy Foundation China, for example, is headed by Ji Zou, a Chinese national with a long career as a senior official in China’s government, including during its climate negotiations for the Paris Agreement. Zou, as a paymaster for the Western environmentalists, decides what projects to fund, thus enabling him to effectively solicit work desired by his former employers in Beijing from the Western environmental organizations, who give the regime their imprimatur of legitimacy.

While critics of China’s many malign activities give it a black eye, the environmentalists’ glowing reports about its environmental leadership paint China in a favourable light and put critics on the defensive. In fact, environmentalists have become the highest-profile cheerleaders for the communists, helping divert attention from the regime’s worrisome pursuits. Chief among these is China’s appropriation of fossil-fuel resources in the South China Sea and elsewhere in pursuit of its goal of displacing the U.S. as the dominant economic and national security superpower by 2050.
As virtually all students of China now appreciate, the West was foolish to trust Communist China to embrace democracy once it had access to Western markets and Western values. The implication is, or should be, clear. As Conservative MP Garnett Genuis says, “A government that is genocidal and totalitarian … cannot be trusted.” Or, as Bonnie Glaser of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies puts it, China “should not be a model for the rest of the world.”

For most of us, China is not a model for the rest of the world. For Western environmentalists, sadly, all too often it is.
Patricia Adams is executive director of Probe International and author of The Red and The Green: China’s Useful Idiots, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
4) Reds and Greens: China’s useful idiots
Richard W. Rahn, The Washington Times, 14 December 2020
Environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, being dupes or worse, sing the praises of the world’s largest polluter.

Two decades ago, most economists — including me — believed that as a country became richer it would likely become more democratic and more protective of basic human rights and liberty. After all, we had seen South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Chile and most of the countries of Eastern Europe go through that progression. 
China was expected to follow the same path. Economic liberties were greatly expanded, and by the 1990s, political power appeared to be increasingly decentralized, and the yoke on essential freedoms seemed to be lightening. But then, the great reversal occurred, particularly after President Xi Jinping gained more and more power.
Freedom of expression, religion, assembly and so forth have all been curtailed.  Hong Kong’s independence has been destroyed, despite the treaty with the U.K. It is estimated that more than a million Turkic Uighur Muslims are in re-education camps. Neighboring countries like Taiwan are increasingly threatened — and China unleashed the COVID-19 virus on the world without explanation as to its source. 
Canadian economist, Patricia Adams, who is an expert on China’s environmental policies, has just written a report, published by The Global Warming Policy Foundation, titled “The Red and the Green: China’s Useful Idiots.” Ms. Adams notes that most foreign advocacy organizations — including human rights groups and even aid organizations — have been extremely restricted or banned. The relatively few still allowed are now effectively controlled by the Communist Party of China — with both their activities and expenditures being overseen by government officials. 
The Chinese have perfected the art of saying one thing while acting in a totally contrary manner. This is, of course, not unique to the Chinese; many American politicians have long done the same thing — as recently exhibited by some in government handing down draconian restrictions because of COVID-19 while ignoring those same restrictions, such as dining in fine restaurants without anyone wearing a mask. Or useful idiots, like Congressman Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, attacking President Trump over non-existent Russian collusion, while he himself apparently was engaged in a close personal relationship with a Chinese spy.

The Chinese leadership mouths all of the slogans of the environmental activists, takes their money and proclaims partnerships, while at the same time greatly expanding the number of coal-fired power plants. Environmental lobbies like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, being dupes or worse, sing the praises of the world’s largest polluter — because of China’s “good intentions” as contrasted with their actions. China now has planned or has under construction more coal-fired power plants than rest of the world combined. At the same time, the U.S. has been greatly reducing its dependence on coal-fired plants, by shutting down many of them.
As would be expected, many in the mainstream media are the last to catch on to reality. They heap praise on the environmental lobbies who are in bed with the Chinese and their American funders, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to name a few. 
As an aside, all of the founders of these foundations were pro-American Republicans. David Packard was even defense secretary at one point. Having had the pleasure of meeting each of them decades ago, I have little doubt that if they were still with us, they would be appalled at how the highly paid managers of these foundations were spending their legacy in support of the biggest human rights abuser on the planet.
Li Zou, a Chinese national, is the CEO and president of Energy Foundation China (which is supported in part by U.S.-based environmental groups). The organization is under control of the Chinese government. Li Zou was a key member of the Chinese negotiation team for the Paris Climate Agreement.

