NPR Notices Climate Action China are Building a Lot of Coal Plants

President of China, Xi Jinping arrives in London, 19 October 2015.
President of China, Xi Jinping arrives in London, 19 October 2015. By Foreign and Commonwealth Office (China State Visit) [CC BY 2.0 or OGL], via Wikimedia Commons

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?

Steve Inskeep, Ashley Westerman
April 29, 20191:42 PM ET

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:

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.

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Caligula Jones
April 30, 2019 8:08 am

Wait until they read through the not-so-fine-print on all those scientific papers where it says that water vapour is the largest “greenhouse gas”…

Joel Snider
Reply to  Caligula Jones
April 30, 2019 12:06 pm

I’m honestly torn telling greenies that because I’m afraid they’ll try to get rid of water.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Joel Snider
April 30, 2019 12:15 pm
Reply to  Caligula Jones
April 30, 2019 5:05 pm

Ha ha ha

John Garrett
April 30, 2019 8:16 am

NPR is the largest collection of the most gullible, innumerate, economic illiterates ever assembled.

Collectively, they make even Bill McKibben appear informed.

Reply to  John Garrett
April 30, 2019 9:53 am

They aren’t gullible. They are willfully blind.

Reply to  John Garrett
April 30, 2019 11:02 am

+10! NPR is an embarrassment.

Kevin McNeill
Reply to  John Garrett
April 30, 2019 11:17 am

AS we used to say in the Navy – thick as two short planks

Reply to  John Garrett
April 30, 2019 12:57 pm

No way, Garrett. That’s National Geographic Magazine’s claim to fame. Attributing everything that has happened in the last 25 years to global warming/climaty changy.

K. I confess I don’t listen to NPR. They could be as bad as NatGeo. But not worse.

Joe B
Reply to  Gamecock
April 30, 2019 3:22 pm

I listen to NPR almost non stop for 2 days a week, exclusively for their ongoing traffic reporting.
I have come to recognize that it is the predominantly academic and artistic/creative backgrounds of the audience which lends to their gross ignorance in commercial, engineering, and ‘real world’ matters.

To compensate, ‘experts’ are trotted out, ‘studies’ are reverentially hoisted aloft, and the acolytes zealously bow to the lab-coated shamans who authoritatively tell them what they innately wish to hear.

Works pretty good, actually.

Reply to  Joe B
May 3, 2019 8:02 am

I also listen to and financially support NPR because most of their news coverage is good. As for Inskeep, I always wonder why he is so sure about what he tells us about climate change. The least one can say is that he is biased.
I have always been thinking to what extend some of their liberal major donors are influencing their climate agenda.
Actually the same goes for PBS. They have great programs but again, they can’t resist blaming everything that is not ‘normal’ on climate change.

Thomas Homer
April 30, 2019 8:21 am

” the carbon scientifically linked to climate change ” [Citation needed]

Reply to  Thomas Homer
April 30, 2019 9:10 am

That’s just dummy to ask refs when there are literally tons of them.

Or did you mean it is not true?

The main post shows how much NPR knows of ‘natural’ gas. And of China, the climate leader in emissions.

Reply to  Hugs
April 30, 2019 10:25 am

Passing “pal review” or even true rigorous peer review doesn’t make something true.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
April 30, 2019 9:33 am

First, it isn’t carbon – it’s carbon dioxide. But how can we expect NPR to understand the difference.
Second, as Mr Homer asks, where is that scientific linkage between carbon, or carbon dioxide, to climate change?

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 30, 2019 11:14 am

As far as I know Jim, the sensitivity relationship between the radiative properties of the CO2 molecule and the climate in terms of mean temperature increase is not determined.

Thus the decision of where you would like to be (low/high sensitivity) on the issue is political.

Currently, when it comes to proper understanding of this issue, ignorance dominates, hence I recommend siding with the alarmists.

Make your marriage work…go with the flow

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 1, 2019 8:58 am


Reply to  Thomas Homer
April 30, 2019 10:21 am

In mathematical proofs, when a step is obviously true we note “By inspection”. There’s your citation. [sarc]

Reply to  Thomas Homer
April 30, 2019 4:05 pm

To Kevin McNeill in reply above, “as thick as a whale omelet.” As the The Blackadder would say.

April 30, 2019 8:37 am

What took NPR so long and how can they be surprised?

