"I’m way overdue to post excerpts here from an extraordinary recent China Dialogue with Zou Ji, the deputy director of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy. (China Dialogue is a fascinating independent dual-language blog...).
The interview is blunt and crystal clear in laying out the demographic and economic realities that will, for many years to come, slow any shift from Chinese dependence on coal. Zou Ji has a remarkable resume for someone now working inside the Chinese establishment, having worked previously as the China director for the World Resources Institute....
ZJ: "The international community has some misconceptions, such as believing China is now a developed nation. This could mean China ends up taking on more global responsibility than its capabilities allow. We’ve held the Olympics and sent astronauts into space, but you can’t look at the richest parts of Beijing and Shanghai and assume the whole country is like that. The welfare of hundreds of millions of rural residents isn’t yet assured. Healthcare, unemployment benefits, pensions, all of these are weak. Many Chinese people have no safe drinking water, and our per-capita GDP ranks ninety-something globally. Overall, China is still a developing nation.
Another important disadvantage is the make-up of our natural resources.
Brazil gets 90% of its energy from hydropower. It is fortunate enough to have those resources. If China could replace coal with oil as a primary source of energy, emissions would drop by one third. If we could replace coal with natural gas, they would drop by two thirds. But China’s main resource is coal. We only have limited amounts of other sources of energy, and obviously a reliance on imports is unrealistic. Moving to clean energy is a massive challenge.
Meanwhile, we still need to urbanize and educate hundreds of millions of rural residents. Quality of life needs to be improved. There can be no disagreement about that.
Domestically, there are two dangerous trends we need to steer clear of. One is sticking too rigidly to our traditional way of doing things. The other is changing too quickly, trying to create a low-carbon economy in a Great Leap Forward manner and misjudging China’s circumstances and technological ability.
China can only do its best as it is able. Moving too quickly will actually hold back low-carbon development....
In the current world economic system, it is difficult for a developing nation to cut emissions. China currently accounts for 70% of new emissions each year, and the pressure and expectations it faces are increasing. But China is still on the left-hand side of the Kuznets curve, while the EU is on the right-hand side, beyond the peak. The type of emissions of the two different stages aren’t the same, they can’t be compared. China’s high emissions come mainly from industry and are driven by investment. The EU’s emissions come mostly from building and transportation, and are due to consumption.
At their peak, France’s per-capita emissions were 19 tonnes, while Germany’s approached 15 tonnes. We shouldn’t forget that. You can’t ask China to get to 7 tonnes and level off or fall. It goes against the basic laws of developmental economics. Japan and Australia have per-capita GDPs of US$40,000, but their emissions still haven’t peaked. China’s per-capita GDP is US$5-6,000. The curve is still going up.
China can peak at a lower level than the US and EU did historically. But even a per-capita peak of 10 tonnes means total emissions of 13 billion tonnes. That’s more than I can imagine. It’s a huge challenge for China…."...via Tom Nelson
"Well, the actuality strikes and shaken the branches.
Mr. Revkin has been trying to point this out for years now.....China will develop, will provide electrical power and modern transportation to its burgeoning billion plus people
and so will India and SE Asia and Malaysia and Africa.
No amount of politicking, pressure group pressuring, or whining on blogs is going to change that nearly overwhelming fact. They will dam rivers, burn coal, drill for gas and oil (and then burn that) to achieve that.
The part that is nearly overwhelming is that no matter what the US and Europe do, it will have very little effect on CO2 levels. China currently has a population of one billion more than the US. The developing world has a population of > 5 billion people -- Africa and Asia combined -- not counting underdeveloped South and Central America. That's five times that of the Developed World (US and European Union 27) These countries will ramp up energy production and will do it with coal, oil, hydro, plus a little bit of wind and solar (if someone else pays for it).
So if you think the CO2 concentration ramped up when the US and Europe developed, you've got a real surprise coming while the Rest of the World catches up.
Those who feel this will threaten the very existence of mankind and all of nature had better start supporting a "space-race scale energy quest" --- and had better start right now. Be nice if we could offer cheap fusion plants or clean safe mini-nuclear."
"Andy, I suggest that you interview a dissident or Chinese exile. Their government is totalitarian, and nearly as corrupt as ours."
2/14/13, "Benjamin Zycher response to Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change," Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute
Unregulated coal mining emissions flow to the US from Northern Mexico coal mines run by the Zetas:
Coal mining is "more lucrative for Zetas than selling drugs."
1/4/13, "Mexican Cartels Go Underground—to Mine Coal," TheFix.com
==============================11/17/12, "Mexican druglords strike gold in coal," AFP via Gloucester City News