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David Rose Exposes China’s Obsession With Coal

September 25, 2021

By Paul Homewood



A powerful report from David Rose on China:



The billowing clouds of steam and smoke are visible from miles away. As night falls and the lights turn the sky neon bright as far as the eye can see, the chimneys keep remorselessly pumping out their toxic fumes.

This is the Ningdong Energy and Chemical Industry Base, one of the biggest industrial complexes in the world.

Sprawling in semi-desert far to the west of Beijing, it covers an area so vast — 341 square miles, more than two thirds the size of Los Angeles — it is almost unimaginable.

Much of The Base, as it is known locally, is home to mines, which produce 130 million metric tonnes of coal a year — about the same as the annual total dug from all 233 deep mines still in use in Britain when coal was our biggest energy source in the 1970s.

The coal — the most polluting of all fossil fuels — is fed into an array of huge power stations at the complex, which have the capacity to generate 17.3 gigawatts. That would be enough to satisfy a third of the UK’s peak demand for electricity.

Also to be found at The Base are 32 companies that use coal to make chemicals, so generating still more carbon pollution.

And on top of all this is the showpiece: the world’s largest coal-to-liquid (CTL) plant, run by the state-owned Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group.

Simply burning coal is dirty enough, producing more carbon dioxide than any other method of generating electricity — almost twice as much as burning natural gas. But making oil from coal is far worse: it can double the amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere from every unit of energy.

Yet China’s Shenhua group — now restructured as part of China Energy — has been investing heavily in this hugely polluting CTL plant.

No Western journalist has ever been allowed to visit the site. But in 2017 a Chinese researcher, Xing Zhang, was given a tour by the firm’s vice chairman, Dr Yao Min.

Her findings, written up in a blog for the International Energy Agency (IEA), revealed that Shenhua had by then invested 55 billion yuan — or £6.2 billion — in the CTL plant alone. Each year, the plant turns 20 million tonnes of coal into four million tonnes of oil products; 2.7 million tonnes of diesel; a million tonnes of naptha petroleum; and 340,000 tonnes of liquid gas.

And The Base is not China’s only large CTL plant. There are at least six others in the country that are already built or under construction — and China says it plans to build still more in nations where it has lavished investment, such as Pakistan

  • Yet The Base accounts for just a fraction of China’s coal dependency. Its coal power station fleet grew five-fold between 2000 and 2020, and now accounts for almost half the world’s consumption — more than three times its closest rival, the U.S. It is said to have 1,080 separate plants with a total capacity last year of 1,005 gigawatts — and is building more.

    Britain, in contrast, has just four coal-fuelled plants left, with a joint output of 5.4 gigawatts. This week, in his apocalyptic climate change speech to the United Nations, Boris Johnson urged China — by far the world’s worst emitter of greenhouse gases, producing as much as 28 per cent of the global total — to end its domestic use of coal.

    Mr Johnson is only too aware that if Cop26, the UN climate conference to be held in Glasgow in November, is not to be regarded as a dismal failure, China must be persuaded to make meaningful cuts in CO2 emissions.

    But far from carbon emissions slowing down in China, they are increasing ever more rapidly.

    This is a country with a mind-boggling pace of development. Between 2011 and 2013, China used more cement than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century. It produces almost 60 per cent of the world’s steel and its oil refinery capacity has tripled since 2000.

    Even though it promised last week to stop building coal power stations abroad, China continues to do just that at home. Last year, its coal-powered capacity rose by 38 gigawatts, while the rest of the world cut capacity by 17 gigawatts.

    China has a further 105 gigawatts of new coal capacity in the construction pipeline — more than the entire generating capacity of the UK from all sources, including nuclear and renewables.

    Last month, the Workers’ Daily reported that in coal-rich Inner Mongolia, 38 mothballed coal mines have been reopened, with an annual production of 60 million tonnes. Last year, Inner Mongolia dug up more than a billion tonnes of coal — and this did not even make it China’s biggest coal province: that honour belonged to Shanxi.

    China’s president, Xi Jinping, claimed last year that although Chinese emissions would keep rising until 2030, they would then reach their peak and decline, eventually reaching Net Zero by 2060 — ten years after Britain.

    But he has given few details on how this might be achieved, and there are ominous signs that he has no intention of keeping his word. When President Biden’s climate change envoy, John Kerry, went to Beijing this month to put pressure on the regime on carbon emissions, he was humiliated.

    Kerry was forced to hold his meetings via Zoom — he might as well have stayed in Washington — and China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, politicised the encounter, warning him that if America wanted China to talk seriously about emissions, it must first stop treating it as ‘a threat and a rival’.

