Category: China

China energy cutbacks slow manufacturing

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

An energy crunch in China has led to some factory closures, industries and their suppliers to cut back production and is threating to impact the global supply chain.

How record rain and officials’ mistakes led to drownings on a subway

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The deluge in the city of Zhengzhou revealed how China’s years of go-go construction had left its cities vulnerable to climate change.

China to ramp up recycling, incineration in new plastic pollution push

Read the full story from Reuters.

China will boost its plastic recycling and incineration capabilities, promote “green” plastic products and take action against the overuse of plastic in packaging and agriculture, it said in a 2021-2025 “five-year plan” published on Wednesday.

China to ramp up recycling, incineration in new plastic pollution push

Read the full story from Reuters.

China will boost its plastic recycling and incineration capabilities, promote “green” plastic products and take action against the overuse of plastic in packaging and agriculture, it said in a 2021-2025 “five-year plan” published on Wednesday.

As China boomed, it didn’t take climate change into account. Now it must.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

China’s breathtaking economic growth created cities ill-equipped to face extreme weather. Last week’s dramatic floods showed that much will have to change.

In an odd twist, cleaner air in China may mean a warmer Earth

Read the full story in Wired.

Coal plant upgrades led to a dramatic reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions. But those particles also help reflect solar heat away from the planet.

Air pollution data in five Chinese cities: Local vs. U.S. monitoring stations

Read the full story from PLOS.

When air quality in China is poor, locally reported air pollution measurements diverge from U.S. embassy-reported measurements more than would be expected by random chance, finds an analysis of air pollution data from five large Chinese cities.

China finances most coal plants built today – it’s a climate problem and why US-China talks are essential

China is closing old coal plants but still building new ones – at home and abroad. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

by Jeff Nesbit (Yale University)

As nations gear up for a critical year for climate negotiations, it’s become increasingly clear that success may hinge on one question: How soon will China end its reliance on coal and its financing of overseas coal-fired power plants?

China represents more than a quarter of all global carbon emissions, and it has spent tens of billions of dollars to build coal power facilities in 152 countries over the past decade through its Belt and Road Initiative. Roughly 70% of the coal plants built globally now rely on Chinese funding.

That’s a problem for the climate. The International Energy Agency warns in a new analysis that if the world hopes to reach net zero emissions by 2050, widely seen as necessary to meet the Paris climate agreement goals, there should be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects or in new coal-fired power plants that don’t capture their carbon emissions. Shortly after that report came out, the G7 group of leading industrialized democracies called for an end to international financing of unabated coal projects on May 21, 2021 (see the graph).

U.S. presidential special climate envoy John Kerry was asked pointedly about China’s progress on climate change when he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in mid-May.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had called climate change a “crisis” during a world leaders’ summit on climate change a few weeks earlier, but Kerry said talks between the two countries grew “very heated” over China’s continued insistence on financing coal-fired power plants around the world.

While he stopped short of saying it explicitly, Kerry made the U.S. position clear: China’s climate pledges won’t be credible or legitimate until it stops overseas coal financing. “We’ve got five more months left to get them to embrace something we hope you will view as legitimate,” he said. “We’re not there yet.”

China and the United States together represent 43% of global carbon dioxide emissions. They worked together to make the Paris Agreement happen. They will have to push each other to make it a success.

Closing some coal at home, but building overseas

China has been the world’s largest carbon emitter for 20 years. It’s been responsible for 28% of the world’s carbon emissions for the past decade. That number hasn’t budged, despite rapid growth of China’s renewable energy and clean tech industries.

One of the central reasons is coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal accounted for 58% of China’s total primary energy consumption as recently as 2019 – even as coal use was collapsing elsewhere. China currently operates 1,058 coal plants, roughly half of all coal plants worldwide. To meet even its modest climate goals, it will have to shut down more than half of them, according to a recent analysis by TransitionZero, a U.S.-based thinktank.

But will it?

China has incentive to cut emissions. With air pollution choking some of its largest cities, it has shuttered dozens of old coal facilities in recent years, and has subsidized renewable energy projects, both domestically and globally.

But despite this progress, China is still building new coal plants.

It has also made a strategic decision to export its industrial and manufacturing might across the globe under its Belt and Road Initiative. Japan and South Korea, which traditionally financed overseas coal projects, have started to abandon them, and China sees opportunity. Nearly all of the 60 new coal plants planned across Eurasia, South America and Africa –70 gigawatts of coal power in all – are financed almost exclusively by Chinese banks.

