The Australian Strategic Policy Institute claims US villainy and inaction on climate change is driving strategic Pacific island nations to embrace… China. We’d suggest that Pacific Islanders and everybody else take a second look at China’s GHG emissions, fuel choices and geopolitical appetite for Pacific islands.
There is something highly suspicious about rebranding China as a green superpower. Even groups like Climate Home News, who in our view had wildly exaggerated expectations of the Madrid COP25 climate conference and place far too much faith in words rather than deeds, are moving away from China there on the bench over its emissions and its hypocrisy.
To be fair to ASPI, they do make this point. While saying “Beijing, to its credit, recognises the value of environmental rhetoric” they also warn pointedly of “China’s title as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and coal consumer” whose “carbon dioxide output grew by 4% during the first half of this year.” And they recommend pointing the bony finger of blame squarely at this hypocritical rogue state: “Public diplomacy efforts should seek to spotlight Chinese environmental recklessness, such as the release of thousands of tons of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in northeast China in violation of the Montreal Protocol, and China’s ongoing plans to construct more than 300 coal-fired power plants around the world.”
One possible way of doing so would be to emphasize that China, which rejects western “hegemonism” in favour of its own, has lately developed something of a hate for St. Greta as part of its anti-foreigner nationalism. The Financial Times reports that “One of the targets of this nationalist ire has been Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist who is revered as a climate hero in some parts of the world. 'Many netizens see [Greta] as representing the general liberal western agenda,' says Mr Li [“Li Junfeng, a senior renewable energy policymaker and head of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy Research, part of the government planning ministry”]. 'There is this larger perspective that the west is ganging up against China.'”
With renewables collapsing and coal soaring, China recently demanded the WEIRD (“Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic”) countries hand over $100 billion to poor countries harmed by climate change. No prize for guessing whose douli is extended first and farthest for that cash. You go first. We build coal.