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The Red Chinese Go 'Green'

Irwin M. Stelzer

Chinese president Xi Jinping is headed to the G20 meeting in Hamburg later this week planning to paint the town—no, not red—but green. Using President Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris climate deal as an excuse, Xi will present himself as the new savior of the environment. As he told an enthralled crowd at the Davos gathering of the great-and-sometimes-good, “The Paris agreement is a hard-won achievement. All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it, as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

His support for the deal is understandable, since it allows China to continue increasing its CO2 emissions, while requiring America to reduce ours. And anyhow, the agreement is unenforceable, an important feature of any deal favored by China, witness its new assault on the freedom of Hong Kong despite its agreement to leave it to its own devices for decades to come.

Xi’s problem is that the color green does not become him. Of the 1,600 coal-fired power plants now under construction in 62 countries, more than 700 are being built by one Chinese entity or another. That’s down from a planned 800, but it still represents the largest portion of the world’s new coal plants. Well over 100 of the new Chinese-funded plants are to be built in countries other than China, so their emissions will not count against China’s total if and when China reports on its progress towards slowing the increase in emissions for which it is responsible. Worse still, as the New York Times reports, “Some of the countries targeted for coal-power expansion . . . currently burn almost no coal, and the new coal plants could set the course of their national energy policies for decades.”

None of which matters to German chancellor Angela Merkel. She has announced her determination to berate Trump for bidding farewell to Paris, and to redouble efforts to assure that the Paris goals are irreversible. She declares that she and the rest of the world “won’t wait until the last person on earth is convinced of the scientific basis for climate change.” She left little doubt as to the identity of this anti-science cretin.

Forgive Merkel, for she faces a September election in a country in which only 5 percent of the electorate has a favorable view of Donald Trump. But forgive her not for the hypocrisy of running an energy policy that has seen the output of coal-fired power plants skyrocket this year, of which a good part of the coal being burned is lignite, the dirtiest of fuels.

It seems that because the sun don’t always shine, and the wind don’t always blow, and Germany’s nukes are being phased out, its last domestic resort, especially during a cold snap, is coal. At least until it can sign a new contract increasing its reliance on Russian gas.

There you have it. Two green politicians, their coal plants spewing CO2 emissions, preparing a frosty reception for President Trump—who had the temerity to withdraw from a meaningless agreement designed to disadvantage American companies.

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