China and India have never had any intention of reducing their dependence on coal, as they had both made abundantly clear in documents each country submitted before the Paris agreement, where China said it planned to double its CO2 emissions by 2030, and India that it would treble them
The BBC and The Guardian recently reported on new satellite pictures revealing that China, as easily the world’s largest emitter of CO2, is now busily building so many new coal-fired stations that they will add 259 gigawatts or 25 per cent to its coal-fired output, more than that of all US coal-fired power stations combined.
This “approaching tsunami” of new coal plants is “wildly out of line” with the 2015 Paris climate agreement, reports The Guardian, quoting a report from the research group Coalswarm. But in no way should this be a surprise. It is just what China announced it intended to do at the time of Paris, when it said it would be doubling its CO2 emissions by 2030. Official Chinese figures confirm that the country is well on target, having increased its emissions by 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 alone.
What makes this much odder, however, is that The Guardian itself was already reporting as long ago as 2010 that China planned a massive expansion of its coal-fired power generation. Odder still is that The Guardian also revealed that the UN was planning to pour “billions of pounds of public money” in subsidies to China and India, to enable them to build 20 “heavily-polluting coal plants”.
This was to be done under the UN’s “Clean Development Mechanism” scheme, designed to subsidise “developing” countries like China and India to rely only on “sustainable development” as their economies caught up with the West.
The idea was that these countries would be given “carbon credits”, which could then be sold to organisations in the West, to allow them to “offset” their own CO2 emissions. To earn these credits, the developing countries had to show that on specific projects they were curbing their emissions: as when they replaced a “dirty” old coal plant with a new one using less polluting “clean coal” technology.
By 2010 this system had thrown up so many scandals, including wholesale fraud, that it came under heavy fire, and in some more blatant respects it was modified. But the UN ruled that China and India could still earn carbon credits for closing “dirty” power plants to replace them with “more efficient” new ones.
In fact the real message was that China and India never had any intention of reducing their dependence on coal, as they had both made abundantly clear in documents each country submitted before the Paris agreement, where China said it planned to double its CO2 emissions by 2030, and India that it would treble them.
This was precisely the reason given by President Trump in 2017 for pulling the US out of the “Paris accord”, which he regarded as no more than a cynical charade. But The Guardianand the BBC never mentioned any of this. If they had followed the story properly, they would have no reason for now expressing shock at what China and India are up to because they would have known it all along.