Don’t Upset China, Say Greens

By Paul Homewood


Roger Harrabin talks to his green chums, and comes away more confused than ever!





China will be urged at the UN next week to speed up the timetable for curbing its planet-heating carbon emissions.

It will be nudged by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who’s experiencing climate pressure himself from activists blocking motorways.

But is the UK, with its world-leading emissions targets, the right target for demonstrators?

China produces 28% of global emissions and the UK just 1%. So shouldn’t they be picketing the Chinese embassy instead of the M25 motorway?

On the face of it, that seems a reasonable question. And some veteran activists would indeed support a well-judged China protest – we’ll come to that later.

But when I initially asked the radical green group Extinction Rebellion (XR) if they had considered demonstrating against China, it triggered a furious response.

An XR member tweeted accusing me of perpetuating anti-Chinese racist stereotypes and failing to report climate change properly.

Why so vitriolic?

Well, there are two reasons. The first is practical: climate campaigning groups like Greenpeace and WWF have offices in Beijing and if they rattle China too hard, they could be swiftly closed down.

The second reason touches a sore spot on the geopolitical history of climate change. For the purposes of climate negotiations, China has been regarded as a developing country because major industrialisation occurred from the mid-20th Century – after some other countries.

Picketing the Chinese embassy would ostensibly transfer blame for the current crisis on to Beijing – while easing pressure for carbon cuts in historically wealthy nations such as the UK.

That’s exactly what some newspaper columnists want.

Rich countries caused most warming

But it runs counter to global climate diplomacy, which acknowledges that it’s rich countries with a longer history of industrialisation that have caused most of the warming so far.

What’s more, much of the CO2 on China’s carbon accounts is created by manufacturing stuff that Western consumers buy.

So much stronger action from Beijing is certainly essential to prevent global heating getting even worse. But to be fair, China’s not quite as blameworthy as it seems.

And so it goes in a similar vein for an interminably long time!


Overall his green buddies argue that:

  • China will shut us down if we make trouble
  • If we do protest, it will into those wicked right wingers’ hands
  • The West is really to blame for making the world so much richer
  • It’s not really China’s fault, because we buy their goods.

The consensus seems to be that we all wave a few banners, in the naive hope that China will cut its emissions in half next year.

I’m sorry, but I am obviously under a misapprehension here!

I thought this was all about saving the planet, not playing silly little green political games.

Obviously we are not heading for a climate apocalypse after all!


September 19, 2021 at 05:18AM

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