Reply to  RHS
April 30, 2019 10:27 am

They’re a bit slow those folks. What has it been, 10 …. 20 years? Give it another 10 or 20 years and they’ll figure out that Indians aren’t native Americans.

Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2019 8:46 am

Uh-oh, NPR had better be careful – they might be accused of being deniers!

April 30, 2019 8:51 am

I’ve seen enough references to the (one) converted coal power plant near Beijing to wonder if it’s a Potemkin Village for shallow journalism.

Comments I’ve seen online suggest it does not take much persuasion effort to deceive libs about China’s decision to close some coal plants around Beijing as being equivalent to the hundreds of coal plants across the country and off the tour route.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 30, 2019 9:34 am

No, it’s for shallow journalists.

April 30, 2019 8:53 am

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?

Apparently NPR hasn’t noticed that China is building a lot of coal-fired power plants inside China too. +25% by at least one count:

April 30, 2019 8:53 am

Just don’t send a Canadian affiliate station to investigate–they might not come back.

April 30, 2019 8:55 am

China is playing Western politicians off a break.
I reckon the West’s empty suit politicians secretly know their CAGW ramblings are absolute bumpf, but they’re all too timid to challenge the bs.
It’s a sad paradigm, the modern “advanced” democracies.

George V
April 30, 2019 8:56 am

I expect the Chinese to start building coal plants and electrical infrastructure in Africa, where the World Bank and UN would rather the people use small solar stills to get clean water and cook their food over renewable biofuels (a.k.a, dung, poop) while letting nature handle the sewage. The Chinese will let these people know just who is responsible for the improvement in their lives with a modern electrical grid, creating Chines allies forever, even as they simultaneously make the Africans economic slaves.

But then, I tend to be somewhat cynical and think the worst of people, so maybe I’m wrong.

Reply to  George V
April 30, 2019 9:16 am

It’s called hegemony, imperialism by another name.

John Endicott
Reply to  George V
April 30, 2019 9:23 am

Some how I don’t think you are wrong.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  George V
April 30, 2019 10:58 am

You are not wrong. Africa is China’s China. China has been investing more in Africa than anywhere else. Once those African states can’t pay back their debt, China will lay claim to everything in payment. Already happening.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 30, 2019 1:26 pm

I spent time in Tanzania last September working with local doctors. I was surprised by the visceral hostility toward China expressed by these intelligent, caring people. They are well aware of the ensnaring strings that come with Chinese largesse. Their country is poor. It is hard for them to say ‘no’ to a train or a power plant or road building. Yet they made clear they are aware of the cynicism and contempt the Chinese hold for them.

Strangely, given the anti-imperialist, anti-colonial rhetoric rife in America’ progressive media and schools, which many of these good Africans have been exposed to during their training years, I felt zero resentment from any Africans I met and worked with. Indeed the only anti-American comments I heard were from some otherwise very nice Australians on holiday I encountered who decried Trump. Interestingly, immediately after their comments, a very bright, business-owning Tanzanian woman spoke right up, challenging them in a nice way. “Mr Trump is not all wrong about the mess we have made of our country since the British and Germans left…!” The Aussies were shocked, and I must admit I was too. We live in an amazing world, which, by the way, will survive at least a bit longer than twelve years despite the “carbon”.

April 30, 2019 8:57 am

No fan of China, but they have the right to build as many coal plants as they want.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  beng135
April 30, 2019 9:17 am

As does anybody else! The supposed “link” of CO2 to climate change is little more than propaganda, so the supposed harm of building coal fired power plants is an illusion, aside from any REAL pollution if they don’t use appropriate pollution control devices for their stack emissions.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  beng135
April 30, 2019 9:20 am

If only they would quit talking out of both sides of their mouth!

Ian W
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2019 9:39 am

Why should the Chinese do that when they are winning?

The gullible virtue signalling politicians in the ‘West’ are happily killing their own economies and demanding electrification of everything while simultaneously crippling the power generation facilities by ‘replacing’ them with subsidy farms which have a byproduct of occasional electricity. Wherever possible these politicians are shutting down ‘fossil fuel’ exploration and recovery and adding more and more regulations to prevent the development of new nuclear power and accelerate the close down of existing nuclear power.

Meanwhile the Chinese are becoming self sufficient and are purchasing: tracts of agricultural land in other countries like Africa and Australia; infrastructure in other countries like almost all the major West coast ports in the USA; and, are providing usurious loans to the third world to build coal fired plants and roads in those countries – in reality turning them into vassal states for China.

