July 27, 2008
PETER HUBER LOOKS behind the carbon curtain:
To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.
On the far side of the environmental curtain China already mines and burns more coal than any other country. Together, China and India control more than one-fifth of the planet's vast coal reserves. Dar predicts--very plausibly, in my view--that the two countries may fire up a new coal plant as often as once a week for the next 25 years, adding about twice as much coal-fired generating capacity as the U.S. has today. Persian Gulf states are planning significant coal imports, because coal generates much cheaper electricity than oil or gas.
In developing countries the political survival of the people at the top depends on providing affordable fuel for kitchens, farms, fertilizer plants, steel mills, highways and power plants. Oil and coal are the only practical fuels at hand.
Read the whole thing.