    ‘Climate change cannot be separated from the larger People’s Republic of China–U.S. relations environment,’ Mr Wang added. By this, he meant China would not contemplate making new pledges on emissions if the U.S. continued to raise awkward issues such as the crushing of democracy in Hong Kong, the militarisation of the South China Sea and the enslavement of Muslim Uighurs.

    Alok Sharma, the UK minister in charge of Cop26, has admitted he doesn’t know whether President Xi will even show up at the event. An editorial in Chinese Communist newspaper the Global Times told Mr Sharma that if he wants the conference to succeed, he must not let it be ‘held hostage by U.S. political ideologues’.

    But while China obfuscates, we in Britain are cutting carbon emissions to the bone, inflicting deep harm on our economy.

    The dizzying rise in household bills, and the bankruptcy of so many gas companies, is part of the price we are paying for giving up coal in our rush towards green energy.

    As this newspaper reported last month, while we do our bit to slow climate change, it is estimated the cost of our transition to Net Zero will run into trillions of pounds.

    Yet even though Britain accounts for less than 1 per cent of global emissions — one 28th as much as China — we still treat the regime with kid gloves, arguing that China deserves leeway because it is still a ‘developing’ country.

    Even the eco-protesters blocking our motorways pay no attention to the fact China is pumping out pollution on an unprecedented scale.

    Last week, when a BBC reporter asked the group that spawned them, Extinction Rebellion, why they were not demonstrating outside the Chinese embassy, he was accused of ‘perpetuating anti-Chinese racist stereotypes’.

    Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which has members in 20 countries, told me this week that ‘governments across the free world have been utterly supine’.

    He added: ‘China may say their emissions will peak by 2030 but meanwhile they are building all the new coal-fired power stations they need, to do whatever they please.

    ‘Yet they are being let off the hook while other countries are being asked to step up to measures that will have an incalculable economic impact. China will watch while we collapse our economies and they become all-powerful.’

    Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB union, thousands of whose members have lost their jobs to Chinese competitors, puts it more succinctly: ‘We are importing virtue and exporting jobs.’

    Let us look at how emissions compare with Western countries. China’s total emissions have far outstripped America’s. Indeed, they amount to more than the rest of the developed world put together — although admittedly they are still lower by one measure: America still emits more per head of population.

    However, that ceased to be true of Britain in 2014 — and by 2018 China was well ahead, with 6.84 tonnes of CO2 emitted per capita, against 5.3 tonnes in Britain. To appreciate how fast China’s economy and emissions have grown, consider that in 1990 we emitted 9.6 tonnes per head and China just 1.84 tonnes.

    Since 2018, our emissions have continued to fall while China’s have increased. In total, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says, they have risen in China by 365 per cent since 1990. In the same period, Britain’s fell by 35 per cent.

    Two further indicators reveal how great the impact of cheap energy has been on China’s economy — and give the lie to the claim they are still a ‘developing country’ which deserves to be indulged.

    First, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere a long time, taking up to 200 years to be absorbed by the oceans. This means the emissions a country generates accumulate over time. The quantity of accumulated emissions reveals the degree to which China already dominates world manufacturing.

    From 1990 to 2019, China’s accumulated emissions amounted to 167 billion tonnes of CO2. Britain’s were just 14 billion tonnes.

    The second point is that the IEA, which produces this data, relies on figures supplied by the Chinese government — and many claim they are unreliable.

    In 2019, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post — then still a newspaper that could publish material critical of the Communist regime — reported that the Chinese environment ministry was ‘frequently presented with fake data and fabricated documents’, citing dozens of cases of fraud.

    ‘The party committee of Bozhou district in Zunyi, southern China, was found to have fabricated notes for ten meetings — part of the work requirement under the new environmental targets — in a bid to cheat the inspectors,’ the paper said.

    Which explains why some sources, including Carbon Brief (a green news service) and the Rhodium Group (a New York think-tank), say China’s emissions are far higher than those cited by the IEA.

    It is true that China is building wind and solar renewables. But their share of China’s energy mix remains negligible (see graph on previous page), while its coal, gas and oil use expand inexorably.

    There are those who say that, despite all this, we should trust China — and Xi’s promise that its emissions will start to fall and eventually reach Net Zero.

    Former U.S. vice president and green campaigner Al Gore is an enthusiastic advocate: ‘I think they will overachieve that goal,’ he gushed earlier this year. ‘They put out goals only when they are absolutely certain they can reach them, and they often overachieve.’

    Others are more doubtful, none more so than Lord Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. Speaking to the Mail this week, he recalled how he used to voice scepticism about China in the Nineties, only to be told by diplomat Sir Percy Cradock, a prominent apologist for the country: ‘They may be thuggish dictators but they are men of their word.’

