Skip to main content

This good news for Pacific Northwesterners opposed to the planned coal mega ports at Longview and north of Bellingham in Washington State comes from the business section.

China’s hunger for American coal in doubt

BY SEAN COCKERHAM
MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU

But a recent report by Wall Street colossus Goldman Sachs says this will be a transformational year for China, with its seaborne coal imports dropping for the first time since the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 and continuing to decline in the coming years. China’s own coal production has spiked, Goldman Sachs said, along with investment in Chinese railroads to move its coal.

China, with its cities shrouded in smog, also is trying to improve energy efficiency and diversify its fuel mix, including investments in nuclear energy and wind power, according to Goldman Sachs. Deutsche Bank also said in a report released this month that there are increasing signs of “softer Chinese coal demand growth going forward.”

Having just recently returned from China, I've seen how quickly smog levels in urban centers like Shanghai and Beijing can spike. Chinese tourists inside China often comment on the air quality of the tourist spots they visit. Air quality has become inordinately important to the Chinese people who have had to deal with some of the worst air pollution on earth.

                   
                                           New construction in Beijing

 

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, Climate Hawks, and PacNW Kossacks.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  good news (24+ / 0-)

    just over a week ago:

    Terminal developer Kinder Morgan on Wednesday dropped its proposal to export coal to Asia from a Columbia River port near Clatskanie.

    The company's decision means three of the six coal export terminals originally proposed in Oregon and Washington have gone by the wayside. It also significantly reduces the potential for coal train traffic through Portland.

    three to go...

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:50:52 PM PDT

  •  In the 70s Los Angeles had the worst air pollution (9+ / 0-)

    Before that London was once the worst.

    Now it's all of China.

    If China does what I think they can do there may be hope.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Fri May 17, 2013 at 08:12:20 PM PDT

  •  China is capping its coal consumption (15+ / 0-)

    SMH: Australian coal miners face China cap

    China's new leadership seems to have a new slogan - "control coal" - and Australia's coal exporters underestimate their resolve to cap consumption of the fossil fuel at their peril, a Chinese researcher says.

    China's leaders under President Xi Jinping say they plan to enforce a target of limiting annual coal use to 4 billion tonnes – about half the world's total - by 2015.

    [...]

    Chronically bad air pollution is one factor driving China's bid to restrict coal consumption, with the capital Beijing routinely reporting very unhealthy conditions.

    “You can be a government official but you still have to breathe,” Ms Yang said.

    China's rapid advances in renewable energy – the country has become the biggest producer of solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines – have also given the government “a taste of what future competitiveness will look like”, she said.

    “Nobody doubts China's commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures,” Ms Yang said.

    I think China is using coal as a short term bridging fuel as they transition to wind and solar. Western countries, like Australia and America, that are betting on ever growing Chinese demand for coal are in for a rude awakening. The coal ports on the west coast if they are built will be ready about the time China's coal demand drops quickly.
  •  China's emerging middle class (17+ / 0-)

    is discovering that they cannot breathe disposable income.

    The myth, that China will always consume and pollute ever more no matter what, is a falsehood used to justify the unconscionable.

  •  Good news. (6+ / 0-)

    Please be sensible, China.

    "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri May 17, 2013 at 09:07:38 PM PDT

    •  Transitioning to renewables, especially (4+ / 0-)

      wind, is sensible in another way:  Wind is cheaper than coal.  At least, it is if the coal-burning generators don't already exist.  Wind turbines have become so effective that China and many other nations can get more power for less cost by building wind farms than by building and fueling coal-burning power plants.  

      So wind makes sense for three entirely separate reasons.  It's cheaper.
      It doesn't cause air pollution.  
      It reduces Global Warming.
      No wonder China is installing a lot of it.

      Wind is even getting close to being cheaper than electricity from existing coal or natural gas burning generators.  

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Sat May 18, 2013 at 01:02:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that is a great data point that I did not know (0+ / 0-)

        no wonder the coal barons are freaking out.

        although sadly, another big reason they're freaking out is because they're being out-competed by natural gas and its fracking ways.

        But in general, this is good.

        "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:36:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, coal is only cheaper than wind if the (0+ / 0-)

          coal-burning generators already exist and don't need to be built.  

          although sadly, another big reason they're freaking out is because they're being out-competed by natural gas and its fracking ways.
          I've read that fracked natural gas wells tend to fall off in production quite fast and need to be (expensively) re-fracked every three to five years.  The price of gas may take a sharp jump upward in the next few years, even without a tax on carbon.  If/when that happens, wind will really take off.  Electric companies won't want to build new coal-fired power plants.  
          But in general, this is good.  
          Yes, very much so.  

          Renewable energy brings national global security.     

          by Calamity Jean on Sat May 18, 2013 at 09:02:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Related: taking responsibility for coal exports (8+ / 0-)

    Industry flacks say "If we don't export it, China will burn the same amount of coal anyway."  False on any number of levels, as I describe in the May issue of Whatcom Watch:

    Climate Change and Coal Export: Taking Responsibility

    Let’s suppose for a moment that the pro-terminal approach is true — that there is no way to stop further massive increases in Chinese coal consumption, that the coal will come from somewhere, no matter what. By the way — China already has plenty of coal, from domestic sources and current imports, for consumption at their current rate. Therefore, coal from GPT would be only a marginal supply intended to support China’s expanded coal burning capacity.

