Chuck DeVore is the vice president of national initiatives at the Foundation. He writes about the economy and how energy, tax and regulatory policies influence general prosperity, and he frequently appears on Fox News. He also guides the Foundation’s growing national work in criminal justice reform. He authored the book The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America.
Greenhouse gas negotiations in Madrid adjourned after two weeks without an agreement, leaving delegates to jet back home in failure.
In response, an executive with the Environmental Defense Fund admonished nations to go their own way on carbon markets, setting up rules for “international emissions trading.”
A U.N. report released last month said greenhouse gas emissions must be cut 7.6% annually to keep planetary warming under 2 degrees centigrade—a remarkably precise estimate based on climate models that have heretofore had a casual association with reality. It won’t happen.
Out in the real world, inhabited by political leaders who want to stay in power and people who want to feed their families or even improve their standard of living, emissions keep rising as China, India and the continent of Africa continue to develop. Greenhouse gas emissions hit a new high in 2019.
In the U.S., the state of California and climate activists celebrated the closure of the Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona, one of America’s largest coal-fired power plants, and the Kayenta mine that fed it with 8 million tons of coal per year. Almost 1,000 well-paying jobs were lost in the heart of the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations.
In the People’s Republic of China, coal production increased 2.6% in the first half of the year, with coal mining capacity hitting 3.53 billion tonnes in 2018, equivalent to 3,891 million short tons, or a little more than five times the coal mined in America. The centrally planned Chinese economy expects to add 290 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants in the coming years, peaking at 1,230 to 1,350 gigawatts of power.
Today, China’s coal-fired electrical generating capacity stands at about 1,000 gigawatts and climbing, more than four times America’s 236 gigawatts (which is declining). In fact, China is planning to add more coal power (290 gigawatts) than the U.S. currently produces (236 gigawatts).
From January to June of 2019, Chinese regulators approved the addition of 141 million tonnes of new coal production. In 2018 they only approved 25 million tonnes. By comparison, Arizona’s recently closed Kayenta mine produced 7.3 million metric tons (tonnes) annually.
With all this coal coming online, it’s not surprising to learn that the Chinese Communist Party just recommended that people buy air purifiers and close their windows during smog days to reduce harmful levels of indoor air pollution. Some 55 cities across China are struggling with poor air quality. The government is also recommending that each school classroom have two air purifiers. But, outside of their limited use in Beijing, there is no plan to fund the acquisition of air purifiers for classrooms.
Since 2005, China has been the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. However, if one only read the China Daily, an English-language paper run by the Chinese Communist Party that targets and audience of foreigners, diplomats and tourists, one might get the impression that China is terribly concerned about global warming. Several times a month, the China Daily runs an editorial cartoon bemoaning climate change while often linking it to Western capitalism.
Of course, if the U.S., Western Europe, and the other advanced economies around the world increased their energy costs by forgoing the use of affordable, reliable and clean (with properly maintained modern pollution control systems) natural gas, coal and nuclear power, then China would realize a greater cost advantage in its ongoing competition with the rest of the developed world.
It may be useful at this juncture to point out that “journalism”—at least insofar as it is practiced in the People’s Republic of China—is completely in service of the Chinese Communist Party. Rather than reporting just the facts, China’s state propagandists—they’re not journalists—are expected to arm their minds with Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping’s “Ideology of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era.”