China has been in the Western press a lot lately, and as usual it has been cast in a negative light. It is remarkable how inverted the Washington and European consensus is from the Chinese reality. The US is currently actively engaged in China’s responses, notably with Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the first such trip by such a senior US representative in nearly a quarter century. China has done various things, but one of them is to cut off climate talks with the US, something that is being misconstrued as cutting off all climate talks and stopping climate action, neither of which is remotely true.
Infographics from Visual Capitalist leading this article got me thinking. It was shared on LinkedIn by Matt Damascen, an automotive electrification expert and engineer who has been involved in transportation refueling for years. And a bit of frolicking in some note comparisons.
Decarbonisation of transport
China currently has one-sixth the GDP per capita of the US, suggesting that China should be buying fewer, if any, new EVs if price levels were truly an issue. Instead, China is buying 6x as many EVs as the US every year right now.
Since 2007, China has built 25,000 miles of high-speed electrified passenger and freight railways, enough to circle the equator, with speeds of 220 mph for passengers and 80 mph for freight, and is connecting neighboring countries such as Vietnam to its network. The U.S. has not built any high-speed rail, and the nation’s total electrified railroad miles has declined since its peak in the 1930s.
China has about 500,000 electric buses on the roads of its cities and towns, and major cities have almost fully electrified trucks and garbage trucks. The US may be approaching 1,500 buses and is just starting to receive the first electrified city and truck vehicles.
Decarbonisation of electricity
China built as much renewable energy as the rest of the world in 2021, with a combined 53 GW of solar, 48 GW of wind, and its very lofty 2030 targets are likely to be met by 2026. The United States built 25 GW of wind and solar combined in 2021.
China currently has more than 50 GW of pumped hydro power under construction, has just commissioned a 3.6 GW facility this year, and plans much more firmly. The US has no pumped hydro plants under construction and none approved or funded for construction.
In 2021, China put into operation the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant, the Three Gorges Dam. The United States is the global leader in breaking down its dams, with 57 removed in 2021 alone.
China built as much offshore wind in 2021, 17 GW, as the rest of the world combined in 2021 alone. The US built no offshore wind in 2021 and operates two small offshore wind farms totaling 42 MW, roughly 0.25% Chinese deployment in 2021.
China is building more nuclear power plants than the rest of the world combined. The United States is experiencing a net loss of nuclear power plants, with most of the fleet nearing the end of their normal life, barring a significant and costly renovation by 2035.
Since 2009, China has built roughly 21,000 miles of high-voltage direct current transmission to bring renewable electricity from locations across the vast country to demand centers, building an Asian supergrid that will connect its neighboring countries into a continent+ of 4 billion people. and seriously proposed building a transpolar HVDC supergrid to connect all northern continents. The US recently blocked an HVDC link from Canada to bring more low-carbon hydro from Quebec to New York, and is limited to futile attempts to reuse existing transmission from small coal towns with hydrogen storage and small nuclear plants because they can’t build. new gearbox.
Production of decarbonization technologies
China produces about 50% of the world’s e-bikes, has most brands and many more models of e-bikes than the rest of the world, buys a huge number of them for commuting and errands, and produces a very large percentage of electric scooters and other personal electric vehicles. The US mostly buys electric mountain bikes and recreational bikes from a limited number of relatively expensive manufacturers.
China has 6/10 of the largest solar panel manufacturers and 3 of the top five locations and 7/10 of the largest wind turbine manufacturers. The US ranks 6th and 10th in solar, and only has GE on the wind energy list, continuing to fall in the rankings.
China refines most of the most important battery metals globally, including lithium and nickel, with a 72% share of the battery materials market. The US has 8.5% of this market, with virtually no lithium refining.
China has a carbon emissions market in operation that is already three times the size of Europe’s. The United States has no national carbon price in place, 11 states participate in carbon and trade despite a lack of national leadership, and a proposed carbon cap adjustment disguised as an anti-China protectionist bill that would include domestic emissions is politically dead. Manchin’s hands.
China is well on its way to meeting its (admittedly weak) 2030 Paris Agreement targets many years ahead of schedule. The watered-down US law, if passed and implemented, would achieve about 50% of its 2030 Paris Agreement goals.