Full post
5) Francis Menton: Where is the criticism of China from environmentalists?
Manhattan Contrarian, 14 December 2020

You undoubtedly are aware that the international environmental movement has almost entirely been taken over and consumed by the climate change scare; and you also cannot help but be aware of the constant drumbeat of attacks by environmentalists on the U.S. government, particularly under President Trump, for its failure to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to “save the planet.”
At the same time, you are a reader of the Manhattan Contrarian. Therefore, you know that China is not only not reducing its own carbon emissions, but instead has well more than tripled them over the past twenty years (during which period U.S. emissions have declined modestly by about 15%); and today China is in the midst of a new round of massive expansion of its fossil fuel energy generation capacity, particularly with respect to the most carbon-intensive fuel, coal.

As quoted by me in a post just a couple of days ago, from the Global Energy Monitor, June 2020:

"China currently has 249.6 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity under development (97.8 GW under construction and 151.8 GW in planning), a 21% increase over end-2019 (205.9 GW). The amount of capacity under development (249.6 GW) is larger than the [entire] coal fleets of the United States (246.2 GW) or India (229.0 GW)."

So then surely the major environmental organizations must be coming down hard on China? Wrong. Indeed, many of them are full of praise for China for its “climate leadership.” Sure, China gives plenty of empty lip service to Western climate orthodoxy; but could these environmentalists really be so dense as to be fooled by that, even as information as to China’s soaring emissions and hundreds of new coal plants is readily available (if not widely publicized by the CCP)?
If you want some insight as to what is going on, a good place to start is a new report out from the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Patricia Adams titled “The Red and Green: China’s Useful Idiots.” (Full disclosure: I am a member of the board — recently elected chairman! — of the GWPF’s American affiliate.). Ms. Adams documents how Beijing is able to use permission to operate in China as a lever to suppress any and all criticism of the regime:
"Following a 2017 law governing foreign NGOs, most foreign advocacy organisations . . . were either extremely restricted or effectively banned. Prior to the NGO law, some 7000 foreign organisations operated in China.  Today that number is 553. . . . Fewer than 4% of the 553 organizations that remain are what a Westerner would consider an environmental group, and all do Beijing’s bidding.
As with other foreign organisations still permitted to operate in the country, green groups must be formally sponsored by a designated state agency or government department. However, despite the name, the sponsor is not passive, but instead is responsible for monitoring and supervising the environmental groups’ work, sometimes even working hand-in-glove with them on joint projects. Supervision also includes ‘regulatory talks’ and inspections of premises. Foreign NGOs are required to submit annual plans for projects and use of funds to their sponsor for approval. Foreign organisations must also agree to close supervision by the Ministry of Public Security.  Failure to comply with the provisions of the NGO law can result in seizure of assets, detention of staff, and a ban on future efforts to work in the country for five years, all without any recourse to appeal..."
Full post & comments
6) Frank Furedi: Narratives of Existential Threats in the Climate and Covid Era
2020 Annual GWPF Lecture, 16 December 2020

Click on image to watch the full lecture

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and social commentator. He is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Since the late 1990s, Frank has been widely cited about his views on why Western societies find it so difficult to engage with risk and uncertainty. He has published widely about controversies relating to issues such as health, parenting children, food and new technology. In his recent book How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century (2019), Furedi seeks to explain two interrelated themes: why has fear acquired such a morally commanding status in society today and how has the way we fear today changed from the way that it was experienced in the past?
7) And finally: Climate activists lose legal battle to stop Heathrow’s third runway
Sky News, 16 December 2020

The Supreme Court overturns a previous Court of Appeal ruling in a case brought by Friends of the Earth and others.

Climate activists have lost a long-running legal battle to stop a third runway at Heathrow.

The Supreme Court has overturned a previous Court of Appeal ruling in a case brought by Friends of the Earth and others against Heathrow Airport.

The court was asked to consider if the government’s failure to take into account the UK’s climate commitments rendered the planned third runway unlawful.

Tim Crosland, of the campaign group Plan B, said the original decision by former transport secretary Chris Grayling to support the expansion made a “mockery” of the government’s commitment to show international leadership in the face of a climate emergency. […]

The government and developers have stepped back from the legal process, saying they do not support a further appeal of the case.

Lawyers for Heathrow Airport Ltd told the court that the firm, which owns and operates the airport in west London, still wishes to go ahead with the expansion project.

It is the latest in 17 years of wrangling over whether or not to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Prior to becoming prime minister, Boris Johnson had vowed to “lie down in front of bulldozers” to stop it being built.

The decision is seen as hugely significant because it could influence other legal challenges on policies that aren’t seen as being compatible with tackling climate change.

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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