August 31, 2020

China Must Change Policies If World Wants To Address Climate Change

A new analysis by MSCI’s partners at the Energy and Equipment Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), an association for suppliers of construction, equipment, materials, and services for energy production and infrastructure, shows that “unless China, India and other major emitters in Asia, Africa and Latin America also take serious action now to reduce” carbon dioxide, anything North American governments do to reduce emissions “will do little to change the path of global climate change.”

In fact, the United States already is leading the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions by switching from coal to natural gas and adding renewables, the EEIA said.

In the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019, for example, U.S. coal generation declined an additional 30 percent, while gas power rose nine percent and renewables rose five percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. EEIA says the United States’ progress shows that climate change is a global, not national, phenomenon, and is driven by cumulative global emissions. China, India, and other Asian countries continue to add high-emitting coal plants while the United States and Europe continue to decommission the shrinking number that remain. Indeed, from January 2018 to June 2019, countries outside of China decreased their total coal power capacity by 8.1 GigaWatts (GW), while China increased its coal fleet by 42.9 GW.

And that is just the beginning.

China currently has 206 GW of coal generating capacity in planning or under construction. That is more that the total number being built in the rest of the world combined, and will add to China’s 1,000 GW capacity already in operation. By comparison, total U.S. coal generating capacity is 229 GW and declining rapidly. Total U.S coal-fired output declined 16 percent in 2019 to just under one million GW hours, the lowest level since 1976, while natural gas generation grew eight percent to 1.6 million GW hours. The U.S. hasn’t built a new coal plant since 2015. Additionally, though China does not publish data on electric generating output from coal, it does estimate coal capacity utilization is at about 50 percent. That means that its 1,000 GW  plus of coal capacity generated at least 4.4 million GW hours in 2019, more than four times more than the United States’.

The EEIA says if advocates “want to make a real difference in climate change, they will direct their passions” toward Chinese policies.