Market Thinking

making sense of the narrative

In Reply to AEP on China

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The comments sections in online newspapers can often be more interesting and informative than the original articles and sometimes as part of the daily research process we comment on articles ourselves; partly to help inform the debate, but partly as a self discipline. There is an old expression attributed to Blaisse Pascal ” I am sorry to write such a long letter, but I didn’t have time to write a short one’ and trying to summarise a coherent viewpoint concisely is a good challenge.

This morning in the Daily Telegraph Ambrose Evans Pritchard talked about China and Climate Change. My comment links a number of much larger individual topics – not just China’s focus on pollution rather than CO2 and its drive for electric vehicles, which is benefitting the west through driving down the cost of inputs, but also the role of Big Gas (and Putin) in Green Politics, the typical Wall Street attempts to extract rent from the politics and the GeoPolitical consequences of the west’s attempts to control energy supplies to Asia. Each one of these topics is worth a longer post, but for now a 368 word summary will have to do!

The article.

The Comment

The Climate activists who claim that all ‘deniers’ (heretics) are funded by ‘Big Oil’ miss the fact that the Energy companies have prosecuted a fabulously successful war against their biggest competitor, the coal companies. Remember the BP campaign of ‘Beyond Petroleum?” They are selling gas, not oil, these days. Ever wonder why the Greens are confusingly also anti Nuclear and Anti Fracking? Just ask Cui Bono? On that note it is far more likely that Putin has been meddling in Green Politics than US politics.

China knows that its major strategic weakness is its need for energy imports. So does the US. That is why the 7th fleet sits in the South China Sea. That is why China is building pipelines as part of its One Belt One Road initiative and not coincidentally that is also why hot spots of ‘Rebel Insurgency’ keep appearing exactly where those pipelines are being built.

China has not bought into the belief system that man made Co2 emissions are the only thing that matters. However, they are extremely aware of the health hazards of roadside particulates, which is probably their main imperative behind the push to electric vehicles. The reduction in the need for oil imports is an obvious follow on benefit. Powering those electric vehicles through a combination of nuclear, renewable and clean coal reflects a domestic energy production system free from lobbying and external influence. Meanwhile oil and gas imports are being re-oriented towards Russia and Iran which has the benefit to China (and a nightmare for US Neo Cons) of building the Eurasia ‘Global Heartlannd’ that has obsessed Geo-Politics since the days of Mackinder.

A final point.The Financialisation of Green through the creation of carbon credits that is Wall Street’s totally self interested contribution to the party is something that the Chinese are happy to benefit from (if the west is stupid enough to let them) but they are never going to pay anything into the coffers of the Green religion, however much the west complains. Their investment into the technology and the scale of production that brings down the genuine cost of renewables (ie without hidden and egregious subsidy) should be more than enough contribution.

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