Claim: China’s Covid-19 Recovery is Not Green Enough

Despite recent promises by President Xi Jinping that China has embraced firm CO2 targets, analysts are concerned that China still appears to be investing a lot of capital into expanding fossil fuel capacity.

Is China’s post-pandemic recovery off the green track?

Recent data and local government moves have raised concerns that China’s post-pandemic recovery will not be green enough, but one high-level policy maker emphasises China’s policy continuity.

Shi Yi 
December 18, 2020

In September, the Chinese province of Hubei – where the first outbreak of Covid-19 occurred – announced 90 billion yuan (about US$14 billion) of investment in the coal, electricity, oil and gas sectors over the next three years. Provincial bosses described the move as intended to “promote the post-pandemic recovery and high-quality development”. In October, work started in Guizhou on a 5.6-billion-yuan coal power plant, which planning documents say will create about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Because of Covid-19 China’s carbon emissions dropped 11% in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period last year. But emissions grew in the second quarter, up 5.4% year-on-year in May as the economy recovered. That trend continued after June. An earlier analysis by China Dialogue found that investment in traditional infrastructure was driving second quarter GDP growth – and creating emissions concerns.

Jorrit Gosens and Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University have said China’s recovery plan is no “Green New Deal”. Although this is the first year China has not set a target for economic growth – indicating it will not, as it has in the past, pursue growth at any environmental cost – funding is still flowing to fossil fuels, while there is little support for renewable energy to report.

Lauri Myllyvirta, chief analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, has said that eight major energy-producing and consuming provinces in East China are planning to invest trillions in fossil fuels – three times as much as in low-carbon energy. “The ‘major project lists’ continue the policies and investment patterns of previous years,” Myllyvirta told China Dialogue. “These patterns are far from green – energy sector investment is still dominated by fossil fuel projects.”

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Its almost like most politicians in China don’t care about CO2.

No doubt Xi Jinping will soon set things straight, by ensuring regional Chinese governments re-align their spending priorities with the climate plans Xi Jinping recently announced.

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Ron Long
December 19, 2020 6:08 am

Right on, Eric. And to top it off China bans high-quality clean coal from Australia (see below) and instead burns low-quality dirty coal produced internally. Other than the Bidens who believes anything these commies say?

December 19, 2020 6:40 am

Doesn’t low-quality coal have higher particulate pollution rates?

Just askin’, because when I was six, the roads weren’t plowed out unless you were in a city (we weren’t), and crushed cinders were used to make roads drivable. All the freight and passenger trains ran on coal, so we “kids” would go down to the railroad tracks and wave at the engineers as the trains went by, and they’d wave back. And we knew when the trains were coming because we could see the smoke from the stacks way ahead of hearing the trains coming down the rails.
Now the trains are all on diesel, emissions seem quite low by comparison, and sometimes, the trains are so long that it takes six engines to haul that freight.

Climate believer
December 19, 2020 7:05 am

Jorrit Gosens and Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University have said China’s recovery plan is no “Green New Deal”. 

errrr… ya thunk.

The current “Green New Deal” experiment going on there right now is cold and dark.

Joel O’Bryan
December 19, 2020 7:31 am

It’s almost as if China and its commie leaders understands that domestic energy security is a vital part of a national security strategy. Funny that.

December 19, 2020 8:18 am

That’s because they’ve got a billion too many people still.

December 19, 2020 9:51 am

Because of Covid-19 China’s carbon emissions dropped 11% in the first quarter of 2020
That explains the huge drop in co2 at Mona Loa Observatory. NOT

December 19, 2020 10:33 am

China is building 40 1 GW plus nuclear reactors within the next 5 years and has plans for hundreds more. Those 40 reactors can produce the same amount of power as 80,000 3MW wind turbines, requiring at least 160,000 acres of land.
China does not like wind power – it has banned support for same for several years. China describes wind power as “disruptive” of the power grid.

Reply to  ColMosby
December 19, 2020 12:23 pm

The Guardian hasn’t noticed that.

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