Years ago, in response to Los Angeles smog, Johnny Carson reputedly quipped, “I don’t trust air I can’t see.” Maybe so Johnny, but your lungs and eyes understand the health benefits of clean air. Scientists and policymakers generally agree that the world will have to quit coal to have any hope of restoring universal air quality.
In North America at least, the endgame for coal has begun. China is another story.
While China claims it is trying to slow the construction of new, domestic coal-fired power plants, and is a world leader in solar and wind power installations, Chinese coal consumption grew in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, China’s global coal operations are as important as what it does at home. Its powerful coal sector is building and financing coal-fired power plants in 17 countries, according to Urgewald, an advocacy group based in Germany.
China’s approach to coal is critical to improving worldwide air quality. It has been said that, “what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Maybe, but what goes into the atmosphere circles the globe.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA