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China Backtracking?

October 16, 2021

By Paul Homewood


Signs that China is already backtracking on its climate pledges:


China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its timetable to slash emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on phasing out coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

In a statement after a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, stressed the importance of regular energy supply, after swathes of the country were plunged into darkness by rolling blackouts that hit factories and homes.

While China has published plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, the statement hinted that the energy crisis had led the Communist party to rethink the timing of this ambition, with a new “phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

China has previously set out plans to be carbon neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking by 2030, a goal analysts say would involve shutting 600 coal-fired power plants. President Xi Jinping has also pledged to stop building coal plants abroad.


“Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced,” the statement said.

“Given the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimise the layout for the coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate in line with development needs, and continue to phase out outdated coal plants in an orderly fashion. Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified.”

Beijing’s renewed embrace of coal – apparently at odds with Xi’s state climate ambitions – are likely to cause alarm in the run-up to Cop26.

George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre and the author of Red Flags: Why Xi’s China Is in Jeopardy, said Beijing had been forced to revise its plans in the face of the reality of economic problems and power outages.

There is nothing new about the expansion of coal power, which we have known apart for a long time.

But what is significant is the statement from Premier Li Keqiang, which suggests that energy security is now the key objective rather than emissions, and that the promise to peak emissions by 2030 may be rethought.

Reading between the lines, it appears there is a power struggle taking place between Li and President Xi, who is said to be unlikely to turn up in Glasgow. The Telegraph’s Ben Marlow believes this may be because Xi is afraid of a coup if he leaves the country. He is already in trouble on other fronts, such as his autocratic style of government.

As I have commented before, Xi’s promises of peak emissions and carbon neutrality by 2060 are worthless. When he is eventually ousted, as happens to all Chinese leaders, his policies will accompany him into the wilderness.

New leaders will disassociate themselves with his failed agenda, and all of the country’s problems will be blamed on Xi personally. Whatever pledges he may have made to world leaders will mean nothing to his successors.

We  are already seeing how damaging the energy crisis is to China’s economy, regardless of the cause. What is inevitable is that any serious push to phase out coal power will cause immense harm to economic growth and people’s standards of living.

This would in turn be an existential threat to the CCP itself. Li seems to have realised this, and may be positioning himself for a challenge.

Either way, the West can forget about any meaningful concessions from China at COP26.

  1. The Informed Consumer permalink
    October 16, 2021 5:40 pm

    How novel. A country actually concerned with their energy security.

    A shame the UK never thought of that.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      October 16, 2021 6:02 pm

      We did. Carrie Nut Nut blew it….

      • The Informed Consumer permalink
        October 16, 2021 6:27 pm

        Nut Nut’s was merely the icing on the cake. We had abandoned all thought of energy security long ago.

      • October 16, 2021 8:34 pm

        Energy security went out the door when subsidies were given to unreliable renewables and they were given priority access to the grid. It started in 1990 with the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation subsidising wind power, which together with solar power had previously been described as Impractical (wave energy was then in fashion).. How times change, with dozens of massive and useless solar farms being applied for, together with equally useless offshore wind turbines.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        October 17, 2021 8:25 am

        Carrie Nut Nut blew it.
        And, no doubt, not just Energy Security.

      • Julian Flood permalink
        October 17, 2021 11:01 am

        I’ve wondered if this nickname has been reported wrongly. Nut nut because she looks like a squirrel? Surely not, far too ungallant even for the PM’s private office. However, consider ‘Princess Numnuts’. A slang dictionary defines a numnuts as some who spreads disaster wherever she goes.

        Seems to fit precisely.


  2. Colin R Brooks AKA Dung permalink
    October 16, 2021 5:49 pm

    Is there any facility in parliament to remove a Prime Minister who is clearly insane???

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      October 16, 2021 6:03 pm

      Used to be. But when psychopaths could be diagnosed on brain scan the no mental illness requirement for MPs was swiftly dropped…..

    • 2hmp permalink
      October 17, 2021 10:40 am

      The trouble is he is listening to the climate religious and not to the science.The Reverse of Covid. But Green is King and he still wants to be king.

  3. Penda100 permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:10 pm

    Li Keqiang’s statement “Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced,” should be read out to the Government every morning, noon and night until they have all got the message. Instead we have Kwasi Kwarteng telling us it’s going to be all right because the Met Office have forecast a mild wet winter. Given their track record with long range (or anything past 3 days) forecasts, good luck with that. Chinese realistic, UK deluded.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 16, 2021 6:29 pm

      And one again a Minister doesn’t understand the information he is given. AIt may be a mild wet winter – overall. That doesn’t mean we don’t get ten days in total of dry, cold and still weather. Let’s imagine Christmas Day is like that and all of a sudden all those turkeys stop being cooked….

      • dave permalink
        October 16, 2021 9:52 pm

        “…all those turkeys stop being cooked…”

        Hello to the next shortage – of Imodium.

        And is Kwarteng actually only thinking one winter ahead?

        I was speaking recently to a Conservative County Councillor.
        He was so excited to be involved in the war to save the planet.
        Heaven defend us from late adopters!

  4. Cheshire Red permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:13 pm

    China is too big to fail, it would just be too painful for them. Xi cannot allow it to regress let alone collapse, so it’s full-steam ahead.
    Given the West is currently run by dripping wet idiots he must also be considering a unique opportunity to seize the moment, locking in substantial economic advantages.
    There’s no downside either, as the West isn’t planning any sort of enforcement in the event of non-compliance.
    In short we’re sitting ducks and Xi is getting his gun out.

