China is muscling into the Middle East oil business for geopolitical reasons. Which might not be a direct climate concern. And it could be argued that from an alarmist standpoint (climate not strategic) it’s better for China to burn oil than coal. But once again it’s odd that people who are so hypersensitive to the climate that they want to landlock and shut down the relatively small Canadian oil industry are so complacent about China, which doesn’t even have to worry about the market viability of its investments because they’re part of a giant lunge for world domination directed by a dictatorship and funded by squeezing its own people who have no say in how the communist regime operates.
China’s environmental record is pretty openly a disaster, on any metric from air pollution to carbon “pollution”. And as Bjorn Lomborg noted in False Alarm, “China is by far the world’s largest consumer of coal. In fact, in each year since 2011, China has burned more than half of all the coal used worldwide. India (12 percent) and the US (8.4 percent) were in distant second and third places in 2018.” But just as radicals during the Cold War devised elaborate theories about how “capitalism” was bad for the environment while ignoring all evidence of ecological devastation in the U.S.S.R., at least until Chernobyl blew the lid off the scale of the disaster, and even claimed how capitalism was bad for human rights while dismissing the Gulag, there is a weird tendency to ignore what’s happening in China, or what the Chinese government is doing abroad, in order to flagellate ourselves.
At CDN we are not of course arguing that an open society should not probe obsessively into its own failings. On the contrary, it should discuss and debate everything vigorously (yes, everything, not just PC complaints) and trust to the “Dracula effect” that sunlight destroys evil. But in doing so, it must be willing to pull down the information curtains around closed societies as well and see whether their pretensions crumble to smelly dust.
We all have an interest in doing so in the interest of our society as a whole. And environmentalists have a narrower interest, we would suggest. If they ignore foreign tyrannies doing all the things they claim to hate, including geopolitical bullying to secure and use more fossil fuels, while condemning friendly and well-meaning jurisdictions for not being perfect, they put their own credibility severely at risk. And even when we think they’re wrong, we don’t want them to be stupid. We want a good debate, with intelligence and integrity on both sides.
Ignoring China doesn’t get it done.