A carbon accounting conundrum


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Is Australian coal still “naughty”, if the coal is burned in China?

Aussie PM Tony Abbott has infuriated greens in the last few days, by approving a gigantic new coal mine in the state of New South Wales.

According to Breitbart;

Last week a contentious A$1.2bn open cut coal mining project was given the thumbs up by the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, allowing for 268 million tonnes of coal to be extracted until 2046. The mine is in the state of New South Wales. The project, the third begun under Mr Abbott in less than 12 months, was approved after rigorous environmental testing and consultation with the local community.

Yes, there were Green Party opponents who called the mine ‘disastrous’ and ‘economically insane’, but in the end the mine went ahead because of the national interest.

Mr Abbott’s stated belief is that fossil fuel not renewable energy holds the key to a viable future – not just in Australia but across the developing world. In November last year he said:

“For the foreseeable future coal is the foundation of prosperity. Coal is the foundation of the way we live because you can’t have a modern lifestyle without energy, you can’t have a modern economy without energy.

“So if we are serious about raising people’s living standards in less developed countries, if we are serious about maintaining and improving living standards in countries like Australia, we have to be serious about making the best use of coal.”

Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/07/17/green-fury-aussie-pm-tony-abbott-approves-massive-new-coal-mine/

However, Breitbart also cites an interesting statistic, that 73% of Australia’s coal is exported, presumably mostly to China.

President Obama has effectively granted China a “free pass” until the 2030s, to emit as much CO2 as they want. So there is no problem with China digging up vast quantities of their own coal, and burning it in Chinese power plants.

But why does the coal China burns have to actually be mined in China? If a given quantity of coal is going to be burned anyway, thanks to China’s free pass, doesn’t it make sense for as much of that coal as possible to be mined in the most ecologically friendly fashion possible, in tightly regulated Australian mines?

If Australia mines the coal, but the coal is burned in China, who carries the green “guilt”? Is the burning of the Australian coal in China sanctioned by China’s free pass, or does the coal count against Australia, even though the coal is being burned in China? Or does Australia have to accept shame just for the amount of coal in transit, which is instantly transmogrified into “good coal” when it crosses the Chinese border? Or does Australia only have to feel green guilt, if it can be demonstrated that the Australian contribution has increased the total quantity of coal which China is burning, over and above what they would have burned were they fully dependent on domestic supplies? In this case, would Australia only have to feel green “guilt”, for this hypothetical surplus?

If it is agreed that Australia has created such a surplus, can Australia’s green “guilt” be assuaged by scaling back Australian production, to eliminate the Australian sourced surplus, and filling the resulting demand gap with coal sourced from China? So any consequent overall surplus is purely a decision of China, and therefore sanctioned by the Chinese CO2 free pass?

If this is unacceptable, could some Australian coal mines be temporarily redesignated as Chinese embassies, and therefore become technically part of the People’s Republic of China? Australia of course would be entitled to charge a “rent” for land occupied by China embassies – said rent to be approximately the income the Australian government would have made, by taxing Australian coal producers who would otherwise have mined coal from the redesignated Chinese embassy land?

In any case, shouldn’t greens be encouraging Australia to help China minimise their ecological footprint, by encouraging Australia to export as much coal as possible, to minimise the amount of coal sourced from less regulated Chinese facilities?

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July 18, 2015 10:41 pm

The watermelons are full of conundrums, ironies, and hypocrisies of “do as I say, as I do.”
Drill baby, drill. Dig baby, dig.

Ted G
Reply to  joelobryan
July 18, 2015 10:46 pm

Burn baby burn.

Reply to  Ted G
July 18, 2015 11:06 pm

that too.

Reply to  Ted G
July 19, 2015 11:19 am

“Satisfaction came in a chain reaction
I couldn’t get enough, so I had to self-destruct
The heat was on, rising to the top
Everybody going strong, and that is when my spark got hot”

Chris in Hervey Bay
Reply to  joelobryan
July 19, 2015 3:21 am

Until the greens run the country, they’ll just have to cop it sweet !

Reply to  joelobryan
July 19, 2015 4:41 am

on this one..NO! NO ! NO! not because I am the teeniest bit worried re burning coal at all
BUT this mine is in an area of very good soil and is some of our rather rare good ag area in Aus.
meanwhile we have other already good mines being run at part time or mothballed due to falling prices and LACK of Demand..
Peabody is flogging off his investments as an example.
Vic brown coals been redflagged as no use..so mines there are now idle or underworked too..may as well mine it n crush it and make soil improver from it FFS!
far more efficient that faffing round burning wood for
Biochar” that costs hugely to buy and uses energy to make.
idiot green tech crap idea;-/
hell for that..go back to burning stubble n plough it back in, knocks weed seeds and sweetens the soil and golly..NO profit to mr monmongrel chem co and mates.
the smoke from burning paddocks also seemed to help bring the rains, as bushfires do.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 19, 2015 7:41 am

Australia exports high grade coals, keeps low grade coals at home. Shrinking domestic comsumption makes some mines uneconomical, but doesn’t impact others.

