Will China Be a World Leader on Climate Change (YouTube video)?

Just thought I’d share this, though unsure if anyone will bother watching. It’s from one of the channels I follow, China Uncensored, and discusses the view that China is going to be the new leader in clean energy…and why that narrative glosses over why that probably won’t happen nor is it realistic. The too long and didn’t watch version is basically that China has too much of a vested interest, especially wrt the party, in continued economic growth and that corruption is pretty much rampant and systemic in China. Yes, they are investing a lot in renewables (like many other countries are), but there is no way that those are going to supplant coal in China or even take a dent out of China’s massive carbon footprint. Their economic downturn has had more effect on this than renewables will. Plus, China is helping many African nations build…yup, coal-fired power plants using Chinese designs. According to the video, over half of the new coal plants in Africa are being built and funded by China.

That was an interesting video with info I hadn’t heard before.

I do consider China to be a/the world leader on climate change for 3 reasons:

  1. China invests over $100 billion a year in renewable energy. Global spending is only about $300 billion, so China’s spending is 1/3 of global total and is creating a huge market for renewable technology. This huge market will drive down costs and drive up quality (providers improve to meet a large market). However $300 billion a year is still less than 1/2 of 1% of global GDP.

  2. China is manufacturing renewable tech (like solar panels) cheaper and cheaper, which also will drive up demand by making the tech more cost competitive with other sources.

  3. China is investing more and more into R&D, so that instead of just the US & EU pioneering research into renewable energy tech, it will be the US, EU & China all investing into R&D to make renewable and clean energy cheaper and better.

Having said that, in the US we moved away from coal heavily in the last decade due to the growth of cheap natural gas. Why has this not happened in Africa and China? Are they not seeing the cheap natural gas we are seeing in the US? Natural gas produces 1/2 the CO2 per BTU produced as coal, it is also as far as I know cleaner so fewer heavy metals dumped into the atmosphere which can poison people. Americas share of energy generation from coal went from about 48% in 2008 down to about 32% now. Much of the slack was picked up by natural gas growth and non hydro renewable growth.

Also Africa doesn’t have grid infrastructure. And even if it does, it seems like it would be vulnerable due to weak rule of law in many places. Solar power plus batteries seems like the safer bet if they can do them affordably. But I don’t know if it is affordable yet. Africa totally bypassed landline phones and went straight to cell phones. I would hope they do the same with energy and bypass power plants and power lines and go straight to locally produced power and battery technology.