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Anything China can do …

Issues Climate

Tom Belford21 October 2020

Wouldn’t it be ‘cool’ to see China and a Biden Administration get into a fierce competition to lower their greenhouse gas emissions?!

The current worst offender against the historic worst offender! King Kong vs Godzilla.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced China would aim for “carbon neutrality” by 2060 and a CO2 emissions peak before 2030. By comparison, NZ is presently aiming for net zero by 2050, but is off course.

Already, credible scenarios have been presented as to how China could meet such a massive commitment. In autocratic China, experience indicates that if the political will exists, the technical and physical implementation will follow.

As summarised in a recent Nature article, here’s the scale of change required, at the centre of which would be producing virtually all of China’s electricity from renewable sources:

“Electricity production would need to more than double, to 15,034 terawatt hours by 2060, largely from clean sources … This growth would be driven by a massive ramp-up of renewable electricity generation over the next 40 years, including a 16-fold increase in solar and a 9-fold increase in wind. To replace coal-fired power generation, nuclear power would need to increase sixfold, and hydroelectricity to double.

“Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas, would still account for 16% of energy consumed, so would need to be paired with CCS (carbon capture and storage) or offset by new forest growth and technologies that can suck CO2 directly out of the atmosphere.”

Coal-fired power generates almost 65% of the country’s electricity, and more than 200 new coal-fired power stations are planned or under construction. Apart from the industries that would need to convert from coal, China would need to contend with some 3.5 million workers in the coal mining and power industry. But then ‘HR management’ is a China strong suit!

Here in NZ, to make serious progress on emissions, the incoming Labour Government need only overcome the Automobile Association (who opposes fuel efficiency standards for the petrol cars most of us drive, let alone a gradual ban on ICE imports … China’s scenario presumes 100% EVs) and Federated Farmers (who opposes mostly anything progressive).

 

 

Tom Belford21 October 2020

One response to “Anything China can do …”

  1. Dan Elderkamp says:

    I fear Tom that what the world as a whole is doing to mitigate or halt climate change and global warming will be too little, too late. We’re too distracted by toys and baubles to want to make any real changes to our cosy lifestyles, and the government will be too focussed on placating it’s new-found supporters too risk any paradigm shifts in thinking, let alone action. Regrettably, a paradigm shift is what we desperately need, and much, much sooner than most people are willing to consider. The science is clear, but the world is fiddling away to itself while Rome burns (or should that be flooding?). It would be interesting to find out if the government is make any concrete plans to cope with, say, rising sea levels? And what will be, soon enough, the flood of climate refugees from low-lying island countries like Kiribati and Tokelau, amongst others? NZ has a golden opportunity to show leadership on the world stage, as we’ve done many times before. Doing nothing and finger-pointing at others as an excuse just won’t hack it anymore.

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