China Fools Western Environmentalists

China’s pursuit of net-zero emissions is a farce
By Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.
January 11, 2022Updated: January 19, 2022

News Analysis

Beijing is all talk and no action in terms of achieving its net-zero emissions goal.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared in 2020 that China will be “carbon neutral” and achieve “net-zero emissions” by 2060. This announcement was greeted with much fanfare by green energy advocates around the world.

According to state-run Global Times, Beijing is “all-in” on the greenies’ scheme of carbon trading, too.

“China’s national carbon market, the largest emissions trading system (ETS) in the world, was officially launched on Friday, marking a milestone for the nation’s institutional innovation in pushing ahead green development and a crucial step for the country to decarbonize its economy by 2060,” the report said.

Since that grand announcement, there have been many articles in Chinese state media singing the virtues of communist China’s grand march to a green future.

Here are some of the agitprop headlines bleating out that narrative:

• “China open to work with US on Paris Agreement”
• “The time to take climate action is now”
• “Green is gold—Xi Jinping innovates fight against climate change”
• “Green path will lead to carbon neutrality”
• “Formulation of carbon plan gaining speed”
• “Analysts hail Xi’s climate commitments”

On Jan. 7, the latest China Daily agitprop claimed that China is the No. 1 publisher of net-zero emission studies in the world.

“China has a clear lead in the publication of research over the past two decades related to the world’s climate goal of reaching net-zero emissions, a recent report has found. … China produced about 400,000 related publications, followed by the United States with 280,000,” according to the report.

But is the CCP really serious about achieving carbon neutrality and net-zero emissions, or is this just another one of their head fakes? And are all of those Chinese studies worth anything in terms of concrete actions taken?

Two definitions are in order to frame the answer to those questions:

Carbon neutral refers to manufacturing, energy production, or energy use process “having or resulting in no net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

This is a euphemism created by green energy advocates associated with the unproven assumption and alleged “97% consensus among scientists” (debunked here) that human-generated carbon dioxide causes “global warming.”

Net-zero emissions involve a given entity—for example, a country, an industry, or a manufacturing facility—having achieved “an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere,” according to the Climate Council.

This is another green euphemism premised on the unproven theories surrounding “anthropogenic global warming.”

Carbon neutral and net-zero emissions are political tools that green energy advocates are using to deregulate the economy and create new revenue streams associated with the buying and selling of carbon credits—as part of a grandiose carbon trading and exchange system that will be managed by “green governments” around the world.

The concept is that “dirty industries” (for example, those whose manufacturing byproducts include carbon dioxide and other designated “greenhouse gases”) will be heavily regulated. These industries will be forced to buy carbon tax credits on the exchange from green industries that underproduce their government allotment of greenhouse gases, in order to offset their government-defined “pollution.”

Companies are financially incentivized (for example, subsidized with taxpayer money) to reduce their emissions below their carbon allowances. Over time, this would allow governments to tip the balance in favor of green industries.

Epoch Times Photo
A coal-powered power plant is seen belching smoke on the outskirts of Linfen, China, in this undated photo. Linfen is regarded as one of the cities with the worst air pollution in the world. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s first significant foray into carbon trading began with the creation of the state-owned Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange (SEEE) in August 2008. The company “specializes in climate change mitigation and adaptation services including China Carbon Emission Reduction (CCER) trading, carbon financing, energy efficiency, climate technology transfer, and consultancy of low carbon development planning and strategies,” according to AlliedCrowds. The company piloted voluntary and nonvoluntary emission trading schemes that evolved into an emissions compliance market in 2014.

As a result of those pilots, the Chinese implemented a national emission trading scheme (ETS) in July 2021 as the key element of the National Carbon Market. According to Business for Social Responsibility, China’s national ETS will eventually “cover a total of eight sectors (power generation, petrochemical, chemical, building materials including cement, steel, non-ferrous metals, pulp and paper, and aviation).”

China’s National Carbon Market and ETS align with the plans of green energy advocates in Europe and in the United States, as manifested through the Paris Agreement, which commits signatories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through direct action. Carbon exchanges and national ETSs are envisioned as the governmental control mechanisms that will lead to a “new green future for mankind.”

But is this just window dressing that masks China’s real green objectives?

