The Chinese Communist Party has been pressuring the United States to abandon its criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and join the international infrastructure project.
California heeded that call on Thursday by sending Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis to the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, where she planned to “talk about climate change and urge participants to prioritize the issue and consider how the Belt and Road Initiative can drive positive action for this global threat.”
The South China Morning Post hilariously chose to illustrate its article on Kounalakis’ speech to a global-warming panel at the Belt and Road forum with a photo of smog-shrouded Chinese smokestacks belching pollution into the sky, above the caption: “The U.S. politician praised China’s efforts to set up an emissions trading scheme to help tackle its notorious pollution problem.”
“What China has attempted to do is no small feat. When fully operational, China will have the largest emission trading market in the world,” Kounalakis gushed about the Chinese plan.
According to Kounalakis, California has signed “several memorandums of understanding” with China and “built up a partnership based on the shared principle of fighting climate change.”
“In September last year, China and California held a three-day summit in San Francisco to discuss the issue with the endorsement of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent a personal message of support to the governor at the time, Jerry Brown,” the SCMP reported.
China is the “world’s coal juggernaut,” as the New York Times (NYT) pointed out in January, and it cheerfully ignores any and all pledges it makes to reduce pollution at its convenience, secure in the knowledge no California politician or climate change activist group will grow vocally upset with it.
As the NYT explained, China has immense coal reserves and a huge appetite for electricity. The Chinese government does not even live up to its own internal regulations for reducing emissions, never mind what it promises to gullible Westerners at international meetings. Chinese methane emissions actually increased tremendously between 2010 and 2015, even as the “climate change” movement was swooning over Beijing’s eco-sensitivity.
Coal consumption continued to grow in 2017 and 2018 at a slightly slower pace than the big boom in the first half of the decade. China is also busy building coal plants in other countries, offsetting much of its domestic restraint and becoming the world’s leading financier of coal projects.
The Belt and Road Initiative is unquestionably exporting pollution and carbon emissions throughout Asia and especially Africa. All of this is being done despite the express wishes of citizens in Belt and Road countries for cleaner energy in polls amusingly described as “wake-up calls” for authoritarian China and the cash-hungry ruling elites of its partner nations.
A few BRI projects have been scuttled due to environmental concerns, but energy costs are rising in China and the math behind BRI is shaky enough as it is. China’s current plans call for developing between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by the end of the next decade and it has a habit of quietly restarting dirty projects after collecting Green accolades for shutting them down. Beijing will not jeopardize the entire project to placate environmentalists. It knows it does not have to.
China’s state-run Global Times on Friday used the Belt and Road Forum as an opportunity to urge the United States to set aside its criticisms of the initiative and join in:
Ever since it kicked off six years ago, the BRI has always welcomed the US to join. It was the US that has refused to accept the BRI and has attempted to forge ideological opposition to it.
Although the US government has intentionally ignored the benefits that the BRI could bring to US’ companies, American entrepreneurs are keeping a clear head. According to the South China Morning Post, the US industrial giant General Electric has partnered with Chinese companies to tap the business potential via the land and maritime Silk Road initiative. Moreover, CNBC reported American companies like Honeywell, Chubb, and Waters had looked at the BRI as an opportunity for business growth.
As the world’s second largest economy, China is willing to lend a hand to other countries in jointly progressing via cooperation. In a sense, conceptually, China has slipped “itself into American clothing which the US itself has discarded,” Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, told the Voice of America. The US hasn’t done pragmatic things to promote global economic growth and has opposed the world’s joint development. This, in turn, let China become mainstream as “a leader of the global development system.”
If Washington still claims itself the leader of the world, if it wants to benefit more from the global growth and keep its leading status, if it wants to make the initiative operate conform to the US’ rules, joining BRI as soon as possible is the best way.
The Global Times modestly allowed that BRI “has inevitably encountered various flaws” and risibly insisted all of them have been “adjusted and improved,” which is not even true of BRI’s environmental impact, let alone the very salient U.S. concerns about Chinese political subversion and debt colonialism.
From the standpoint of sincere and honest environmentalists, if they truly believe what they say about industrial emissions and climate change, BRI will greatly increase the “carbon footprint” of a combined population vastly larger than that of the United States, and the effect will be much larger than any reduction the U.S. could conceivably achieve under even the most outrageously expensive proposals. They should be fiercely opposed to a plan they supposedly believe will destroy the entire planet in less than a single human generation.