Political Greenwashing: US Exports Coal Pollution to Europe; What About China?

Courtesy of Mish.

While president Obama brags about clean energy advances in the US (mostly hot air and subsidies to uneconomic businesses), the US quietly exports pollution to Europe. Coal is a particular good example.

Please consider US Exports Help Germany Increase Coal, Pollution

LUENEN, Germany – One of Germany’s newest coal-fired power plants rises here from the banks of a 100-year-old canal that once shipped coal mined from the Ruhr Valley to the world. Now the coal comes the other way.

The 750-megawatt Trianel Kohlekraftwerk Luenen GmbH & Co. power plant relies completely on coal imports, about half from the U.S. Soon, all of Germany’s coal-fired power plants will be dependent on imports, with the country expected to halt coal mining in 2018 when government subsidies end.

Coal mining’s demise in Germany comes as the country is experiencing a resurgence in coal-fired power, one which the U.S. increasingly has helped supply. U.S. exports of power plant-grade coal to Germany have more than doubled since 2008. In 2013, Germany ranked fifth, behind the United Kingdom, Netherlands, South Korea and Italy in imports of U.S. steam coal, the type burned in power plants.

On the American side of the pollution ledger, this fossil fuel trade helps the United States look as if it is making more progress on global warming than it actually is. That’s because it shifts some pollution — and the burden for cleaning it — onto another other country’s balance sheet.

“This is a classic case of political greenwashing,” said Dirk Jansen, a spokesman for BUND, a German environmental group. “Obama pretties up his own climate balance, but it doesn’t help the global climate at all if Obama’s carbon dioxide is coming out of chimneys in Germany.”

It’s a global shell game that threatens to undermine Obama’s strategy of reducing the gases blamed for global warming and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem.

The explanation for Germany’s increase is simple: Coal is cheaper than alternatives, particularly natural gas. So, too, are the prices on the carbon market in Europe. Companies can afford to buy the right to release more pollution.

In the U.S., the opposite is happening. Any new coal-fired power plants will have to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground if the Obama administration gets its way. Few if any new coal plants are expected to be built.

But the U.S. and other countries have no problem supplying Germany and the world with coal.

Global Warming Slant

The article’s “global warming” slant is of course ridiculous. Yet, the article does expose the hypocrisy of the Obama administration on that subject. …

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