A characteristic of climate change policies around the world is a disjuncture between targets states adopt and the policies they implement. States pledge to keep warming below 1.5-2.0 ˚C, but then make all sorts of choices which are fundamentally at odds with that trajectory: not pricing carbon, building new high-carbon infrastructure, and generally failing to act with seriousness and urgency.
A New York Times story demonstrates how bad the disjoint in Chinese policy is. They note: “Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal” and “The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord”. Most of the proposed construction is outside China:
Shanghai Electric Group, one of the country’s largest electrical equipment makers, has announced plans to build coal power plants in Egypt, Pakistan and Iran with a total capacity of 6,285 megawatts — almost 10 times the 660 megawatts of coal power it has planned in China.
At a time when the disastrous climate plans of Trump and the U.S. Republicans are making people hope that Chinese leadership can fill the gap, China’s unwillingness to abandon coal is a major reason why today’s policies are still leading toward global climate catastrophe.