Last week my six-year-old son came home from school crying. He claimed he had been ‘scammed’ by the school because he had failed to win a prize in an Easter raffle. In his view he had paid to enter, so he should have got something in exchange!
An easy trap for young players but we have no such excuse if we continue to fall for China’s climate scam.
Just like my son, we are being asked to ‘pay’ with the hope that we can win the prize of a cooler planet. But we may get nothing but lost jobs if we continue to blind ourselves to China’s continuing use of coal.
Some are waking up. Another schoolchild, Greta Thunberg, tweeted last month that “In 2020, China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation, more than three times what was brought on line everywhere else”. To put that in context, 38 gigawatts is double the output of all of Australia’s coal fired power stations.
Greta is right. A recent report by the Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found that construction approvals for coal fired power stations in China have tripled to 36.9 gigawatts, five times more than what is planned outside of China.
But a lot is planned elsewhere too. A report earlier this year found that Africa is likely to double the amount of coal and gas power it generates over the next decade. Around 700 million people in Africa lack access to electricity.
China last year committed to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 but you should always watch what people do, not what they say.
As Galina Alova, researcher at the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment puts it: “There is a prominent narrative in the energy planning community that (Africa) will be able to take advantage of its vast renewable energy resources and rapidly decreasing clean technology prices to leapfrog to renewables by 2030 - but our analysis shows that overall it is not currently positioned to do so.”
At least India is honest. India’s climate negotiator, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, recently told the Hindustan Times that committing to net zero emissions would impose “astronomical costs at a time when the economy is already reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
He stated that any net zero emissions pledge should “not bind us to it individually”.
Because countries like India and China, and whole continents like Africa, are pursuing development over de-industrialisation demand for our coal is increasing. That is why Malcolm Turnbull tweeted last week that there is a “surge in new coal mine proposals in NSW”.
Malcolm was tweeting in support of a moratorium on new coal mines - a stance that cost him a job with the NSW government this week. But Malcolm and many others claim that demand for coal is declining but that can’t be so if there is surge in new proposals.
If we shut down our great coal industry just while other countries are increasing their demand for coal, we will be scammed by China as bad as a six-year-old. We just won’t have the excuse of being a young player.