Ian Wilson
Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 19, 2015 9:58 am

ozspeaksup does not know what he is talking about. I live less than ten kilometers from the Shenhua mine site and the mine is NOT in area of good farming soil.
The Liverpool plains are a large flat area of black (basaltic volcanic) clay soils which must be preserved at all costs. However, the Shenhua open cut mine is in the adjacent hilly country which have very poor (sandy) soil. The mine is located on the South Western side of Watermark mountain and it is mostly over three kilometers from the good soils on the edge of the Liverpool plains i.e. there are two large hills between the mine site and plains (Black Mountain and then Watermark mountain).
The Shenhua mining proposal has gone through three separate environmental studies which have looked in great detail at its effects on the environment. All three studies have agreed that it will have very little effect on the adjacent farmland and the aquifers that support it. The nearest aquifers are located 400 to 500 metres below the ground while the mine itself will never exceed 40 metres in depth. The Gunnedah Formation aquifer is the one used by local farmers to irrigate their crops. Extensive mapping and geological surveys indicates that there is a 1 kilometer buffer between the edge of the disturbance zone for the mine site and the edge of the Gunnedah Formation. Continuous ground water monitoring will be in place to ensure that this buffer will be maintained.

Ian Wilson
Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 19, 2015 10:13 am

To drive a point home – the water that seeps into the aquifers on the Liverpool plains from the runoff from surrounding hill country has been seeping through the embedded coal seams for millions of years. How do I know this? If live in a village between the hill country and the Liverpool plains and the locally sourced underground water is so infused with sulfurous compounds that you can literally light the water emerging from the taps (faucets) in our village. This has been always been the case. Indeed they have been mining coal in the hill country a few kilometres west of the Liverpool plains for almost 100 years and no farmers have protested [at least up until now].

Chris Schoneveld
Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 21, 2015 9:49 am

Could you please respond to Ian Wilson’s very informative post? Or is your silence a sign of you conceding grudgingly?

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 21, 2015 6:52 pm

Here’s a useful diagram to get an idea of the Australian Energy situation:
It only gets reviewed every couple of years, but it doesn’t change significantly over time. Australia exports far more energy than it consumes. We also export far more energy embodied in other goods (e.g. aluminium) than we import. I started a PhD on “Australia’s Invisible Energy Trade” but got borerd with it. The preliminary findings were quite clear cut.
The OP doesn’t mention the end user of the final products, whoever that might be. The person who buys a stainless steel product in Walmart that was made in China with Aussie coal and iron ore… who caused that chain of events to occur in teh first place? The final demand for the stainless steel product. Apporitoning blame to any particular step in the value adding chain is folly.

July 18, 2015 10:41 pm

I think the previous post may give us the AGW answer. Issue indulgences for coal burning. Who cares if it works as long as apostles like Al Gore and Mike Man can build their castles and fleets.

July 18, 2015 10:42 pm

err , “… not as I do.”

Reply to  joelobryan
July 19, 2015 12:21 am

I think he meant “do as I say I do”.

July 18, 2015 10:47 pm

Every damn bit of that coal will eventually be dug up and burned.
Try and tell a man that his freezing family can’t burn the accessible coal beneath their feet, and I will show you a man who leads a war against those fascists.

Reply to  joelobryan
July 19, 2015 11:23 am

I agree. It is all going to be dug up and burned, and the earth will be like a big Swiss cheese wheel in the end.
Why fight the inevitable?

Reply to  joelobryan
July 19, 2015 2:59 pm

There is nothing more dangerous on this planet than a human being when the only choice you leave them requires either they kill you or they let their children die.

July 18, 2015 10:53 pm

Greens won’t be happy until we’re all back in skins and living in caves.

Reply to  Streetcred
July 18, 2015 11:13 pm

Being happy is not on any Green’s agenda. They have no idea what the word means. They would have made perfect minions under Stalin or Mao – and still fume that they missed that chance.

Reply to  Streetcred
July 19, 2015 3:08 am

When you say “all back in caves…” I think you may have meant “the worthy survivors of the cull of useless eaters back in caves…”

Reply to  Streetcred
July 19, 2015 11:51 am

No skins! Aren’t you keeping up? Animals have a right to live as much as we! Humans need to return to the trees!

Reply to  fossilsage
July 19, 2015 10:07 pm

What do you mean? Don’t the trees have rights?

Reply to  fossilsage
July 22, 2015 1:16 am

LoL … yes, our own skins 😉

Louis Hunt
July 18, 2015 10:57 pm

Australia could say they were introducing China to a western custom called Santa Claus. With over 1.3 billion people, there has to be some naughty children in China. How many stockings would 268 million tons of coal fill anyway?

Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 18, 2015 11:02 pm

umm.. and just where do you think most Christmas presents are made ? 😉

Mike McMillan
Reply to  AndyG55
July 19, 2015 2:30 am
Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 19, 2015 4:39 am

So, first things first. China is not the main export market for Australian coal. Most of it goes to Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries.
Secondly, the project will mine 260 million tonnes, but then over 100 million tonnes will be returned straight back into the ground as coal reject, following the processing of the raw coal to create a marketable product. This mine will have a yield of about 60%.
Very little coal is imported into China. Until a few years ago, China was a net exporter of coal. Right now, they have vastly reduced imports from the recent peak, which represented only a very small proportion of their total consumption.
China has no shortage of coal. In fact, if it weren’t for the Mongols, China was on the verge of its own industrial revolution about 500 years before the European one, so advanced was their steel-making.

Reply to  AP
July 19, 2015 5:10 am

AP, I was about to say this, but you said it first, and better & briefer.

Reply to  AP
July 19, 2015 11:37 am

Curious the pause at the brink; they took the road more travelled, and that has made all the difference.

Climate Pete
Reply to  AP
July 19, 2015 7:02 pm

It is interesting that until recently, Australian coal exports were running at very similar levels to Chinese coal imports. However, the Chinese were not importing all this coal directly from Australia.

Fred of Greenslopes
Reply to  AP
July 19, 2015 9:24 pm

Perhaps the Greens could be renamed ‘Latter Day Mongols’.