    On the contrary, he said this week, ‘they are thuggish dictators but they are NOT men of their word’.

    China, he added, has flagrantly breached the Hong Kong handover treaty, which guaranteed basic freedoms for at least 50 years. It has broken its pledges over trade.

    And most recently, in the Covid pandemic, it broke the promises it made after the 2002 SARS outbreak to be transparent and notify the World Health Organisation within 24 hours if it discovered a new deadly disease.

    ‘The idea that you can believe what they say about environmental targets is for the birds,’ Lord Patten said. ‘Again and again, they rat on what they promise. Yet we are told we must be nice to them or they won’t keep their word. ‘I’m sure there are groups in China that want to see a reduction in emissions. That is not the concern of the Communist leadership, which wants to keep on growing, dominate global markets and ensure that Chinese standards of living increase.’

    Former Chancellor Lord Lawson, founder of the Global Warming Policy Forum, warned that Boris Johnson cannot afford to be naive. ‘If China doesn’t sign up to immediate cuts in its emissions, instead of continuing to expand the use of the coal on which its industrial stranglehold depends, Cop26 is going to be a stage in an unfolding catastrophe.

    ‘The soaring price of energy in Britain is already wreaking havoc and it is set to get much worse, leading to bankruptcies, inflation and unemployment. Yet China is getting away with voicing green intentions while its actions demonstrate the reverse.

    ‘Britain’s acts of self-harm will not help save the planet but merely outsource more jobs to a country wallowing in cheap, coal-fired power. If we want China to realise Xi Jinping’s stated goal of becoming the world’s only superpower by 2049, this is a great way to do it.’

    Sir Iain Duncan Smith agreed: ‘We are heading for a great historical disaster. The free world is emasculating itself while China gets stronger and more dominant. They will soon be impossible to resist.’

    1. Tim Spence permalink
      September 25, 2021 5:05 pm

      China’s coal reserves are around 12% of the world’s total but they’re digging up 50% of all coal mined, that is more or less equal to all the other countries, and on top they’re importing even more coal.

      Takes some thinking to wrap your head around that.

      Would make a good story Paul.
      Look at the reserves of gold, copper, uranium, oil etc and it’s a similar story

      • Robert Christopher permalink
        September 25, 2021 5:21 pm

        And you wonder why they are building carriers at the rate they are.

        • Mack permalink
          September 25, 2021 7:31 pm

          Don’t ‘wonder’ at all Robert. It’s pretty obvious. With Dementia Joe and his limp wristed chums in government demonstrating, on an almost daily basis, their gullibility, incompetence and suicidal misjudgement, China is licking its’ lips at its’ future prospects. In the first instance, Beijing’s aim is to achieve total domination of the Far East/Western Pacific rim. Gobbling up key global resources and becoming the world’s foremost industrial powerhouse is integral to their aims because it puts them in a position of unparrelled strength. First in their sights is Taiwan and the countries of the South China Sea then, having neutralised Australia, squaring up to India. Straight out of the 1930s Japanese playbook, but in reverse. Oh, and they haven’t forgotten Nanking, so nervous times ahead for the Empire of the Rising Sun too.

    2. September 25, 2021 5:05 pm

      Also to be found at The Base are 32 companies that use coal to make chemicals, so generating still more carbon pollution.

      For the ‘n’th time, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It’s an essential ingredient of plant photosynthesis, fizzy drinks etc., and a trace gas in the atmosphere at just over 0.04%.

      The world wants value for money Chinese products, but expects them to generate all their energy in expensive ways i.e. not via coal, which can’t work either economically or logistically. It’s just not doable.

    3. Andrew Mark Harding permalink
      September 25, 2021 5:25 pm

      China is a hostile, colonial, communist country.

      If China has world dominance, they will take over the world, Extinction Rebellion want that, they are the useful idiots who want worldwide communism.

      If the West does not wake up to these dangers and persists in its collective and false belief that atmospheric CO2 is warming the planet, then China will have the might, strength and money to dominate all democracies.

      UN Agendas’ 2021 & 2030 will become a very unpleasant fact!

    4. richardw permalink
      September 25, 2021 5:38 pm

      I keep seeing this statement that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for 200 years before being absorbed into the oceans. This doesn’t seem right to me. I always thought that atmospheric CO2 was part of a cycle which includes not only oceanic but also plant life Absorption – plus probably many others. When emissions exceed absorption then the CO2 level in the atmosphere increases but it’s not as though it is a poison that can’t be got rid of – rather, atmospheric storage helps the system accommodate the additional CO2 which will in due course be absorbed again. And at around 0.04% of the atmosphere itself this is hardly a problem. There is also plenty of theoretical evidence that any greenhouse effect that atmospheric CO2 has diminishes exponentially with increasing concentrations which may help explain why we are not seeing acceleration in temperatures (other than those caused by heat island effects) or seal level rise.