  5. Gamecock permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:15 pm

    ‘But what is significant is the statement from Premier Li Keqiang’

    Yep. Saying anything is a confession of guilt.

    In the good old days, China just did what they wanted to, and said NOTHING.

  6. Phoenix44 permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:25 pm

    CHina is probably far less stable than it appears and many politicians assume. XI may have overreached in trying to centralise so much power in himself and instead ended up with the blame for various failures. It’s extremely difficult to see any Chinese leader actually doing anything that will jeopardise economic growth – it’s very doubtful the PLA (which has huge stakes in the economy with senior generals getting rich) would stand for it or for any reduction in their spending.

    But I doubt whether any of this will make any difference to Johnson. He feels the adulation from his new best friends for his madness.

  7. John189 permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:46 pm

    Premier Li is quite right.
    Last month when gas prices began to soar I wrote to my MP and asked him to make three points to Government Ministers. Firstly that energy security was the platform on which modern society is built; secondly that energy insecurity hits the poorest hardest and thirdly that if the Government wishes to decarbonise we should let science, not politics, dictate the pace.
    His response began by admitting that this was a subject he knew very little about. He then went on to tell me that the extreme weather conditions we are already experiencing, plus the environmental migration due to flooding and scorched lands mean that we have no choice but to strive for substantial and swift decarbonisation. It seems that my MP is right in at least one respect: we do indeed have no choice – no choice between political parties who have all adopted the same climate policies.
    One last point. My MP used the term “scorched lands”, a designation I have never encountered before. My guess is that “scorched lands” will soon turn up in the Guardian and then on the BBC alongside “global heating” and all the myriad junk phrases that have been coined to mask an utter lack of objective science.

    • dave permalink
      October 16, 2021 10:05 pm

      “…admitting that this was a subject he knew very little about…”

      So why did he not just stop there? Why does he have strong policies on the subject?
      Obviously, because what he really means is that he is a blind follower of authority,
      convinced that ‘they would not say such things if they were untrue.’

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        October 17, 2021 8:47 am

        I think some of these idiots actually believe it is so hot sometimes the earth gets scorched.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 17, 2021 8:45 am

      Do such MPs never look outside the window and wonder why they never experience any of this extreme weather?

      • Gerry, England permalink
        October 17, 2021 10:18 am

        No, looking outside would be too taxing for their brain cell.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 17, 2021 10:27 am

      The UK is a failed democracy with an ineffective parliament. MPs are supposed to hold the executive to account but if you look at the shear number of MPs who are part of the government you can see how that fails. I was amazed to see that the is a ‘steel minister’. WTF does he do all day? Not work in a steelworks or foundry that’s for sure or been anywhere near one. But there we have another MP on the government payroll.

      And even if your MP is not part of the government they might want to be. The Tories gave us a new Bollywood Dolly as MP who came out of Sunak’s tribe at the Treasury. There have already been suggestions of her becoming a minister for something – of course, British Asian female ticks the boxes – so would you expect her to do anything but follow the government line? No, of course not.

      • matt dalby permalink
        October 17, 2021 7:55 pm

        Given that democracy in this country is dead, unless one of the small parties such as Reform or Reclaim can start attracting much more support, as all the main parties seem to have the same policies especially on net zero. The government seems ever more intent on controlling our lives, e.g. vaccine passports/pressure to take experimental vaccines, woke control of freedom of speech etc. there seems very little to loose by moving to China and a lot to gain such as staying warm, keeping the lights on, and economic growth/prosperity.

  8. Mad Mike permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:46 pm

    China’s aims weren’t much to begin with but now even those are getting diluted. What a surprise.

    Actually there is a surprise and it is hearing a politician being truthful about his country’s position and what they are going to do about it.

  9. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 16, 2021 6:53 pm

    Not so far off topic, Paul, but I do hope you got to read Janet Daley in the DT today. Well worth the read!

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      October 16, 2021 7:09 pm

      I passed that on as well, Harry. So I imagine Paul will have some comment when he has a minute to spare. It’s times like this when we feel the lack of Chris Booker!

    • Lez permalink
      October 16, 2021 7:12 pm

      and the comments it attracted…………

  10. Jim Le Maistre permalink
    October 16, 2021 7:19 pm

    IF those plants were to install Scrubbers and Catalytic Precipitators they would be as clean as Natural Gas Power Plants . . . 30 year old technology that WORKS !

  11. October 16, 2021 7:32 pm

    China plan has always been stringing along the West on the Climate hoax to ensure that its imbecilic politicians will voluntarily sacrifice their economies on the Green Virtuous Altar. Putin has been mute and is raking in energy revenues.

    The UK electorate never voted to become poorer but Doris is way out in orbit on this matter.

  12. bluecat57 permalink
    October 16, 2021 10:19 pm

    It isn’t “backtracking” if you never intended to forward track to begin with.

  13. markl permalink
    October 17, 2021 12:32 am

    China says what you want to hear, shows what it wants you to see, reports what it wants you to know, and does what it pleases.

  14. Malcolm Skipper permalink
    October 17, 2021 4:39 pm

    O/T Alongside Janet Daley’s column today (see Harry Passfield) the Sun Tel also reports:

    Unesco World Heritage Site is considering adopting the moniker “birthplace of climate change”.
    Nick Ralls (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust): “The other side of that same coin (the Industrial Revolution) is that the iron smelting experiments happening in the gorge really signalled the beginning of pollution. It was those early beginnings that lead to pollution that’s still happening today.”


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