World’s Worst Polluter China Demands Leadership at Climate Summit

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a footbridge in heavy smog in Handan city, north China's Hebei province, 2 January 2017. Heavy smog in northern China caused hundreds of flights to be canceled and highways to shut on Sunday (1 January 2017), disrupting the first day of the New Year …
Imaginechina via AP Images

The Chinese delegation to the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt demanded a leadership role on Tuesday, despite China being far and away the worst polluter in the world, and its most voracious consumer of carbon-spewing coal power.

China’s state-run Global Times quoted the Chinese delegation telling COP27 to admire Beijing’s commitment to expansive bureaucracy – a vital skill for those who would mummify the industries of mankind in red tape to save the Earth – and think about all the coal China could have burned, if it really wanted to:

Climate change is a common challenge faced by all mankind. China attaches great importance to addressing the issue, and has implemented a national strategy to actively respond to climate change and unswervingly pursuing a green and low-carbon development path, Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment leading the Chinese delegation at the conference, said at a side meeting on Tuesday.

To achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, China has set up a special working group and issued implementation plans for key areas including energy, industry and transportation, and completed the construction of the “1+N” policy system of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, Zhao said.

Zhao noted that in the past decade, China’s annual energy consumption growth rate of 3 percent supported an average economic growth rate of 6.6 percent, carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP decreased by about 34.4 percent, energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased by 26.4 percent, and achieved a cumulative saving of 1.4 billion tons of standard coal.

Zhao also touted China’s eagerness to participate in “carbon emissions trading markets,” having established one in China in July 2021, and hinted no worldwide carbon market could amount to much without the participation of the coal-gobbling Chinese Communists.

“China has maintained good communication and cooperation with the United Nations and international financial institutions to actively address climate change,” he added.

China has made some progress on pollution relative to itself, but still leads the world in generating pollutants and purported climate change emissions – despite spirited competition from India, which managed to shroud its capital of New Delhi with an even thicker toxic cloud than Beijing’s.

China takes a back seat to no one when it comes to digging, importing, and burning coal and its coal consumption has only increased while Communist officials speak of cutting back someday. In September, the Chinese launched a new rail line to haul even more coal from Mongolia, along with other mineral resources. Beijing makes no secret of its intention to increase carbon emissions for at least a decade to come, after which the usually irascible climate change movement has been remarkably trusting that the authoritarian regime will snap its fingers and become instantaneously “carbon neutral.”

China was so defiant about burning coal and so callous about sweeping aside inconvenient promises it previously made, that it actually came in for a bit of criticism at the previous COP summit. After the Chinese made it clear they would tolerate none of the hectoring climate activists direct at Western countries, the activists generally went back to assuming Beijing only needs to burn mountains of coal for a few more years, and will keep its promises to decarbonize in 2030 or 2050.

From an empirical standpoint, giving China a leadership role in climate change would be an absurd travesty. From a political and ideological standpoint, climate activists are increasingly clear about their antipathy to capitalism, because they believe only authoritarian governments can force their citizens to make the sacrifices needed to hit zero emissions, so crowning China leader of the movement would make a good deal of sense.


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