In as short as a decade the West would have collapsed, except for the election of President Trump who in a year has turned the USA into the largest exporter of oil and gas against the obdurate resistance from all the suicidal virtue signalling of the Democrat states and politicians.

John Endicott
Reply to  beng135
April 30, 2019 9:28 am

Exactly. And the beauty of it is, they’re not breaking their Paris agreement no matter how many coal plants they build (either abroad or within their own borders) as they promised not to cap emissions until many years from now (IIRC 2030) – which means they have carte blanche from the Paris accords to continue raising emissions as much as they want between now and then. And they’re taking advantage of that as best they can.

Reply to  John Endicott
April 30, 2019 11:07 am

Exactly, Mr. Endicott. So how can anyone think they are at the forefront of fighting AGW?

Mr. Cobb mentioned that they are talking our of both sides of their mouth. Remember, they are trying to entice the West into breaking themselves economically, with China only pushing propaganda. Outlets like NPR are abetting them.

steve case
Reply to  beng135
April 30, 2019 9:38 am

beng135 at 8:57 am
No fan of China, but they have the right to build as many coal plants as they want.

And they ought to have the good sense to install bag houses and electrostatic scrubbers. Are they? Not from what I saw. The air pollution is truly hideous. Get up a few floors in one of their high-rise hotels and you can’t see the ground.

John Endicott
Reply to  steve case
April 30, 2019 10:07 am

And that’s their problem to fix (or not) as they see fit.

Reply to  steve case
April 30, 2019 11:18 am

Actually, it winds up being America’s problem bytoo when it travels a ross the Pacific. California has documented a non-trivial contribution from transport from China.

Reply to  steve case
April 30, 2019 12:20 pm

That air pollution is not from coal power plants. It is mostly due to many, many million houses in China still being heated by burning coal.
I will be solved by more electrification.

Hiro Kawabata
Reply to  tty
May 1, 2019 3:53 pm


Reply to  beng135
April 30, 2019 10:07 am

China is acting in their own best interest as they recognize whoever has the least expensive energy will take over the worlds economy. I strongly suspect that their climate scientists know with absolute certainty that the IPCC couldn’t be more wrong about the effects of CO2 while the IPCC’s politically supported errors strangle their economic competitors. It’s a win win for them and a lose lose for the developed world. I expect nothing less, since if they weren’t doing what they are, they wouldn’t be acting in the best interest of the people they govern. Unfortunately, the political left in America is not so enlightened as they enable vacuous emotional arguments to override what’s in the best interest of Americans.

April 30, 2019 9:06 am

I’m surprised NPR was allowed to point out the hypocrisy of turning a blind eye to some nations increasing their coal use for energy at a faster rate than Western nations are decreasing their usage. My guesstimate is for every coal fired plant being decommissioned China is building 12 to replace it.

April 30, 2019 9:11 am

No worries as long as you keep in mind , that often they’ll say one thing , mean something else and do something entirely different …

April 30, 2019 9:16 am

China has never bought into CC/CAGW. They will be glad to take anything they can get in the form of transfers of wealth and technology through stupid agreements like the Paris Climate “Dicsord”, but they will only clean up their coal enough so that they can breathe again…which has no effect on CO2.

Their emissions are set to continue ACCELERATING for at least the next 3 decades.

The huge increased rate of emissions we saw around 2002-2003 were primarily from China.

comment image

This approximately 30% upward deflection point in the global emissions trajectory (i.e. a GROWTH RATE) has been broadly reported and validated.

Mentioned hardly AT ALL is that the global atmospheric CO2 levels as monitored at Mauna Loa does not show a rate of change in the linear upward drift in CO2 corresponding to this sudden upward shift in global emissions.

The fact that the proponents of Catastrophic Climate Change have NOT been feverishly and loudly (I can’t really hear it at all) focused on the China’s (and India and Southeast Asia’s) rapidly growing CO2 emissions says to me that CC/CAGW isn’t really about climate change. If it’s the END OF THE WORLD, wouldn’t you think the Alarmists would at least say something?

As things stand, we in the West could meet all of OUR ridiculous CO2 emissions targets by 2050 (at the expense of our economies), and CO2 levels will continue to increase. The 1.5 Degree target is impossible to reach without a plan to help/make China “fall into line”…. (crickets chirping).

Who’s in favor of $5-50 Trillion (depending upon which Democrat gets into power) getting spent for nothing. I don’t think it’s a very good plan.