July 18, 2015 10:59 pm

The real and manifold benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment far outweigh any negative effects. Increased extraction of Australian coal means more lives lifted from poverty in China and India, which is a very positive thing. Australian Prime Minister is a staunch supporter of coal and for all the good it has brought the world.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Mervyn
July 19, 2015 4:32 am

It is of course better so tee the coal being mined under Australian environmental jurisdiction and occupational safety rules than to leave that to the chinese, whose standards are poor to non-existent. It’s a win-win-situation, I suppose.

July 18, 2015 10:59 pm

Actually, a lot of our coal also goes to Japan, Korea and India, depending on type of coal.
A fair chunk of our coking coal (steel making) does go to China and Japan.
but the thermal coal (power stations) is more widely spread.
Obviously it is not a static market and I haven’t kept up with it the last few years.

Reply to  AndyG55
July 18, 2015 11:01 pm

The reserve bank does some good statistics on where stuff goes, but finding the most recent graphs of destinations is not easy.

July 18, 2015 11:05 pm

I should also mention that Australia is also a supplier of uranium. 🙂

James Francisco
Reply to  AndyG55
July 19, 2015 11:25 am

I read somewhere that Australia has 2/3 of the known uranium reserves. Someday when the anti nuke nuts are cold and hungry Australia will be the energy kings.

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  James Francisco
July 19, 2015 2:56 pm

A little less than 1/3 but what is interesting is the low production relative to reserves. Is Australia having political trouble exporting? Is it government policy to hold on to their uranium reserves?

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  James Francisco
July 19, 2015 2:56 pm
Reply to  AndyG55
July 19, 2015 3:36 pm

And lead … think bullets

July 18, 2015 11:06 pm

Well the mine, the subject of this post, is being developed by a Chinese company, so its already ‘Chinese coal’ as its removed from the open cut pit.

July 18, 2015 11:08 pm

On the other hand, we have heaps of coal and iron ore, and if we could get the coal and the iron ore to the same place easily, we could become the world supplier of steel !

July 18, 2015 11:48 pm

“Aussie PM Tony Abbott has infuriated greens in the last few days”
More than Greens. The loudest opposition has come from local farmers and their representatives.

July 18, 2015 11:58 pm

Anyone who feels ‘green guilt’ for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere is mentally handicapped. They are incapable of understanding the well documented laws explaining the science of energy transfer. We normally try to help handicapped people so they don’t injure themselves. Why aren’t we helping the greenies?

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
July 19, 2015 12:01 am

Speaking as a Brit, our cousins in Australia have a record of just doing something simply and with common sense. Their immigration policy is envied by the British people. I wish them all the good fortune in the world with their energy and export policies, and hope they continue to mine more coal, which they can extract quite cheaply. Go Aussies.

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
July 19, 2015 3:10 am

Hear hear

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
July 19, 2015 4:47 am

jim in this one case..N stokes comment re the Farmers whos prime land is being stuffed around for this DOES have a very valid post..and the extra kicker is? china I believe is planning on importing workers
when we need emloyment for already our of work miners with skills here
that said
NO need for this mine at all
they could have bought any one of a number of already working mines. AND kept their staff in work

Chris Schoneveld
Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 21, 2015 9:59 am

I am not a native English speaker. Is that the reason I have problems understanding what your are saying? Or is it your lack of proper grammar and interpunction that is troubling me?

Jack Permian
July 19, 2015 12:04 am

If you have to burn coal, it might as well be Gondwana coal – very clean with few nasties as it was laid down at the current south pole before the contents started their northern migration.

July 19, 2015 12:53 am

i wish Abbott could put someone in charge of the UK National Grid who thinks the way the Aussie Government does. The current incumbent thinks it’s ok to run with zero safety margin & a wing & a prayer using wind & solar power to complement fossil fuels in the middle of winter. A disaster in the making…….

Reply to  johnofenfield
July 19, 2015 4:51 am

yeah sort of, BUT we also have HUGE costs added for supply n services after they dropped the carbon tax..
we are being gouged by supply cos
Mandatory “dumb Meters” in Vic..for something so super duper, theyve managed to over charge repeat charge and generally create a mess AND we pay for it ongoing and rising quarterly
power day rate is avg round the 29c a kw hr…total bloody rip off the only time anyone not in a fulltime max wage job can afford to turn the oven /washer/ etc on is after 10pm at night or weekends…and when enough people wise up then I bet that off peak rate also soars.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 19, 2015 11:00 am

When I hear ‘smart’ I feel the sting of the lash.

Arthur Clapham
July 19, 2015 1:12 am

At last!! a politician with commonsense, a rare breed indeed.

Reply to  Arthur Clapham
July 19, 2015 2:26 am

The pathological hatred of Abbott by those of the left is something to believe. This guy could shut down all our coal mines and he still wouldn’t make the greens happy. In the end, he simply chooses to do what’s best for Australia, the greens can go to hell.

Reply to  craig
July 19, 2015 10:59 am

Heh, with Abbott, they scrape their bellies open on the tip of the iceberg.

July 19, 2015 1:14 am

On a side note, the australian “Black” coal burns far cleaner than most of the coal China can get from its domestic mines.
So technically australia is being a good citizen by helping our chinese neigbours reduce the amount of pollutants they will be putting into the atmoshpere.
There is a bumper sticker here that I see a lot.
“Fertilise the bush, bulldoze in a Greenie”

Reply to  Felflames
July 19, 2015 4:43 am

Not true. It is mostly related to the bells and whistles on the facility doing the burning and associated pollution controls, not the coal itself.

