Guest essay by Eric Worrall
While China publicly demands the USA fulfil Obama’s Paris Agreement pledges, and makes a big deal of their conversion to green energy, behind the scenes the Chinese Belt and Road initiative is starting to look like a gigantic coal plant construction exercise.
Why Is China Placing A Global Bet On Coal?
China, known as the world’s biggest polluter, has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change.
So why is it also building hundreds of coal-fired power plants in other countries?
Xi took the highly unusual step, for him, of meeting with international journalists, during which he repeated the slogan that he is committed to “open, clean and green development.”
Yet China’s overseas ventures include hundreds of electric power plants that burn coal, which is a significant emitter of the carbon scientifically linked to climate change. Edward Cunningham, a specialist on China and its energy markets at Harvard University, tells NPR that China is building or planning more than 300 coal plants in places as widely spread as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.
A visit by NPR on Saturday to one of the plants, the Huaneng Beijing thermal power station, showed that it now burns natural gas — still a contributor to climate change but overall considered cleaner.
But the Chinese engineers, metalworkers and laborers who built coal-fired power plants must be kept employed. And, Cunningham says, “many are going abroad.” They are building energy projects for developing nations, largely as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Chinese officials were ready to answer such concerns at their Belt and Road Forum. “We’re not intending to transfer pollution to other countries,” said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing. “We’re trying to create development opportunities.“
…Read more: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/716347646/why-is-china-placing-a-global-bet-on-coal
That nice clean eco-friendly Huaneng gas plant in Beijing – NPR forgot to ask where they get their gas from.
There is a good chance the Huaneng plant still indirectly burns coal. China have invested heavily in coal to gas plants, so they can keep the economic benefits of burning coal, but shift most of the pollution from burning the coal away from major population centres.