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WSJ: US Emissions Cuts Will be ‘Swamped’ by Indian and Chinese Growth

Essay by Eric Worrall

h/t M; China’s new coal capacity since Chinese Premier Xi Jinping signed the Paris Agreement almost matches the USA’s total coal capacity.

China’s Coal Power Boom

Beijing is building more coal-fired capacity than the rest of the world combined, U.S. climate lectures notwithstanding.

By The Editorial Board
Sept. 12, 2022 6:26 pm ET

An unspoken truth of the climate-change crusade is this: Anything the U.S. does to reduce emissions won’t matter much to global temperatures. U.S. cuts will be swamped by the increases in India, Africa and especially China. Look no further than China’s boom in new coal-fired electricity.

S&P Global Commodity Insights recently estimated that China is planning or building coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of at least 100 gigawatts. Those are merely the projects whose development status is confirmed, so the real number is almost certainly higher. Total U.S. power capacity is some 1,147 gigawatts. One gigawatt is enough energy to power as many as 770,000 homes.

Since China signed the Paris pact, its coal-fired power capacity has increased by some 185 gigawatts, S&P Global Commodity Insights estimated earlier this summer. The U.S. has decreased its coal capacity by about 80 gigawatts since late 2015. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in January that U.S. operational coal capacity was 209.6 gigawatts.

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China has more industrial capacity than the United States. It is only a matter of time until this advantage becomes a major geopolitical issue.

China is attempting to convert that industrial capacity advantage into military superiority, with admittedly mixed results – but they won’t stay incompetent in the military sphere forever.

For now, the USA still has a chance to play industrial capacity catchup, by pursuing Trump like energy and economic policies. But that opportunity is rapidly slipping away.

This failure to keep up will eventually have real consequences. For example, China is currently staying out of the Ukraine conflict. But what if they decide to get more involved? China’s immense industrial capacity could be used to provide a level of supply to Russian forces, and any Chinese “volunteers” who travel to the front lines, that the USA and Western powers would struggle to match. The Chinese learn fast – any battlefield technology gap would rapidly close, if China committed to helping Russia win. Even worse, the US military is dependent on Chinese components. It is possible if China stopped supplies, there would be a period of months, if not years, during which the USA would find it difficult to respond to a Chinese escalation, once current military stocks were exhausted.