      • Ian Magness permalink
        September 25, 2021 5:52 pm

        You are correct about the 200 year meme. It’s just nonsense. Nobody really knows the figure (which would in any event be a huge guess) but common sense suggests it would be a few years at most. The point is not just that – as you point out – CO2 is part of the carbon cycle that effects interactions at all natural surfaces on Earth, CO2 is also extremely soluble. It readily goes into and out of solution depending on various factors of which temperature is one. Earth is a “water planet” – with overwhelmingly aqueous surfaces. Adding all the potential reactions together, a “new” CO2 molecule just isn’t going to be able to hide away without interacting with some chemical process or other for 200 years.
        I don’t know the history of the 200 year meme but it’s awfully convenient for warmists to talk about it as a horrible PCB-type pollutant that won’t go away in a human lifetime.

        • Broadlands permalink
          September 26, 2021 2:56 am

          Yes, atmospheric CO2 is part of the carbon cycle. It has been that way for more than three billion years. It is the steady state amounts that are important. The balance between photosynthesis and it’s direct opposite… aerobic respiration. Over geological time the burial of carbon (as fossil-fuel organic matter and bicarbonates) have lowered the percentage ratio of atmospheric oxygen to CO2 down to ~525 to one. It was the opposite billions of years ago. Human arrogance (coupled with ignorance?) will not change that by trying to eliminate what nature has given us for our energy needs. The CO2 we have been adding is greening the planet while clean-air acts help remove pollutants…exhaust aerosols. CO2 is helping to feed the increasing number of “carbon feet”. Why destroy all of that because of climate models predicting dire futures that are unlikely to happen anyhow…and can’t be prevented or mitigated?

        • GeorgeLet permalink
          September 26, 2021 6:09 am

          There is no verifiable scientific evidence that the extra CO2 from fossil fuels has caused warming or “climate change”. NASA and NOAA have fraudulently manipulated temperature data to make it look as if it is warmer now than in the last 150 years or more.

    5. Phoenix44 permalink
      September 25, 2021 5:52 pm

      If you keep pressing us on all the nasty things we do, we won’t pretend to stop doing all the stuff we are going to do anyway.

      What sort of appeasing, naive, lily-livered, snivelling politicians do we have now in the UK, US and Europe? They are quite happy to ruin our economies for nothing, because they know China will not cut anything. Meanwhile in order to at least have China say they might cut stuffy, we have to avoid criticising China.

      Literally unbelievable.

    6. Harry Passfield permalink
      September 25, 2021 7:41 pm

      Could it be that the West has no monopoly on ‘climate scientists’ (whatever they are) and has decided there really is no ’emergency’ (let alone AGW) so are ploughing their own furrow? That being the case, maybe they are just sitting back letting the West destroy its own industrial complex so that the Chinese can take over without lifting a gun.
      I would much rather our governments were as astute rather than allowing idiot greens to set the agenda.

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        September 25, 2021 9:59 pm

        Harry P:
        The Chinese are well aware that AGW is nonsense. They know from their own records that the ‘local’ (China) climate has been warmer and colder in the past, and that, despite the claims of global warming, parts of southern China aren’t as warm as they were 5-600 years ago.
        So they are determined to continue developing their economy, because the population like being better paid, better fed and with a better looking future, and that keeps the Communist Party in power.
        Western politicians prefer the idea of people worse off with things getting even more desperate (except for themselves of course).

        • It doesn't add up... permalink
          September 26, 2021 12:43 am

          I do wonder how things are really going in China. There is a new authoritarianism abroad, and something of a purge of wealthy entrepreneurs who might have built a rival base of power. They have been very secretive about the impact of covid on their own population. Countries that make bellicose statements often are trying to distract domestic populations from domestic problems. I think it is known that in cutting off supplies from Australia, they have cut their noses to spite their faces – and many Chinese had a cold winter last year because of it. I have noted that they have been buying LNG from Russia like it was going out of fashion. Of course these developments also make them dangerous. A bit like General Galtieri ahead of the Falklands invasion, for instance. Deeply repressive at home before striking out.

    7. September 25, 2021 10:11 pm

      Hi Paul, Good story. Would like to see Rose say burning wood contribute more CO2 than coal or anything else, as that is 9% plus harvesting and freight CO2. Regards Tim

      Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

    8. Martin Brumby permalink
      September 25, 2021 11:19 pm

      Sorry, I hate Xi Jinping and the CCP, they are no better than Mao Zedong, Stalin or Hitler.

