By Paul Homewood
What has been the outcome so far of Joe Biden’s video climate summit? Not much according to WSJ:
China and India, both with huge and growing appetites for energy, will play outsize roles in efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions as the world seeks to come up with more ambitious targets on climate change.
The two countries are similar in many ways. They have massive populations topping 1.3 billion, and both are heavy users of coal, the worst fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions. China alone consumed more than half of the world’s coal in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency. India is currently a distant No. 2 with 11% of the global share, but its share is expected to rise to around 14% by 2030.
Both countries’ leaders, who have signalled they don’t want to be seen as acting at the behest of the U.S., argued at the virtual two-day climate summit hosted by the White House, which began Thursday, that their nations should shoulder different responsibilities than developed nations in the fight against climate change.
But there are also significant differences in their approaches. While India defines itself as a developing country with a longer timeline for reducing emissions and as a potential recipient of money and technology to help, China increasingly wants to position itself as a climate leader and a provider of technological and financial support.
“China and India are among the world’s biggest emitters, so without them it will be impossible to achieve the Paris Agreement,” said Byford Tsang, a London-based senior policy adviser at E3G, a think tank that advocates for strategies to reduce carbon emissions.
In China’s case, he said, the question isn’t whether the country can reach its own goals but whether it can do what is needed to keep the temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius, a goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
China will reduce coal consumption starting in 2026, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the summit. He also reiterated his pledge from September that China would reach peak carbon emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality—net-zero carbon-dioxide emissions—by 2060 [yeah, right …].
But he stopped short of promising a carbon-emissions cap, as some climate campaigners had hoped. Mr. Xi “obviously did not want to make any big announcement under U.S. pressure,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a new partnership with the U.S. to expand renewable energy. He didn’t add another climate goal or upgrade India’s existing ones. “We in India are doing our part,” said Mr. Modi.
Developing countries want richer countries to make good on pledges from the Paris climate negotiations to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private financing to aid the effort. Top Indian officials made financial support among their top requests to John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, when he visited this month.
India has already reduced its carbon intensity—or how much carbon dioxide is emitted per unit of gross domestic product—by 26% versus 2005 levels, India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, said at an April speech sponsored by the French Embassy in India. “We all have to act,” he said. “But those who have polluted have to act more.”
Under its current policies, India’s carbon emissions will rise 50% by 2040, the IEA forecasts. That is more than any other country for which the IEA did projections, and is enough to cancel out the forecast fall in emissions from all of Europe.
In 2019, China had 9.8 billion tons of carbon emissions. The country’s climate scientists expect emissions to plateau at 10.5 billion tons, based on China’s current policies.
Mr. Xi also said that China would “strictly control coal-fired power generation projects” as well as “strictly limit the increase in coal consumption” through 2025 before starting to reduce it over the following five years.
This leaves room for China to further increase coal consumption in the next four years. China proposed 73.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired power last year, more than five times as much as the rest of the world combined. In 2020, coal supplied nearly 57% of China’s energy, according to China’s statistics bureau. […]
India has already greenlighted around 100 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants, although fewer than two-thirds are under construction and some may never get off the ground, analysts say, since they increasingly have to compete with cheaper solar.
Mr. Modi also repeated India’s target to build 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030—around 60% of its power-generation capacity. The government is also encouraging companies to push into electric vehicles and battery production.
China, too, plans to increase its solar and wind power to over 1,200 gigawatts by 2030, more than double the amount presently in place.
Let’s summarise what China has promised (or not promised!) first:
- No carbon cap (emissions are estimated to peak at 10.5bn tonnes)
- Start to reduce coal consumption after 2026.
- 1200 GW of wind and solar power by 2030.
- No mention of any emission targets going forward, other than the 2060 “Carbon Neutrality” promise.
China’s emissions were 9.2bn tonnes in 2015, so this implies a rise of 14% before they peak. Is it likely that they will fall rapidly after 2030?
Wind and solar capacity is currently 413 GW, and it would seem likely that most of the increase to 1200 GW will come from solar. We can therefore deduce that wind and solar will be supplying roughly 1200 TWh in 2030. This equates to 16% of current power generation, but with demand rising by about 4% annually, this figure will come down to just 11%.
As we have seen every year lately, thermal power increases each year to meet rising demand, which renewables alone cannot meet. Although nuclear power capacity may be increased, the planned increase in renewable output simply cannot meet rising power demand, unless the economy grinds to a halt.
In other words, Xi’s promise to start reducing coal consumption after 2026 does not stack up, unless it is as a result of the new breed of highly efficient (HELE) coal power stations. Either way, any reduction in coal use is likely to be tiny.
The clue lies in that eia graph above, which projects that the amount of coal and gas power generation will remain flat through to 2040. At best, rising low carbon generation does no more than meet growing demand.
I may be wrong, but surely China would be setting clear, verifiable targets of reductions in coal use and emissions if they were in any way serious.
Then we come to India, where we can expect
- Emissions to rise by 50% by 2040, which will take them above current EU emissions
- No new commitment regarding emissions or other climate goals
- 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030.
Again, we need to appreciate how tiny these apparently large numbers really are, That 450 GW of renewable capacity will produce something like 150 TWh, which is less than a tenth of current generation, never mind the much higher level in ten years time.
The Indian government knows full well that it cannot run its economy on unreliable wind and solar power. Hence the need for more and more reliable generation.
Once again we hear the fake claims from so-called experts that “cheap” solar power will stop a lot of the new coal power capacity from coming on stream. The Indians know better, and have worked out that such comparisons are meaningless – solar power can never replace reliable generation.
And as with China, it is no coincidence that Modi is not prepared to firmly commit to any actual targets for emission reductions. To both India and China, such emissions are secondary to the first priority, which is economic growth.
Underlying all of this game playing is, of course, that $100 billion a year, promised by the rich countries back in 2009 in Copenhagen. As long as this is still on the table, China, India and the rest of the developing world will still appear to play along with the West’s game.
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
April 23, 2021 at 04:03PM