Reply to  DocSiders
April 30, 2019 10:34 am

Trump is saving his ammo for whoever gets the Kleptocrat nomination. I hope it’s O’Rourke. It will be as close to a blood sport as is legal. Pity AOC is only 7 or 8 years old. and can’t run.

James R Clarke
Reply to  DocSiders
April 30, 2019 10:59 am

“The fact that the proponents of Catastrophic Climate Change have NOT been feverishly and loudly (I can’t really hear it at all) focused on the China’s (and India and Southeast Asia’s) rapidly growing CO2 emissions says to me that CC/CAGW isn’t really about climate change.”

Indeed! This is just the latest indication that proponents of CCC aren’t really concerned about the climate. Almost everything they have done from the very beginning are the actions of people far more concerned with power and control than future climate. The only people really concerned about climate are the poor shmucks they have frightened to death.

Reply to  James R Clarke
May 1, 2019 2:40 am

UN has said that question is not climate at all. It´s global wealth distribution from rich to poor. At the end all nations are poor, and next step is obviously new world order. We have already our way to talk narrowed by “political correctness” newspeak. We have all these “smart phones” which reduce our ability to understand written text, because books are so old fashion.

China and India have free ticket for their emissions, like other “poor” countries. Instead UN is giving our money to equalize wealth.

Green movements goal is world wide Marxism – Stalinism communism. USA, thank you Donald Trump, is the only nation whos leader does not believe this climate crap. Our only hope is the Land Of The Free. I really wish that you can win this worldwide fight, again.

AGW is not Science
April 30, 2019 9:20 am

Maybe NPR also needs to notice that China’s climbing CO2 emissions render any US emission reductions completely moot, so at the end of the day we’ll just see if the Earth is spinning out of (climate) control in 12 years.

It won’t be, even though emissions will continue to rise.

April 30, 2019 9:26 am

You may visit all the Chinese power plants as you like—as long as it’s the closed coal plant near Beijing.

April 30, 2019 9:49 am

“… scientifically linked to climate change”

They must mean “politically linked to presumed climate change”. Science has nothing to do with it.

April 30, 2019 10:16 am

Greta Thunberg should pay a visit to Chinese President. She can praise them how wonderful Green policies they are putting in place.

She can travel there using the natural power – on a sail ship. It takes couple weeks though. But what the heck – it’s completely carbon free. 🙂

April 30, 2019 10:27 am

Go to EIA .gov and look up what they say about how much natural gas does the US have and how long will it last.
Coal will still be a required energy source for a long time yet.

Rod Evans
April 30, 2019 10:35 am

Looking of the positive side. The fact China is going full steam (coal fired) ahead and has no intention of slowing its economic development, means the CO2 PPM will continue to rise and the climate will continue to ignore the CO2 increase.
In about ten years time, when the numbers are so compelling that even the Mann Made Climate Alarmists will see there is no connection between climate and CO2, maybe then some sanity will return to the world.
The rate of shouting and increased extremist activity from the Greens/Socialist over the past few months trying to get some public attention, suggests even they realise they are loosing traction.
Let the COGS lead by example. Let them stop using any fossil fuel and stop using any oil based products.
I would give them just two days, before they realised how stupid their anti fossil fuel policies are.
Then again, it isn’t anything to do with climate is it?
Just two days!

Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 10:51 am

I don’t think that is correct. You can get oil from coal, but not gas.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 11:08 am

Town gas in the UK was made form coal IIRC until natural gas came online in the 1970’s.

David Chappell
Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 30, 2019 4:43 pm

Indeed, and it was alternatively known as coal gas. I remember when I was a child there were houses that were still lit by gas.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 11:22 am

As a chemical process it’s fairly simple to get methane from coal. As an engineering and economic matter, it’s pretty difficult to do so cost-effectively if you have a reasonable source of natural gas from wells. If the Chinese Communists want to show off to the Warmunists, and don’t want to buy natural gas from Russian wells, then those considerations make coal gasification more reasonable.