      But the one good thing he / they have done is to ignore the GangGreen bullshit and to make sure everyone in China has reliable supplies of electricity.

      I don’t see it much helping us to keep Chinese peasants shivering in the dark whilst our Beloved Leaders drive us off the cliff, foot to the floor.

      The venal, gormless, treacherous bar stewards

    9. September 25, 2021 11:40 pm

      We in the West have to be mind bogglingly, eye wateringly, stupid to maintain that CO2 is the source of a warming planet when the entire southern hemisphere is cooler in December and January today, than it was in 1978-86.

      Those supporting this notion must be treated as ‘suspect’. Why?

    10. September 26, 2021 1:04 am

      Look out for the lobbyists.
      BBC Look North had an item on Friday
      ..”A report says coastal areas need help with jobs
      then an expert was introduced as being from Maritime UK
      and he started “Climate change, we need more green jobs, wind farms” etc.

      It was never explained who this org are
      This time they are not a front for Greenpeace
      but an offshoot of The Chamber of Shipping .

      This mirrors the Radio Lincolnshire big news story “More electric car chargers needed”
      … where it was never explained who the lobbying org was

    11. Stephen Lord permalink
      September 26, 2021 4:32 am

      China is usng the global warming alarmmism to hurt the West and benefit from cheap coal

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        September 26, 2021 5:27 am

        Of course.
        Why wouldn’t they?
        They are Communists, not Quakers.
        And they are bright enough to know a bunch of virtue signalling nitwits when they see them prancing about.

    12. September 26, 2021 7:45 am

      Some interesting alarm bells ringing in the UK’s transport/fuel problems at the moment.
      Are these difficulties a simple foretaste of what will happen when the shift to all electric vehicles is introduced/attempted ? Especially when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
      It would be nice if politicians and the media would do a few simple calculations !

    13. mwhite permalink
      September 26, 2021 8:55 am

      Perhaps the least of our problems.

      “Chinese citizens are being told to treat the USA and the Outside world as the Enemy, they’re being prepared for war whilst we tiptoe around worrying about hurting the feelings of the Chinese government…. Time to wake up”

      • mwhite permalink
        September 26, 2021 9:52 am

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        September 26, 2021 9:53 am

        Don’t forget that, whilst they have prepared for and are capable of fighting a “conventional” war, they anticipate actually winning a war based on economical manipulation, germs, viruses, nerve agents and ‘psy-ops’. Then there is the Belt & Road Initiative, already very successful for the CCP. This isn’t crackpot theory, they’ve published books about it.

        Make no mistake. Unlike our GangGreen Beloved Leaders, if the Chinese decide to fight any kind of war, they will intend to win it.

        Compare and contrast with the likes of Biden and Boris. Let alone all the limp wristed twats like Starmer or Sturgeon.

        They said of the First World War that the British and Colonial troops were lions led by donkeys. Fast forward 100 years and we now have lions led by woke, timerous little mice.

        When was the last time we went to war and actually won it? I think with the Yanks, that would be Grenada. The UK? that would be Sierra Leone. It is fair to suspect that the politicians involved didn’t intend to actually win, but their Military then had a few remaining commanders of the old school.

        We have been sold down the river.

    14. AC Osborn permalink
      September 26, 2021 9:35 am

      Read the comments and see how many commentors said “What secret? We have all known this for years.”

    15. Gamecock permalink
      September 26, 2021 11:29 am

      ‘David Rose Exposes China’s Obsession With Coal’


      China uses a lot of coal. What makes it an ‘obsession?’ The editor trying to punch up the story?

      And, seriously, all Rose does is quantify what we already knew. Everybody knows China uses a lot of coal. Is this a revelation to Rose/duh Mail?

      • September 26, 2021 12:14 pm

        “Obsession” is Paul’s word not Rose/Mail’s
        .. we should read past the headline.

      • September 26, 2021 1:01 pm

        No, but it’s a revelation to much of the British public

    16. September 26, 2021 12:11 pm

      If it really was about saving CO2, they would be making sure that each £1m spent is done on the most efficient CO2 cutting measure.
      Yet every solar PV panel in the UK is a lazy solar panel
      as the produce a quarter of what the same panel would in a hot sunny climate near the Equator

      Likewise replacing old coal tech with new GAS tech produces much bigger CO2 savings per £1m cost, than messing around with gimmicks like windpower

    17. Stephen Kelly permalink
      September 26, 2021 7:20 pm

      Is China trying to outdo our volcanoes by chance.

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