R. Shearer
Reply to  AP
July 19, 2015 10:46 am

Assuming that no scrubbing is used, combustion of a lower sulfur coal will emit less sulfur dioxide. If scrubbing is used, a lower sulfur coal scrubber would consume less lime for example. Same reasoning applies for other pollutants.

July 19, 2015 1:21 am

I’m still peeved that they aren’t counting the CO2 emitted from bio-fuels. That’s the real scam – it’s not like it doesn’t get into the atmosphere – Lord only knows what that CO2 is attributed to once it’s there – because it’s still there. :/

Reply to  4TimesAYear
July 19, 2015 4:59 am

well not biofuels BUT some EU analretentive are now claiming organic farms produce more co2 etc than commercial..
theyd be the same fools who think Monsanto and mates chem farming is sustainable and good for the soil. or people n animals.
dunno bout you but a newly upped allowable intake .5of a gram of roundup(up from .3) in my body PER KILO of bodyweight coming in via my food daily, depending on what I eat..doesnt make me feel very happy about it.
of course thats assumed adult intake
what about kids? how much glyphosate a day do they need as RDI? I wonder?
coal is the LEAST of our problems when the scrubbers are fitted n working

Chris Schoneveld
Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 21, 2015 10:01 am

Again, I can’t understand a word you are saying. Please put some effort in writing proper English.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 22, 2015 9:07 am

‘Organic’ farms are certainly bad for the environment – land-intensive. Land is an inelastic resource – so ‘organic’ agriculture promotes cutting down rainforests. Glyphosate was an excellent invention, useful in energy-saving ‘no-till’ agriculture.

July 19, 2015 1:41 am

We should use the greens idea of fossil fuel taxation for coal.
We COULD pull out 1000 Mt per year from that mine, but we will only pull out 500 Mt, thus halving our emissions for the year.

Just an engineer
Reply to  mobihci
July 23, 2015 10:08 am

You’re not doing it right, use greenie logic. Claim it may be able to produce 2000 Mt per year, but since we only mined 500, the emissions are cut by 75%!

William Astley
July 19, 2015 1:52 am

Every engineering calculation and every scientific premise connected to the cult of CAGW has been distorted or is just incorrect.
The calculation and total CO2 difference CO2 coal vs natural gas does not include the energy required to transport the natural gas long distances in pipelines or to liquefy and then to heat up the liquefied natural gas, both of which use 30% of the transport CH4. In the case of Europe were the transported distance is extraordinary as the Europeans refuse to all the evil fracking it is 40%.
Due to the above engineering fact that cannot be avoided due to basic physics the CO2 benefit of burning natural gas rather than cool is only 10 to 20%.
A 10 to 20% benefit in reduced CO2 does not justify paying three times as much for the energy to use natural gas rather than coal, particularly if a country is running a deficit. (i.e. Almost every country.)
P.S. The absurdity of the CO2 sin calculations reaches astronomical levels if one adds the scientific fact that 2/3 of the recent CO2 rise was due to natural reasons (the planet warmed) rather than anthropogenic CO2 emissions and more than 2/3 of the recent warming has also due to natural reasons (changes in the solar cycle.) rather than anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

For an equivalent amount of heat, burning natural gas produces about 30 per cent less carbon dioxide than burning petroleum and about 45 per cent less than burning coal.

However, on the West Coast of the United States, where up to three new LNG importation terminals were proposed prior to the U.S. fracking boom, environmental groups, such as Pacific Environment, Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy (RACE), and Rising Tide had moved to oppose them.[88] They claimed that, while natural gas power plants emit approximately half the carbon dioxide of an equivalent coal power plant, the natural gas combustion required to produce and transport LNG to the plants adds 20 to 40 percent more carbon dioxide than burning natural gas alone.[

On a per kilometre transported basis, emissions from LNG are lower than piped natural gas, which is a particular issue in Europe, where significant amounts of gas are piped several thousand kilometres from Russia. However, emissions from natural gas transported as LNG are higher than for natural gas produced locally to the point of combustion as emissions associated with transport are lower for the latter.

Reply to  William Astley
July 19, 2015 2:26 am

I assume that the energy required for bowl mills, etc. that coal needs but that gas doesn’t is negligible?

Reply to  Joe Born
July 19, 2015 6:18 am

Joe, the coal plant I worked at (just precipitators, no scrubber) had ~3% auxiliary power cost. The ball-mill-power had to be a small percentage of that. So it’s not insignificant, but just barely.
Auxiliary power costs on new plants w/scrubbers is considerably higher, of course. With proposed carbon-capture, aux costs would be ridiculously high, something like 25-30%. That’s not even considering capital and maintenance costs. Modern plants I visited had a large percentage of the entire maintenance force working non-stop on all the “pollution” equipment — especially scrubbers.

Reply to  Joe Born
July 19, 2015 8:54 am

Thanks for the data point. I hadn’t even thought about scrubbers as an energy loss. (And I’m surprised there are some plants that don’t have them, since I saw installations forty years ago already that did.)
Also, it seems that energy expended in extraction must be greater for coal than for gas, although I haven’t been able to determine whether it’s significant in either case.

Reply to  William Astley
July 19, 2015 2:31 am

The whole CO2 thing is absurd, purely and simply because the Greenhouse Effect is a myth! The average temperature of the atmosphere IS -18C. That we only care about the bottom 0.01% of it where atmospheric pressure increases that average is irrelevant to the greenhouse con.

Reply to  William Astley
July 19, 2015 10:05 am

The amount of CO2 the atmosphere gained is less than the amount of CO2 that was injected into it by fossil fuel burning. Nature has been removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Sometimes people don’t get this right because they equate a gigaton of CO2 with a gigaton of carbon – which is the carbon in 3.67 gigatons (petagrams) of CO2. The global carbon budget for the years 1959-2010 is available from the Tyndall Centre at http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/global-carbon-budget-2010.

