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Counting Carbon
Did China Already Hit Peak Carbon?

Another week, another study that suggests that alarmist green climate models have seriously overestimated Chinese CO2 production, which may have already peaked. The FT reports:

China’s carbon dioxide emissions are likely to peak by 2025 — and may even have done so already — according to a new paper that suggests the country’s economic slowdown and transition, combined with rapid adoption of renewable energy, mean previous projections of China’s emissions are far too pessimistic. […]

The new study assumes that even under a “high-growth scenario”, annual economic growth will be just 6 per cent for the coming decade — compared with an average of more than 10 per cent in the first decade of this century.

With the slowdown accompanied by a government-planned economic shift from carbon-intensive heavy industry to services, the authors expect a decline of at least 4 per cent in the country’s energy intensity over the next decade.

This latest study, conducted by researchers from the London School of Economics, echoes similar reports last week that China’s coal consumption dropped 3.7 percent last year. But while this report, like those that preceded it, will hearten greens the world over anxious to anoint Beijing as some model environmental steward, it comes with some important caveats.

First, China’s numbers should be treated with a heavy dose of skepticism—the country has a long history of reporting dubious statistics. Second, this is less a story of eco-ideals on the rise, and more of a story of China’s economy faltering after years of double-digit annual growth. At the same time that green groups were lauding China’s slowing emissions last week, it was reported that the country was losing 1.8 million jobs as its industrial sector faltered.

If China’s carbon emissions really have peaked, it’s not because Beijing just discovered some deep abiding love for nature—it’s instead a result of economic contraction and the country’s recognition that its heavy coal consumption make it reliant on energy imports while also fomenting unrest. This emissions corrective also suggests previous projections for China’s climate impact were overly pessimistic—a perhaps unsurprising turn of events, given the Chicken Little tendencies of the modern environmental movement.

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  • Jim__L

    So if manufacturing is moving away from China, where is it moving *to*?

    (And can we move it back here to America? With fracking and all, we should have plenty of energy to run it.)

    • Jacksonian_Libertarian

      You are right, with energy abundance, a mature and efficient infrastructure, a highly skilled but underutilized work force, and the least risky political environment, America looks like the best place for direct investment. Unfortunately, there is another ingredient critically needed to make America thrive, it needs to be business friendly. But with some of the highest business taxes in the western world, America spurns businesses that would otherwise spend all their investment capital in America.
      And what for? Businesses taxes are stupid, as all businesses are owned by People, and if the businesses didn’t have to pay, then the owners would make more and they would have to pay. While at the same time, businesses would stop playing the crony capitalist game and corrupting government, as well as be relieved of the insane compliance costs where many companies have entire departments devoted to paying and reducing their taxes.

      • Fat_Man

        Do not over look the role of regulatory agencies. Particularly the EPA whose avowed goal is stamp out all industry.

        • Pait

          Any of you looking for jobs in steelmaking?

          • Fat_Man

            Lots of Americans would love to have a good job like that. If you opened an office to recruit workers for a new steel plant, the line of applicants would be a mile long. The real employment rate is over 20%. Jobs flipping burgers have been all that is available over the last 6 years.

          • Jim__L

            My magnetohydrodynamics is a little rusty, or I would be.

            The engineering and physics necessary to design and monitor molten steel and modern smelting techniques is pretty hardcore.

          • Pait

            Yes, I’m aware that many people would line up for an industrial job…. if the wages are high enough. At the levels that make the jobs attractive, heavy manufacturing becomes quite expensive in America. And the more attractive America becomes as an investment destination, the more expensive manufacturing in the country becomes, in relative terms. For good or bad, that’s how the markets are working.

            I also know that wealthier elites often think that factory work is good for the children of the poor, even at low salaries, even if the cost of absence of proper health and safety regulations were to be absorbed exclusively by the workers themselves. They don’t seem to want those jobs themselves too often, but are happy to deploy the supposed virtues of hard labor for political purposes – often in conjunction with arbitrary figures, dates, and references to party in power. Such is human nature, again for better or for worse. Thanks!

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