New Chinese coal power plants will increase the emissions more than 500% of Norways total emissions.
As EU and USA are accelerating their efforts into reducing their carbon footprint, China has no inclination to follow suit. The approved coal power and steel plant projects for the first half of 2021 will alone increase Chinas emissions more than 5 times the total, annual emissions of Norway. One of these projects alone will increase the emission more than all fossil cars in Norway, i.e., if all Norwegians parked their remaining fossil cars tomorrow, the reduction in climate gas emissions would be offset by a single of the approved power plant projects in China.
China – the world largest polluter
China passed USA several years ago as the world’s largest polluter, comments Steinar Fretheim, advisor to Ewave Holding AS, – and they have no plans to slow down the increase in climate gas emissions. And it is not only in absolute terms, due to the countries 1.4 billion inhabitants. The country also emits 25% more per capita compared to Norway. And they are hitting the accelerator, planning to emit even more climate gasses, offsetting the efforts of the EU, USA and a number of other countries.
How to make China take their share of the emission reductions?
As most people realize, CO2-emissions are global; they don’t stay where they are emitted. Hence the need for global efforts to reach the 1.5-degree target. And it doesn’t help the pedestrianised people of Sweden or Germany if their sacrifices are offset by a few months’ worth of new fossil power plants in China, says Steinar Fretheim. - As China needs the world more than the world needs China, the obvious short-term conclusion is for the industrialized countries to immediate impose carbon tax on imports from China. The revenues from such a tax should be earmarked to reduce domestic emissions in the EU even further, offsetting the increase in the Chinese CO2-emissions. A carbon tax on Chinese EUR 460 bn exports to the EU of appr. 4% would be sufficient to finance EU´s EUR 100 bn Green Deal Investment plan for 2021-2027. Another 12% tax would fully finance renewable energy to replace all of Europe´s coal power plants in the same period. Adding a 16% carbon tax is a rather modest measure, and even accounting for the fact that the cost of the tax would be shared between exporters and importers, it would give an incentive to China to cut their emissions internally, alternatively would increase the relative competitive strengths of suppliers in other countries.
Biggest bang for the buck.
A major problem in many countries when reducing their climate gas emissions has been the absence of a proper cost/ benefit analysis. - In Norway, the cost of reducing emission
through the electrification of cars was calculated to be between 50 and 260 USD per ton, compared to the pricing of carbon certificates in the EU-markets, after a massive price increase, of appr. EUR 25 per ton, continues Steinar Fretheim. - There are of course other positive long-term effects of having the highest percentage of electric cars in the world, making Norway into a laboratory for other nations to learn from when transiting from fossil to emission free transportation.
The main single point sources of emissions are coal and gas power plants alongside steel production. Hence, the most cost-effective way of reducing the CO2- emissions is to replace fossil run power plants with renewable power plants. - To simplify, we can imagine substituting fossil power with solar power, adds Steinar Fretheim.
The CO2-emissions per kWh is appr. 1 kg for coal and oil and 0.4 kg for natural gas. Starting with coal, the total emissions of Norway (50 megatons, to keep it simple) equals the emission from coal power plants producing some 50 TWh. Thus, if Norway invested in building solar power producing 50 TWh, replacing coal power, Norway would have reduced its net carbon footprint to 0. The cost for a 1 MWp power plant is now appr. 1 Mio USD, turnkey. 50 TWh equates an installed capacity of appr. 33,400 MWp, costing 33.4 billion USD. This would cost the Norwegians appr. 8% of the GDP, or 2.75% of their oil fund. But this would also be an investment with a return. If we assume a spot price for electricity in the European markets of 0.05 EUR / kWh, this investment will yield appr. 6% on the invested capital, compared to the inflation adjusted historical return of the oil fund of 4.6%.
China cannot be ignored if we are to reach the temperature goal of 1.5 degrees increase.
The authorities seems to be indifferent to carry their share of the load to reach the climate goals, and the only way to change this is for the industrialised countries to intervene by imposing a carbon tax on Chinese imports, investing the proceeds from the tax in emission reducing measurements. At the same time, industrialised countries should vigorously prioritise investments giving the largest reduction per EUR or USD invested, ignoring special interest groups like the lignite lobby in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.