    This scenario contains a baked-in assumption that there will be no systematic change in the way that the world approaches greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and the environment generally.

    Let’s be clear on the outcome: it’s very, very bad. For China, for us, and for the world. It is a profoundly dismal outlook.

    Preemptively giving in to this worst-case scenario is, by reflection, the worst possible decision we could make as a community and a country. Giving in simply allows others to promote giving in as well, pointing their finger at our actions.

    Promulgating this idea that “there’s nothing you can do” is not limited to the proposed coal port — it’s part of a larger climate misinformation campaign that’s been going on for many years. Previously, climate deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry focused their efforts on spreading doubt about the reality of climate change. That’s been shredded by recent events such as super-storm Sandy, so the fallback position is to say that nothing can be done.

    The only real hope for salvaging our climate is to make decisions that, in every case, reflect and create the potential for much better outcomes.

  •  Good news. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, Lefty Coaster

    But I'll feel better when coal is not just dirty energy but a dirty word that politicians can hurl like daggers at each other, one that being on the wrong side of can take down a campaign before it gets off the ground.

    From here on out, no one can escape the havoc wrought by the unmitigated Class, Climate and Terror Wars.

    by Words In Action on Fri May 17, 2013 at 10:07:07 PM PDT

  •  ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, Lefty Coaster, 6412093

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    With China and India Ravenous for Energy, Coal’s Future Seems Assured

    Global demand for coal is expected to grow to 8.9 billion tons by 2016 from 7.9 billion tons this year, with the bulk of new demand — about 700 million tons — coming from China, according to a Peabody Energy study. China is expected to add 240 gigawatts, the equivalent of adding about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years. During that period, India will add an additional 70 gigawatts through more than 46 plants.

    “If you poke your head outside of the U.S., coal-fired plants are being built left and right,” said William L. Burns, an energy analyst with Johnson Rice in New Orleans. “Coal is still the cheapest fuel source.”

    http://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/...

    http://science.time.com/...

    As the data show, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world — combined.

    That’s deadly for the Chinese people — see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month — and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change.

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

    by indycam on Fri May 17, 2013 at 10:21:33 PM PDT

  •  I have been in Beijing when it was polluted. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, PeterHug, Bronx59, 6412093

    It was like breathing out of a tailpipe.  Some way in Taipei when there  was an inversion layer.  Sometimes you could cut the pollution with a knife.  You have to spend time in Asia to truly appreciate the environmental disasters they have created in their metropolises.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Sat May 18, 2013 at 12:03:05 AM PDT

  •  "Leave It In The Ground" (5+ / 0-)

    Should be the new slogan of the environmental movement. If we don't leave billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels in the ground, we're in for it.

    This is an encouraging sign that we may be able to actually do so. As renewables actually become more cost-effective than fossil fuels it could become politically impossible to build or even maintain a coal plant.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Sat May 18, 2013 at 12:12:27 AM PDT

  •  "China Is Passing Us By" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, Bronx59

     Those big domestic fossil energy projects with their jobs and their revenue? Corporate welfare with gigantic, tragic downsides.
      Turn the Northwest Coast into a coal yard?
      Turn Canada into a toxic parking lot?
      Turn the shale gas regions into a toxic cesspool?
      Turn your neighborhood into the new LaBrea Tar Pits?
    ...Turn the Earth into an unrecognizable stew?
      Don't worry, we'll get to fixing those in the 2020's! But remember, never, ever raise taxes... or fines, or create regulations or consequences...
      Meanwhile China is responding to their own problems regarding energy related problems in strong and concerted ways, albeit many with huge ecologically catastrophic consequences of their own, that bypass us as financially. We'll be left holding a mighty big bag when we lose our partner in grime.
     To quote Rick Perry, "Ooops!"

  •  I wrote about The Myth of China's Coal Demand (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    and for the same reasons you cite

    Macca's Meatless Monday

    by VL Baker on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:10:51 PM PDT

  •  It's good news if true...but I don't see, as the (0+ / 0-)

    link above shows there is a LOT of spin. The fact is that China is, nevertheless, increasing, not decreasing in coal consumption...but the rate of that increase has lowed, thanks in part to a variety of factors: world financial crisis and drop in consumption; increase in hydro electric power; increase in nuclear energy. But it's still increasing and THAT is the problem.

    Wind cannot substitute for coal. At best it can at times mitigate it's use when the wind blows. Thus it is not really 'cheaper' than coal since it's product: intermittent ups and downs in production limits its use. To build enough wind AND integrate with a smart transmission grid is way more expensive that a 3 billion dollar coal plant that out puts and follows load on demand.

    China knows exactly what it is doing and it builds according to national needs, which is why it is diversifying it's energy as well as a huge diversification of low carbon alternatives: solar, nuclear, wind and hydro.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Mon May 20, 2013 at 09:53:37 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site