July 19, 2015 2:12 am

The best answer for the questions asked in the posting: “all of the above”. For in religious reasoning all answers are valid to some groups.
Fundamentally though, coal is good for both China and Australia.

July 19, 2015 2:18 am

Lol. Though the arguments being made against this particular coal mine, for once, aren’t about CO2 (at least not officially). The protests over this mine have been about farmland on or nearby. Many farmers who are Abbott supporters have gotten very angry because the man who had been elected to government for that region had promised that the mine wouldn’t go ahead. The fact that he is a Cabinet Minister as well (Barnaby Joyce) has really put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Bruce Cobb
July 19, 2015 4:17 am

The Greenie handbook states that someone has to be punished for the carbon “sin” of coal. While usually that means whomever burns it is the guilty one, in this case since China gets a free pass, it’s the producer, Australia. So bad, bad Australia. Prepare to get spanked soundly in Paris.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 19, 2015 5:53 am

Paraphrasing the pig’s “four-legs good” mantra” Socialism good (well, China is actually not even communist right but more of a military-led capitalistic-dictatorship), capitalism evil. China will NEVER be properly condemned by today’s international enviro’s.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
July 20, 2015 11:58 am

“President Obama has effectively granted China a “free pass” until the 2030s, to emit as much CO2 as they want. So there is no problem with China digging up vast quantities of their own coal, and burning it in Chinese power plants.”
Frankly, I don’t think China gives two hoots about what Obummer or the US of A thinks. The US of A can give China a ‘free pass’ or not and China will do what China wants to do as long as it is for the interests of China.
China will sign anything that won’t cost them or affect their march to improving their lot. I’m sure when the leaders of China get together, they roll on the floor laughing with tears flowing, mocking the western leaders about the bull*hit they are pursuing called…what’s the current term?

July 19, 2015 4:22 am

The stance on coal is an oddly hypocritical one. I’ve heard many times environmentalists justify or even blame Developing World emissions on Western nations because so the logic goes “We create the demand for what they are manufacturing”. In this case China is creating the demand for what Australia is mining. Following their logic it isn’t Australia’s fault they are mining coal it’s China’s.
Of course I’m just being deliberately dense. The logic of that claim is questionable at best. Personally I’ve gone so far as to suggest it is simply a continuation of an old idea. What environmentalists suggest, but will never admit, is that their logic hinges on the idea that Developing Nations which are predominately Asian or African can’t think for themselves and need the guidance of predominately Caucasian and mainly European or European descended individuals in order to make choices. Some day we will hopefully look back at that kind of thought and correctly label it as racist or discriminatory, little different then the idea that African Americans shouldn’t be removed from slavery because they like or need the conditions in order to function.

Reply to  PepperSauce
July 19, 2015 5:49 am


What environmentalists suggest, but will never admit, is that their logic hinges on the idea that Developing Nations which are predominately Asian or African can’t think for themselves and need the guidance of predominately Caucasian and mainly European or European descended individuals in order to make choices. Some day we will hopefully look back at that kind of thought and correctly label it as racist or discriminatory, little different then the idea that African Americans shouldn’t be removed from slavery because they like or need the conditions in order to function.

I think rather it is the environmentalists’ “religion” to maintain – to worship actually – a Margret Meade attitude of the “noble savage” living unpolluted and holy in a pristine green environment of selflessness and virtue, untainted by ANY evil “modern world” vice, pollution, illnesses, or moral problems.
It is not so much that today’ environmentalists want the blacks and Asians to remain slaves, but more that they want them to remain virgin and pristine locked in a zoo behind plastic walls in their pygmy hide huts or bamboo shelters on view as the “recipients” of the enviro’s altruistic motives to preserve their ancient cultures of filth, sweat, blood, manure, illness, internal parasites, disease, early death, and lifelong starvation.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
July 19, 2015 12:00 pm


Gunga Din
Reply to  RACookPE1978
July 19, 2015 12:29 pm

RA, it makes them feel good that others are living closer to nature. History has proved that they like it that way. Take for example the Indians (Native Americans). The white traders always found it difficult to trade with them because they didn’t want metal knives or guns or any other thing that had been manufactured by a technology more advanced than theirs. They preferred to live in the stone age.
(Now where did I put that really BIG “sarc tag”…….

Walt D.
July 19, 2015 4:29 am

You could actually make a scientific argument that China burning coal has absolutely no effect not only on temperature but also on total CO2 in the atmosphere. During the last 20 years not only has there been little or no warming of the lower troposphere, but also no increase in the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2, which has styed close to 2ppm per year. Meanwhile, China’s CO2 production has doubled – they are now the world’s largest producer of CO2.

Reply to  Walt D.
July 19, 2015 10:16 am

Have a look at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo_growth There is unsteadiness in the trend because a hot year has some of its CO2 removal by nature being postponed to the next year. The longer term trend of increasing growth rate of atmospheric CO2 shows through.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
July 19, 2015 10:41 am

Hmmmm, Pinatubos and Superninos both show.

michael hart
July 19, 2015 5:16 am

President Obama has effectively granted China a “free pass” until the 2030s

In his dreams.
China has granted China a free pass, until such time as they feel like changing it.