The Gatestone Institute has suggested that Beijing’s actual green goal is reducing U.S. competitiveness while increasing China’s competitive advantage, and expanding the world’s dependency on Chinese manufacturing and production of green products.

The Institute made the following key points: 1) Beijing’s seriousness about reducing emissions is not manifested in its latest five-year plan, which contains no concrete goals or actions required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; and 2) the Paris Agreement gives China (and India) a “free carbon ride” for the near term, while China is, in fact, rapidly increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

Meanwhile, European countries and the United States are required to achieve real emissions and reductions goals under the Paris Agreement, further burdening their economies through green regulations while China remains free to expand and pollute.

A report from the Rhodium Group last May reveals that China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) at 27 percent of the total in 2019, as depicted here:

Epoch Times Photo
A screenshot of Rhodium Group’s study. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

China’s 2019 GHG emissions represent a 25 percent increase from 2009—the trend coincides with the evolution of China’s National Carbon Market and ETS described above.

In short, the impact on emissions and the plan to achieve carbon neutrality of the Chinese ETS has been negligible. We now know what “net-zero emissions with Chinese characteristics” really means.

Zero emissions with Chinese characteristics would appear to obfuscate the expansion of Chinese energy production, too. Despite being the world’s largest carbon emitter, China commissioned more coal-fired capacity in 2020 than the rest of the world retired.

“China’s coal boom in 2020 more than offset the retirements in coal capacity in the rest of the world, leading to the first increase in global coal capacity development since 2015. … China’s coal boom accounted for 76 percent of the global 50.3 GW new coal capacity,” according to report by

Only Western greenies and politicians believe the CCP’s propaganda that China will achieve “net-zero emissions” by 2060.

Lastly, it is important to remember that Western green activists don’t limit their advocacy to “stopping global warming.” Their interests include halting pollution of all kinds and protecting the environment in all respects. The CCP’s green focus on climate change has been primarily because there’s big money to be made in producing the green technology components that are needed by the rest of the world, including batteries, solar power panels, and electric vehicles. The CCP is interested in making money rather than “protecting the environment” (and “stopping man-made global warming”).

Perhaps that’s the reason why the CCP and its media never discuss the following environmental problems in China:

Toxic algae blooms: Overdevelopment, including untreated fertilizer runoff, factory waste, and human sewage, has led to pollution of water sources, and produced toxic algae blooms that make water undrinkable and fish and other seafood toxic.

Toxic water pollution: Wastewater plumes in river discharges into the South China Sea have been extensive. Greenpeace has tested and detected the presence of a range of hazardous chemicals in Chinese coastal waters, including phthalates, antimony, and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs).

Air pollution: The people in mainland China wore masks long before the COVID-19 outbreak; they were worn because of horrible air quality in many major cities. Chinese air quality is adversely affected because of unprocessed industrial discharges, including mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, and also Mongolian desert dust.

Soil pollution: Chinese lands are plagued by “industrial waste seeping from factories onto the soil, and agricultural activities such as the application of fertilizers and the use of polluted water for irrigation,” according to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW). This pollution has led to local cancer epidemics in various industrial areas around the country (that go unreported in Chinese media). Think of a dozen Love Canals without the cleanup.

Epoch Times Photo
A general view of a rare earth refinery, north of the Inner Mongolian city of Baotou, China, on Aug. 20, 2012. On the edge of Baotou, a 10-square-kilometer lake is blackened by pollution from factories processing rare earths, elements that are essential for the production of mobile phones and computers. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Plastic pollution: Over 200 million cubic meters of plastic waste was found floating off Chinese shores in 2018, primarily “in the delta regions of the Yangtze and Pearl rivers,” according to the UK Independent. The article says China is the world’s leading generator of plastic waste.


Xi Jinping and his stenographers in Chinese state media grandly advertise China’s goal of achieving “net-zero emissions” by 2060. Chinese researchers are feverishly turning out zero-emissions studies and white papers. But China continues to lead the world in building coal-fired energy plants while ignoring other challenging environmental pollution problems that are leading to the deaths of Chinese citizens, and investing in green technology development and manufacturing for monetary gain.

Words versus actions. Net-zero emissions with Chinese characteristics.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.