If China Cares About the World’s Forests, Then Why Is It Destroying Them?

November 15, 2021 Updated: November 16, 2021


More than 100 world leaders recently committed to put an end to deforestation by the end of the decade. China was one of the countries promising to save the world’s forests.

Are we witnessing a new, climate-conscious China? Does Xi Jinping really care about the trees? Well, the answer to both questions, not surprisingly, appears to be no.

With climate change, the human race is facing an existential reckoning. This is the opinion of John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate. His boss, President Joe Biden, certainly agrees. According to the president’s campaign website, the United States faces “no greater challenge” than climate change. Biden appears to be especially concerned about deforestation, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.

At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Nov. 1, each country solemnly promised “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.” Good news. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is here to help.

To quote William Langer, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” No matter how many times the CCP makes promises and breaks them, there never seems to be a shortage of people willing to gobble up the next batch of climate-based assurances.

We have been here before; in fact, many times before. The CCP has a history of making bold climate pledges; it also has a history of failing to honor any of them. With Beijing’s deforestation pledge, we should expect to be disappointed yet again.

After all, according to a study by Forests & Finance, Chinese financial institutions (all closely tied to the CCP) are one of the world’s biggest contributors to rainforest deforestation. Another study, published in June, documented the ways in which Chinese banks have poured billions of dollars into deforestation-linked agribusinesses. Over the past seven years, according to eco-watchdog Global Witness, Chinese financiers have provided more than $22.5 billion in funding to companies producing the likes of palm oil and soy, two commodities intimately linked with deforestation.

Paltry Pledges and Empty Promises

China’s latest deforestation pledge should not be taken seriously, largely because Beijing has a history of telling brazen, climate-oriented lies.

COP26 - Day Eleven Transport
China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, speaks during a joint China and U.S. statement on a declaration enhancing climate action in the 2020s, on day eleven of the COP26 climate change conference at the SEC in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 10, 2021. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

As Jacob Helberg, a senior adviser at the Stanford University program on geopolitics and technology, recently noted, the CCP has “an abysmal record of upholding international agreements—on issues from chemical and biological weapons to the political status of Hong Kong.”

Furthermore, if the CCP was actually “serious about making major efforts on climate, it would not have so brutally repressed and intimidated many of the country’s own climate activists.” He’s right. The CCP does not look favorably on environmental protestors, even those that struggle to breathe in its horribly polluted cities.

To think that Xi and the CCP are serious about environmental issues, including deforestation, requires a complete suspension of disbelief. Remember, this is a man who chose not to attend COP26—supposedly the most important climate summit in history. Xi didn’t even send a video message. This is the level of contempt he holds for the climate alarmists in the West.

According to Biden, Xi’s decision to skip the summit in Glasgow was a “big mistake.” Was it, though? China has never done anything positive for the environment, yet the vast majority of the world’s countries rely on it for vital necessities, including pharmaceuticals and cell phones. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continues to destroy land and rivers, yet 138 of the world’s 195 countries have invited Beijing into their backyards.

With China, nothing ever changes. Why? Because there is zero incentive for China to change. If you already get everything you want without having to make a single sacrifice, why change?

Full of Gas

On Nov. 3, more than 100 countries signed up to a new initiative, which was initiated by the United States and European Union. The countries promised to slash their methane emissions by 2030.

China, though, refrained from making any methane-related promises—which is odd. If the country really cared about the world’s forests, then why wouldn’t it join the methane pledge?

Last year, Madeleine Scammell, a professor of environmental health at Boston University, and her colleagues published a study on the effects of methane on soil and trees. Compared with healthy trees, dying trees were up to 30 times more likely to have traces of methane around their roots. The findings should come as little surprise.

Methane gas harms humans in various ways; it impairs our vision, speech, cognition, and breathing. It is harmful to everything and everyone, including the world’s trees.

Which brings us back to China’s deforestation pledge. Remember, a pledge is nothing but a promise, no more than a few words. And, as we all know, a promise from Beijing is like a promise from an alcoholic who has no desire to change. Absolutely worthless.

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

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, The Spectator US, and other respectable outlets. He is also a psychosocial specialist, with a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.