By Ed Ireland — September 21, 2023
“According to Reuters, China is justified in burning massive amounts of coal because it uses some of that electricity to charge EVs, enabling it to reduce its crude oil imports, which is even more evil than coal. The world, in other words, can continue to ignore the fact that China and the other countries in Asia emit more CO2 than the rest of the world combined.”
We are constantly told that burning coal must be eliminated because it contributes to climate change. Coal is so bad that the EPA has proposed rules that will force the closure of all U.S. coal-burning power plants, as well as natural gas generators by 2040, if not sooner. U.S. power grids are showing the effects of the early retirement of coal power generation plants, meanwhile, and grid operators are demanding that the EPA stop their proposed regulations. But the war on coal is unabated.
Apparently, the war on coal plants does not apply to China. According to an article this week in Reuters by Clyde Russell, “China’s Huge Coal Plant Building Has Weird Climate Logic,” China’s CO2 emissions from its massive coal-burning power plant program pose little problem on the road to solving “climate change.”
His article begins by explaining that China is indeed the world’s largest coal-burning country in the world and is building more plants quickly:
China is building two-thirds of the coal-fired electricity generation capacity currently under construction globally, and this may not be as disastrous for the climate as it sounds (emphasis added).
The world’s largest producer and importer of coal has 136.24 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired generation under construction, according to data released in July by the Global Energy Monitor.
This represents 66.7% of the global total of 204.15 GW, and China is streets ahead of second-placed India, with 31.6 GW being built and third-placed Indonesia with 14.5 GW.
These three countries represent 89% of the coal-fired plants currently under construction, and it’s not a coincidence that all of them have large populations, growing energy demand and vast domestic coal reserves.
China’s under-construction coal generation is about 12% of its existing capacity, and adding more coal-fired power would seem incompatible with the stated goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.
So the energy elephant in the CO2 mitigation room is to be papered over? Given a pass with COP28 coming up? We can ignore everything we’ve ever heard or read about “planet-destroying CO2 emissions from coal plants” because:
The large coal-fired construction programme can be seen in the wider context of China’s rapid shift to electric vehicles (EVs) and away from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and trucks.
This is a strange detour. China’s massive fleet of coal-burning power plants are saved by coal-based EVs, what Amory Lovins called emission elsewhere vehicles (EEVs)? The article doesn’t mention that China has been unsuccessful in forcing its population to purchase EVs, so massive numbers have been left to rot in fields.
Never mind this detail because this all leads to the not-so-obvious conclusion that China’s use of coal-fired electricity to charge their EVs will enable them to reduce their imports of crude oil, which is much worse for the environment than coal. Continuing the article’s “weird logic”:
While it would obviously be better for the environment for China to stop building coal-fired power plants and instead accelerate the deployment of renewables, there is some logic to the current policy.
Using mainly domestic coal and some relatively low-cost imports will allow China to lower crude oil imports over time, increase the penetration of EVs and have a lower emissions profile than if it carried on with a predominantly ICE vehicle fleet.
There you have it. According to Reuters, China is justified in burning massive amounts of coal because it uses some of that electricity to charge EVs, enabling it to reduce its crude oil imports, which is even more evil than coal. The world, in other words, can continue to ignore the fact that China and the other countries in Asia emit more CO2 than the rest of the world combined:
The fact that China’s carbon dioxide emissions are being ignored while U.S. energy policies are destroying the reliability of its power grids and undermining its energy independence is telling. This suggests that the war on fossil fuels is a dangerous diversion from the actual agendas, which could include eliminating the dominance of the United States, establishing global governance, population control, and more.
Ed Ireland, adjunct professor at TCU’s Neeley School of Business, received his B.S. from Midwestern State University and Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. This analysis was originally posted at Thoughts About Energy and Economics.