China’s CO2 emissions per capital city are 8.2 tons per year and with very rapid electrification and decarbonized electricity building will peak no later than 2030. US CO2 emissions per capital city are 13.7 tons per year and will likely never fall below China’s level.
China has reforested and reforested a net 40 billion trees since 1990, covering an area larger than the size of France. The United States has increased forest cover by 0.0016% of that amount since 1990, despite being slightly larger by land area.
China has firm targets to cut carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve a net-zero economy by 2060, which analysts see as in line with global warming requirements, and is on track to meet those targets ahead of schedule, while consistently under-promising and over-delivering. The U.S. has set climate goals, but has consistently overshot and underachieved, and outside observers of its political landscape see it as much less likely to stay the course.
Education and innovation
The literacy rate in China is 96.8%. The literacy rate in the US is 88%.
China produces more than 50,000 STEM PhD graduates annually and is expected to have twice the number of STEM PhD graduates than the US by 2025. About 33,000 STEM PhDs are awarded annually in the US, and the number of PhD candidates is much slower.
China’s citizens and companies apply for 1.3 million patents annually. US citizens and companies file about 0.6 million patents each year.
China’s GDP is set to be the largest in the world by 2035, and it is investing in health, education and infrastructure. The US has spent four decades spending money on tax cuts for the wealthy and its military, failing to invest in health care, education and infrastructure, and is experiencing declining life expectancy, declining educational attainment and crumbling infrastructure.
The Chinese yuan is gaining significant traction as a global reserve and trade currency, with 85% of central bank reserve managers holding or intending to hold it. The US dollar as a reserve currency has been in decline since 2000, which has recently accelerated with the use of the currency as a diplomatic weapon (a better option than military action, but with long-term strategic consequences) and global reserve currency status, which until now has allowed the US to cut taxes for the wealthy and overspending on the military without significant economic consequences.
Net immigration to China has been stagnant for years, its citizens spread across the globe, and more than 120 million Chinese citizens hold passports. Net immigration to the US has been falling sharply since 2015, with the US Census Bureau reporting just over 200,000 in 2021, nearly 50% of the US Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their children, and only about 110 million Americans holding passports.
China has lifted 850 million of its citizens out of poverty since 1980. Since 1980, the United States has seen real income decline for 80% of its citizens.
China has ratified and remained in the Kyoto Protocol, ratified and remained in the Paris Agreement, and ratified the Kigali Amendment dealing with refrigerants with high global warming potential. The U.S. has left both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, the upcoming November midterms could destroy all climate action, and any administration change to a Republican president in 2024 would likely see the U.S. leave major international climate agreements again.
China has been instrumental in major new global trade agreements and major economic and financial institutions, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its successor, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the BRICS-focused New Development Bank, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. The US has backed out of major trade deals like the TPP, launched trade wars and implemented protectionist trade policies.
China has had massive trade and joint tourism with Taiwan, an island 110 miles off its coast, over the past 15 years, and does not send senior government officials to Cuba, an island 140 miles off the US coast, or sell arms to Cuba. The U.S. continues to embargo Cuba, preventing joint visits or tourism, preventing U.S. companies from doing business with the country, and the U.S. sells significant arms to Taiwan and just had its third-highest official visit the island.
The US maintains 750 international military bases and spends more than nine other countries combined on its military, spending 3.8% of the world’s largest GDP today on defense and offensive technology. China maintains three international military bases and spends less than 1.8% of its GDP on the military, including the 60,000 troops it sent a few years ago to plant trees.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been joined by 139 countries around the world, and China provides low-interest loans to governments to build and own wind, solar, storage, transmission and rail projects around the world. The US has been trying to block the Belt and Road Initiative and strongarm countries from joining, with almost zero success, and couldn’t sell a Central American HVDC backbone to South America domestically to provide any evidence that the US could engage in such a thing. the scope of the Belt and Road initiative, so he abandoned the attempt.
This is by no means to say that there aren’t things China should be criticized for and held accountable for, and that every country shouldn’t have prescient Chinese strategies—not that many, it seems, and certainly not the U.S.—but that the narrative, that Americans and many Europeans share about China and themselves is out of line with observable reality, and the US is in considerable danger of economic decline even as the world improves.
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