July 19, 2015 5:19 am

Perhaps we should be discussing the long term logic of again allowing fully foreign owned companies to dig up said coal and to profit offshore and largely tax free from its export sale. Of course the Chinese would be silly to dig up and diminish their own reserves when Oz provides an All You can dig smorgasboard. Funded by cash artificially generated in their own banking system (yeah, we ain’t smart enough to do that within our own country, right?)
This further compounded by Abbot’s ‘brilliance’ in ‘Free Trade’ negotiations that will allow the import of skilled (on the basis of their own paperwork) O/S workers (on the basis of their own paperwork) to take the jobs.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 19, 2015 5:57 pm

Agreed, Eric, it is a complex subject.
If it is only tax, then we should be smart enough to create a sovereign wealth fund type holding company, (ie Temasak Holdings style), then provide favorable tax breaks to the ‘working’ company (often, in Singapore style, 51% owned by Temasak anyway).
That always brings the free market supporters out howling, but the alternative is to give away vast sums to foreign entities, shareholders and foreign taxation authorities for a relatively small slice of the full value.
It is worth noting Temasak is now in the process of divesting some of their businesses – apparently under the mantra of free markets. Given their past success in rapid development of their country, it is interesting to contemplate what has changed their thinking. I’d suspect of new generation of ‘free market literal adherents’ coming through, not quite realizing the significant advantage of keeping a firm hand on the tiller and in the cash register.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 19, 2015 10:10 pm

We could do it the Norwegian way.
Statoil ASA, (OSE: STL), is a Norwegian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. It is a fully integrated petroleum company with operations in thirty-six countries. By revenue, Statoil is ranked by Forbes Magazine (2013) as the world’s eleventh largest oil and gas company and the twenty-sixth largest company, regardless of industry, by profit in the world. The company has about 23,000 employees.
As of 2013, the Government of Norway is the largest shareholder in Statoil with 67% of the shares, while the rest is public stock.
============TOP TEN IN CREDIT===============
1 Germany $257,700,000,000
2 China $204,300,000,000
3 Saudi Arabia $108,700,000,000
4 Netherlands $79,200,000,000
5 Korea, South $79,000,000,000
6 Switzerland $76,200,000,000
7 Kuwait $66,050,000,000
8 Singapore $62,580,000,000
9 Taiwan $59,810,000,000
10 Norway $58,000,000,000
============TOP TEN IN DEFECIT===============
184 Indonesia -$25,490,000,000
185 France -$33,900,000,000
186 European Union -$34,490,000,000
187 Australia -$37,000,000,000
188 India -$42,990,000,000
189 Turkey -$47,460,000,000
190 Canada -$50,800,000,000
191 Brazil -$80,920,000,000
192 United Kingdom -$117,900,000,000
193 United States -$385,800,000,000
Are we too stupid to own and exploit our own resources?
The overall tax rate on investments is much higher in Norway (~48%, corporate + dividends) compared to here (30% flat, includes dividends), btw.

July 19, 2015 5:22 am

As a follow on to my previous comment, I am completely baffled as to what you are all celebrating in this case.

Reply to  markx
July 19, 2015 8:48 am


Coach Springer
July 19, 2015 6:54 am

It’s only a conundrum if you make it one.

July 19, 2015 7:11 am

It’s a good thing Australia is not downwind of China…..they don’t have to deal with the Chinese smog.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 19, 2015 7:47 am

Yes, when the CO2 angle doesn’t work, throw in smog. That’ll work.

July 19, 2015 8:36 am

Great heavens! Guilt and blame? Better credit and thanks. The mild warming and great greening of man’s pitiful aliquot of fossilized carbon is a boon, a benefit and a blessing. The biosphere is carbon dioxide starved and always likes it warmer.
We’ll figure it out, or perhaps leave it to our grandchildren to figure out.

July 19, 2015 8:47 am

A vegan friend of mine told me they now have a coal substitute made out of tofu.

July 19, 2015 8:52 am

Why is coal even an issue? And does it matter where the coal comes from, or goes to? It is one planet – not an allocation of arbitrary, man-made regions.
This presupposes the discredited proposition that CO2 is a pollutant and a hazardous threat to mankind. Why is it worth a mention?

July 19, 2015 9:31 am

Coal is of zero value when sitting in the ground, undeveloped. Even it cannot be economically extracted, it may be a source of methane gas. But it should be clear to anyone with open eyes and a sound mind that greens care far more about destroying human prosperity than they care about the environment. How else can you explain their distinct silence on the issue of developing safe nuclear power?
Stop and consider how many billions of dollars of subsidies that government have had to shell out in order to make “renewable” power sources economically sustainable. Well the dirty secret is that renewable power is NOT economic or else China would not want to buy so much Australian coal, given how many solar panels are made in China. For all the subsidies for solar and wind power, we could have safe and clean nuclear power at this very moment. All this waste and fraud makes my head explode.
Next up: government gets exhausted of paying subsidies, cuts them. As subsides wane and power contracts lapse, wind power companies no longer can pay for service and upkeep of unused wind turbines. They fall into disuse and start to become dangerous eyesores. New environmentalist program: to properly decommission dangerous wind turbines left by “greedy” utilities who only put them up to “take advantage” of subsides. Dirty capitalists.

July 19, 2015 12:47 pm

Standard ethical analysis here: Can alcohol be used in a ‘sinful’ way? Sure. Is every use of alcohol ‘sinful’? No. So if you sell alcohol as such, there is no guilt attached to you. But if you sell alcohol to people who express an intent to use it for ‘sinful’ purposes? Then you are complicit in their sin. Related by similarity, if you sell alcohol to a man that is drunk, you are complicit in his drunkenness.

July 19, 2015 2:53 pm

The media at steady intervals have echoed the many accidents which have striken and continue striking the chinese coal mines due to the poor safety standards inherited from the communist period.
In my opinion, the modern way of coal mining in Australia instead of China will spare a lot of chinese workers’ lifes. Who would be so stupid to oppose this except the environmentalists?