Construction workers in hard hats pass a sign urging them to work safely
Pakistani workers walk at the construction site of a Chinese-backed coal-fired power plant in Pakistan in 2018. It’s part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images

It’s clear that China is juggling energy security and economic growth concerns. That’s why analysts were surprised when Xi announced in late 2020 that China would be carbon neutral by 2060, a decade earlier than planned, and make sure its carbon emissions peaked before 2030.

Such an effort would require huge investments in renewable energy, electric cars and technology like carbon capture and storage. None of this will be easy for China. The country has made little progress on reducing emissions, according to recent reports from organizations including the International Energy Agency.

US-China talks

Seasoned climate negotiators are watching what China does with coal today – not just the pledges it makes that are 10 or even 20 years in the future.

The U.S.-China climate relationship was central to reaching the Paris climate agreement, Todd Stern, former U.S. climate negotiator, has said. Failure to revive such engagement “would have grave national security consequences in the United States and around the world.”

Shortly before the recent world leaders’ summit on climate change, the United States and China agreed to work together again on the climate issue, and U.S. President Joe Biden announced ambitious new climate plans

But talk isn’t action. The world will expect both to commit to measurable actions ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November. Countries are expected to strengthen their pledges this year – hopefully enough to keep global warming in check.

I worked in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and have been involved in climate change issues for several years. It’s clear that if China and the U.S. don’t lead the way, the world won’t get on track to meet the Paris climate goals.

China has reason to cooperate on climate change

China is already planning for a world in which fundamental natural resources like water and food grow scarce because of climate change. For example, when China saw a looming threat to its ability to grow enough soybeans, due in part to climate change, it went from importing virtually no soybeans to importing more than half the soybeans sold on Earth. I outline the reasons for this tectonic shift in my book “This is the Way the World Ends.”

A boat pulls a large section of solar panels into place among others on the large lake.
China has built a thriving clean energy industry as the leading maker of solar panels, like these on a lake that was once a coal mine. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China also sees economic opportunity in solving the climate crisis. It is mining raw materials essential to battery storage solutions at the heart of a global renewable energy industry; building cheap electric vehicles as fast as it can for domestic and foreign consumers; and aggressively subsidizing solar panel manufacturing and exporting those panels worldwide.

China lost the tech revolution race that defined the global economy of the 20th century. It does not intend to lose the renewable energy and clean tech revolution that will define the 21st.

But even that imperative has not kept China from financing the world’s reliance on coal-fired power. Which is why climate negotiators hope China does more than make promises for the future. Ending coal financing overseas would be a serious first step in that direction.

Jeff Nesbit, Research Affiliate, Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, Yale University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

China’s greenhouse gas emissions exceeded the developed world for the first time in 2019

Read the full story from the Rhodium Group.

Each year Rhodium Group provides the most up-to-date global and country-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions estimates through the ClimateDeck (a partnership with Breakthrough Energy). In addition to our preliminary US and China GHG estimates for 2020, Rhodium provides annual estimates of economy-wide emissions—including all six Kyoto gases—for over 190 countries from 1990-2019.

Using our newly updated global emissions data through 2019, we estimate that in 2019, for the first time since national greenhouse gas emissions have been measured, China’s annual emissions exceeded those of all developed countries combined. China’s emissions were less than a quarter of developed country emissions in 1990, but over the past three decades have more than tripled, reaching over 14 gigatons of CO2-equivalent in 2019. 

See also news coverage of the report

How China’s solar industry is set up to be the new green OPEC

Read the full column in Forbes.

That’s right. China is preparing to be the world’s Green OPEC. Who’s ready to challenge them on that?

As the West kicks fossil fuels to the curb, it is turning to only two sources of energy to generate electricity: wind and solar. Wind is still a European business, but that will change. Solar used to be a European business. It used to also be an American one. Now it’s a Chinese industry. Of the top 10 solar companies in the world, 8 are Chinese. None are European (Norway’s REC Group used to be there, but it’s now owned by ChemChina). One is American — First Solar of Ohio. They also manufacture in Asia, though their technology is different than most so a lot of their supply chain is local.

“One of the biggest mistakes the West has done on green policies to cut CO2 emissions and trying to reduce dependence on oil and gas producing nations is that the transition to renewable energy puts the West at the mercy of China,” says David Zaikin, an energy industry consultant and founder of Key Elements Group in London.

The Biden Administration wants to reduce fossil fuel use and the President has said on his campaign trail that he was aiming to have upwards of 500 million solar panels installed nationwide. Where will they be made?

%d bloggers like this: