After Paris: China Stokes Global Coal Growth

Chinese companies and banks are continuing to drive global coal expansion, as state-owned companies, backed by state loans, build coal-fired power plants across the world. This is despite commitments from China’s top leaders to deliver clean energy and low carbon infrastructure for developing countries. The world’s largest carbon emitter aims to reposition itself as a global green power. However, these efforts are being undercut by Chinese-backed coal power plants planned and under construction from Indonesia to Pakistan, Turkey to the Balkans –as well as in Africa and Latin America. These could boost global emissions and lock developing countries into fossil fuel intensive energy systems for decades. –Beth Walker, China Dialogue, 23 September 2016

India has become the center of the world’s oil demand growth and the country’s economic growth will affect global commodities, Citigroup Inc. said in a research note. The world’s second-largest country by population after China will see its economy expand at about 8 percent a year through 2021. The country’s working-age population will increase by 220 million over the next 20 years, and about 240 million people will move to cities. Coal demand will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent a year through 2020 as the country tries to electrify more rural areas. Domestic production of coal for power will rise even faster, reducing imports, while a strong domestic steel-production outlook means the nation will have to increase metallurgical coal imports. –Dan Murtaugh, Bloomberg, 26 September 2016

China’s Communist Party has as its highest priority its own self-preservation, and that self-preservation depends overwhelmingly on its ability to continue raising the standard of living of its citizens. With China’s economic growth faltering, the last thing the Communist Party wants is to hobble its economy further by curtailing the use of the fossil fuels upon which its economy depends. A major cutback in fossil fuel use represents an existential threat to the Communist Party’s rule. It simply isn’t going to happen. –Patricia Adams, The Truth About China, GWPF Report December 2015

After years of delay, Mexico could open up its vast shale oil fields to U.S. drillers as soon as next year, the Mexican secretary of energy said Friday. Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, speaking to energy executives, attorneys and academics at Rice University, said that the long-suspended auctions for northern Mexico’s shale fields could reopen after the first quarter of 2017. The fields could provide Houston oil companies with nearby and ready-made opportunities for expansion. Much of it is essentially an extension of the Eagle Ford reservoir, which stretches from central Texas and into Mexico. Local companies, familiar with the geology and now experts in hydraulic fracturing, could be first in line to develop the fields. –David Hunn, Houston Chronicle, 23 September 2016

The world is awash in oil (and natural gas too, for that matter), and those cheap hydrocarbon inputs will be welcomed by all sectors of the global economy besides, of course, the oil and gas industry. Moreover, it bodes well for future global energy security that after all the peak oil hand-wringing, suppliers around the world keep finding and extracting more and more of one of civilization’s most important commodities. —The American Interest, 25 September 2016

A green campaign group made a series of misleading claims about the health and environmental impacts of fracking, according to a damning draft ruling by the advertising watchdog. Friends of the Earth (FoE) failed to substantiate claims that fracking could cause cancer, contaminate water supplies, increase asthma rates and send house prices plummeting, the Advertising Standards Authority says. Scientists accused the group of scaremongering after it made the claims in thousands of copies of a leaflet asking for donations to help stop fracking. –Ben Webster, The Times, 26 September 2016

The pitched battle over President Obama’s signature climate change policy, which is moving to the courts this week, carries considerable political, economic and historical stakes. Yet its legal fate, widely expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, could rest on a clerical error in an obscure provision of a 26-year-old law. If [Obama’s] plan is struck down, the United States, the world’s largest carbon polluter over the centuries, will lose its main tool to cut greenhouse gas emissions. If it is upheld, it will transform the nation’s electricity system, closing hundreds of coal-fired power plants and setting in motion a wholesale shift to wind, solar and nuclear power, as well as to improved electric transmission systems. –Coral Davenport, The New York Times, 25 September 2016