July 19, 2015 7:22 pm

Greenhouse gases are only a part of the issue with this mine.
It is mostly about new development within well-established farmland and using fear of contamination to farming practices to maintain an existing land based monopoly, and also using fear to sell media stories and keep alarmist academics employed.
It’s very similar to the Diana syndrome, every bit of information is twisted to sell a story and invoke a public reaction, but in this case based on fear rather than based on social status and image. The media have learnt that they can sell a story based on potential fears, so with any new development this is what now occurs, and mining is one of the best chestnuts to do this with. It hardly matters that every report on this development states that water for farming will not be effected.

Climate Pete
July 19, 2015 7:24 pm

President Obama has effectively granted China a “free pass” until the 2030s, to emit as much CO2 as they want.

Not quite true. The Chinese said they would peak CO2 emissions in 2030 or earlier.
There was a general recognition in the West among those doing calculations on future CO2 emissions that, to peak CO2 in 2030, China would have to peak coal use in 2020. The Chinese went on to publicly state they would peak coal use in 2020 or earlier. Encouraging that the Chinese think the same.
However, there is evidence now that China actually peaked coal emissions in 2013, not 2020.
By April 2015 coal use in China was 8% down from the 2013 peak, while GDP was still growing faster than 7% pa. 2014 whole year was 2.9% down on 2013 coal use. Some of this is a result of displacing coal power generation with natural gas generation – which typically produces only half the CO2 emissions. This is what has happened in Beijing, which has already replaced 3 of 4 coal stations with gas stations (with higher net capacity each), and the last Beijing coal generating station is scheduled to close in 2017.
China recognises that 350,000 to 600,000 people die early each year as a result of air pollution, and this is mainly due to coal burning. London is not so different, by the way, with recent estimates of up to 10,000 people per year dying early, though most of this is to do with traffic fumes, especially diesel. Anyway, the Chinese people do not like this and the government are pretty determined to do something about it.
It is difficult for the Chinese leaders to make the Chinese economy change directions, but once the change has started, then it is easier to persuade hearts and minds when you can arbitrarily imprison people who do not toe the line. So the change in coal consumption is probably real and has been planned.
If coal use never again rises above the 2013 peak then it is likely China will peak CO2 emissions in 2025 rather than 2030.
And lastly, there are many who believe the Chinese government would not ever say “or earlier” unless they had a cast iron plan to make sure the peaks happened earlier, because of the impact of a loss of face. This supports a 2013 coal peak and a 2025 CO2 emissions peak.
So, whatever Obama and the US think China may or may not have agreed to, there are strong internal Chinese reasons to peak as early as possible, and significant evidence that they may already done this with the first peak coal milestone (which was not a part of the agreement with the USA).

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Climate Pete
July 20, 2015 12:02 am

Climate Pete
You say

The Chinese said they would peak CO2 emissions in 2030 or earlier.

Clearly, you don’t understand what that means, so I will explain it for you.
When politicians say they will do something decades in the future then they are saying they have no intention to do it.
2030 is 15 years in the future and was more than 20 years in the future in 2009 when the Chinese said they would peak CO2 emissions BY 2030. The Chinese did not then state – and have not yet stated – any plans they are adopting to achieve the peak. This demonstrates that they don’t intend to do it.
Perhaps you cannot understand this, so I will use an analogy in attempt to assist your infamously low abilities at comprehension. A politician promising to do something decades in the future is like someone saying they will make a New Year Resolution when New Year arrives. Subsequently, the Resolution is said to be adopted when New Year arrives but the Resolution is soon seen to fail: this failure is because a Resolver who really intends to do something does it when he decides to do it and does not wait until New Year before starting to do it.

Climate Pete
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 20, 2015 1:22 am

Let me explain to you the extreme cynicism of your position. You wish to believe that China is doing nothing and intends to do nothing about coal or CO2 because that would fit well with your world view. This is pure wishful thinking on your part, and not based on any evidence.
Politicians, even those with absolute power like the Chinese communist party, tend to do what the population wants because it is generally best to keep the people happy. Here are the results of the latest YouGov international poll on climate change :comment image
Note that only 3% of Chinese support no action on climate change or do not know sufficient about it to form a view. This is hardly surprising in a country with so many deaths from air pollution due to coal. Most people there are going to equate fossil fuel burning with “coal” as that is the vast majority of it in China.
So the only real debate among the Chinese is whether they should go “fast” or “faster” in reducing CO2 emissions. And 60% are saying “faster”. “Fast” is in relation to the USA right wing’s suicidal efforts to stop any action on climate change, by the way. There is no opposition to speak of (1%) in China to solving the problem of climate change compared with 7% and 17% in UK and USA. Action on CO2 emissions is therefore inevitable in China because the support for it is unanimous.
If you would like to modify your opinions to be evidence based instead of “convenient gut feel” then the Chinese UNFCCC submission is the fifth among submissions UNFCCC submissions for countries covering more than 60% of CO2 emissions.. This shows what the Chinese have already done, as well as the plans for 2020 and 2030. It may open your eyes.

Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 20, 2015 2:19 am

Climate Pete
Let me explain to you that you are spouting nonsense.
Firstly, there is no “cynicism” in my “position”. As always, I am being realistic.
China has no stated policy and/or plan to reduce CO2 emissions.
That is NOT “pure wishful thinking”: it is fact.
Your claim that China has such a policy and/or plan is delusional.
And the degree of your delusion concerning communist China is demonstrated by your writing this

Politicians, even those with absolute power like the Chinese communist party, tend to do what the population wants because it is generally best to keep the people happy.

So Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ and China’s ‘One Child Policy’ either did not happen or were attempts “to keep the people happy”? Do you really manage to delude yourself with that nonsense because it fails to convince anyone who has any sense?
And you provide reported results of an opinion poll conducted in a totalitarian country. If you really have convinced yourself that those ‘results’ are “evidence” of anything then it is no wonder you support the AGW-scare; clearly, you will believe anything that supports your prejudices however ridiculous the something may be.

Climate Pete
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 20, 2015 2:32 am

Straight question here.
Have you actually read the Chinese INDC submission on the link I posted or not.
“Yes” or “no” would do.

Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 20, 2015 11:50 am

Climate Pete
Yes, I have read it.
I am telling you that you don ‘t understand it (which is typical of your posts).

Climate Pete
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 21, 2015 12:51 am

Richard has clearly taken leave of his sentences. He believes there are alternative readings other than the obvious of passages such as :

To act on climate change in terms of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience, is not only driven by China’s domestic needs for sustainable development in ensuring its
economic security, energy security, ecological security, food security as well as the safety of people’s life and property and to achieve sustainable development,but also driven by its sense of responsibility to fully engage in global governance,to forge a community of shared destiny for humankind and to promote common development for all human beings.

In 2009, China announced internationally that by 2020 it will lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40% to 45% from the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to about 15% and increase the forested area by 40 million hectares and the forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters compared to the 2005 levels.
By 2014 the following has been achieved:
• Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP is 33.8% lower than the 2005 level;
• The share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption is 11.2%;
• The forested area and forest stock volume are increased respectively by 21.6 million hectares and 2.188 billion cubic meters compared to the 2005 levels;
• The installed capacity of hydro power is 300 gigawatts (2.57 times of that for 2005);
• The installed capacity of on-grid wind power is 95.81 gigawatts (90 times of that for 2005);
• The installed capacity of solar power is 28.05 gigawatts (400 times of that for 2005); and
• The installed capacity of nuclear power is 19.88 gigawatts (2.9 times of that for 2005).

Again, one wonders what alternative explanation Richard finds for what is a very clear statement which shows China is on track for meeting its 2020 climate targets, as set forth in 2009.
And now we have commitments such as :

To implement the National Program on Climate Change (2014-2020) and provincial climate programs;

Did Richard know that China has a national programme on climate change? Of course he didn’t. He explicitly stated above that there was no such plan. Would he know where to find it? No. He has never bothered to search for the English version of the Chinese government web site, preferring instead to believe it does not exist, whereas an obvious Google search gets you straight there. Incidentally it’s at http://en.ccchina.gov.cn/ to save Richard even that trouble.
And lastly,Richard appears somehow misunderstands the following Chinese statements :

Based on its national circumstances, development stage, sustainable development strategy and international responsibility, China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows:
• To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;
• To lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level; [current achievement 33.8%]
• To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% [current achievement 11.2%]; and
• To increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level. [current achievement 2.1 bn cubic metres]

Why should we believe the Chinese are serious about their 2030 targets? That is because they are already broadly at least half way there based on their 2009 commitments.
And as for “misunderstanding”, it is clear that for Richard, “convenient gut feel” trumps factual statements and public commitments.
The climate change commitments of most of the key nations are now on the UNFCCC web site. See http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/indc/Submission%20Pages/submissions.aspx . China is but the most important example.

Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 21, 2015 7:10 am

Climate Pete:
I have NOT taken leave of my senses. The problem is that you have yet to obtain any sense.
I repeat;
When politicians say they will do something decades in the future then they are saying they have no intention to do it.
And I repeat;
China has no stated policy and/or plan to reduce CO2 emissions.
That is NOT “pure wishful thinking”: it is fact.
Your claim that China has such a policy and/or plan is delusional.
An assertion that they hope to do something in the future under a title of “National Program on Climate Change (2014-2020) and provincial climate programs” is pure propaganda.
I also repeat;
And you provide reported results of an opinion poll conducted in a totalitarian country. If you really have convinced yourself that those ‘results’ are “evidence” of anything then it is no wonder you support the AGW-scare; clearly, you will believe anything that supports your prejudices however ridiculous the something may be.
You say you are impressed by reduced emissions per unit GDP or per person: such reductions are NOT reductions to actual emissions.
And you demand that I provide an alternative to your idiocy. No, I will stick to addressing reality.
In conclusion, I repeat;
I am telling you that you don ‘t understand the document you have cited (which is typical of your posts).

Climate Pete
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
July 22, 2015 8:50 am

[snip – you aren’t a psychologist, but an anonymous troll attacking people that use their real name in an attempt to defame them. That was way over the top. Get off my blog, you’re banned. – Anthony]

July 19, 2015 10:55 pm

Left Australia tries to block an inland coal project by the Indian Adani company; the Chinese on the other hand get a free pass. Hypocrites!

johann wundersamer
July 20, 2015 2:14 am

and no regress to renuable timber. Everyday Chopsticks for 1.3 bl. left just 1 wood – near the town of the heavenly palace, bejing.
The wood itself is sacred by the grave of the 1.st chinese.

July 20, 2015 5:20 am

The energy in coal was originally solar energy captured by ancient plants. Just designate it as delayed renewable energy and the problem is solved.

Reply to  Gary
July 20, 2015 8:33 am

Absolutely true! Coal at it’s core is the most viable solar energy solution we have!

Just an engineer
Reply to  Alx
July 23, 2015 10:40 am

And it’s directly responsible for more greening of the planet than all of the windmills and solar panels combined!

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