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  Kemaris
May 1, 2019 10:45 am

People need to look up the company Arq, to see what they are doing with coal. Instead of liquefaction, they are essentially grinding it into incredibly tiny particles (something like the toner in a laser printer’s toner cartridge). They end up with a purified product that can be added directly to oil.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 11:41 am


Syngas has a lot of industrial applications, including direct heating energy for electricity, smelting, Portland cement production, and fertilizer production.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 11:59 am

gas lighting from coal started in London in 1804, the work of Albert Winsor. My great aunt still used Gas lighting in London in 1963, the year of the great smoking. The downside was Carbon Monoxide, preferred method of suicide amongst the poor until the conversion to natural gas in the 70’s.
I remember the conversion well.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 30, 2019 12:11 pm

I think you underestimate the fraud market taking in investors wherever it can find (sucker) them…..

Berndt Koch
April 30, 2019 11:05 am

Building Coal fired electricity generation, creating low lying islands just above current sea level, “we will reduce our emissions, in a few years, honest we will… honest..”

I’m pretty sure China hasn’t bought into the whole CO2 thing and are laughing their asses off at the western world.. either that or they are part of the plan to help the West commit suicide..

April 30, 2019 11:07 am

According to Rod Adams, there’s an under-reported story about China having a new modular reactor that can be retrofitted to its coal plants:

Joel O'Bryan
April 30, 2019 11:34 am

China is funding these with its BRI two reasons:

– The World Bank won’t fund coal power projects, which is the only way to jump start many of these 3rd World countries on the path to full electrification.

– China can use BRI as debt trap to capture those 3rd World countries in a snare, force them to hand over ports and mineral resources as collateral for the loans. Then when they default on the loans, China seizes the assets and furthers its colonial objectives.

Sri Lanka was the first. It lost control of one of its ports becasue of a BRI loan default.
Kenya my lose its Mombasa port as well to China’s control due to a loan default.
Ecuador and Venezuela have borrowed heavily from China. Ecuador built a useless, cracking hydro-electric dam next to a volcano with the money, and now has to send most of its oil production to China to pay it back. Venezuela has borrowed heavily from China to stay afloat, and when Maduro is finally ousted, the new government will have to deal with paying that back to China in oil shipments.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 30, 2019 12:52 pm

Is it possible that the West is funding China’s BRI, by outsourcing our Industry there and allowing China to use those profits to undermine us….or is that circular reasoning?

April 30, 2019 1:00 pm

China . . . has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change.

Word salad, devoid of meaning.

Smart Rock
April 30, 2019 1:41 pm

China, known as the world’s biggest polluter, has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change

“China, known as the world’s biggest polluter, has been taking dramatic steps to clean up and fight climate change

Fixed that! I suspect that Steve and Ashley at NPR don’t know the difference between air pollution and CO2. Which wouldn’t be at all surprising, given that the puppet masters have a vested interest in concatenating the two to help in keeping the public alarmed.

Reply to  Smart Rock
April 30, 2019 5:24 pm

China will eventually clean up coal… but just enough so that they can breathe again.

Coal “scrubbing” has only a small effect on CO2 emissions…it makes CO2 emissions slightly WORSE due to the energy costs of scrubbing. NPR is lying here when it implies that China will use coal in a CO2 responsible way…soon. THERE IS NO economical way to do that…and NPR knows it. It’s a deliberate lie.

Why lie in this case?

Our leftist press cannot run one news story without lying or politically slanting fragments of truth. It’s all Propaganda Press: NPR, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and all the big newspapers (dying… but not fast enough). Their liberal audiences require FAKE NEWS to be happy. Hearing the truth would cause their audiences to have “cognitive dissonance” seizures en masse.

China’s CO2 emissions will continue to accelerate (not just rise) for a few more decades…then level off around 2060 (if their nuclear program keeps pace).

Combine these emissions with those from India and Southeast Asia, and global CO2 emissions in 2050 will be well above 2 times current levels.

NPR is behaving like a collection of useful idiots (the Authoritarian Socialist type useful idiots). If NPR really believes that China cares about CC/CAGW they are CLUELESS idiots as well.

April 30, 2019 2:36 pm

After 30 years, why isn’t there a consensus on how much warming CO2 causes?

David Chappell
Reply to  Robber
April 30, 2019 4:48 pm

Because CO2 does not cause warming, perhaps?

Reply to  David Chappell
May 1, 2019 2:45 am

Yes, that is so far the only consensus from all citizens of the world.

May 1, 2019 11:12 am

China is replacing huge numbers of dirty old coal plants with more efficient and less polluting coal plants, primarily to deal with pollution.

China has been reducing the share of coal in electrcity generation for some years now:

European and US per capita CO2 emissions are 2-3 times higher than Chinese.

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