According to a report issued by the research and consulting firm Rhodium Group, China emits more greenhouse gasses than the rest of the developed world combined.
China is now responsible for 27 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, far outpacing the U.S., which finished in second place with 11 percent.
President Xi Jinping has been conducting a global charm offensive on climate, offering to match emission reductions of China’s major competitors.
“We must be committed to multilateralism,” Xi said during brief remarks at the summit. “China looks forward to working with the international community, including the United States, to jointly advance global environmental governance.”
Go ahead, Uncle Sam. China will be right behind you.
Xi said China would control coal-fired generation projects and limit increases in coal consumption over the next five years, with reductions taking place in the five years following that.
However, Chinese officials have also emphasized that economic growth, which is still largely dependent on coal power, remains a priority. And the nation is still increasing construction of coal-fired power plants.
For instance, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China together funded $474 million worth of coal projects outside China in 2020 alone. And coal accounted for more than half of China’s domestic energy generation last year, according to Li Gao, director general of China’s ecology ministry’s department of climate change.
Xi has promised the world that China would reach peak emissions by 2030 — a date no one expects them to make — to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.
China has been saying to the West since the 1990s, “You first” in reducing greenhouse gasses. In truth, if they tried to cut emissions now, they’d be slitting their own throats. The fact is, China will not be able to grow by double digits every year if they try to halt coal plant construction. They have no oil and have not embraced nuclear power in any large way. And their pollution problems are getting much worse.
During the Beijing Olympics, China was forced to virtually shut down a lot of major industries in and around the city because Olympic officials warned against having the choking smog interfere with athletic contests.
So China has figured it has to play ball on the climate — to a certain extent, anyway.
Slashing carbon emissions is one of the few areas on which the U.S. and China have agreed to cooperate.
Days before the summit, U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry traveled to Shanghai to meet with officials on climate change, after which the two countries released a joint statement vowing to tackle the climate crisis together with “seriousness and urgency.”
The Communists in China care only as much about the climate and carbon emissions as is necessary to advance their political goals. Otherwise, it’s window dressing. When they fail to reach their goal of peaking emissions by 2030, what’s the rest of the world going to do? Put them in climate prison? China knows that the PR points they score today matter more than any missed deadlines five or 30 years from now.
Until a way can be found to make sure that China is running on the same playing field as the rest of the developed world, the U.S. should refuse to cooperate in damaging its own economy.