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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Springtime for China's Coal Industry: Is China Too Big to Swerve Enough to Avoid the Climatic Iceberg Ahead?

Even as Chinese government officials “called on the United States to recognize established science and to work with other countries to reduce dependence on dirty fuels like coal and oil,” China was “scrambling to mine and burn more coal.”[1] Notably, short-terms concerns were dominant. “A lack of stockpiles and worries about electricity blackouts” were “spurring Chinese officials to reverse curbs that [had] once helped reduce coal production.”[2] By December, 2016, coal mines were reopening, and with them coal miners were returning to work. The renewed activity would of course make it more difficult for China and the world to meet CO2 emissions targets, “as Chinese coal is the world’s largest single source of carbon emissions from human activities.”[3] In fact, China’s use of coal results in more emissions “than all the oil, coal, and gas consumed in the United States.”[4] The implications for being able to contain the global rise in temperature within 2 degrees C are not bright from this real-life scenario. It is important, therefore, to grasp the underlying dynamics behind China’s plight.
The full essay is at "Springtime for China's Coal".

1. Keith Bradsher, “Despite Climate Vow, China Scrambles for Coal,” The New York Times, November 30, 2016.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.