BLOG: China provides major climate hope as latest IEA report underlines that it is all about the developing world

Author: John Richardson

2021/10/18

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson.

A lot of the media coverage on the new International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook, which was released last week, was so, so parochial as it focused on the links between the study and the energy crisis in the West.

But one of the main points in the IEA report was that 70% of the investment in new energy and infrastructure needed to happen in the developing world if we were to keep the rise in temperatures below 1.5 degrees centigrade.

And the IEA underlined the arguments I've been making since the pandemic began - that lack of access to vaccines and the economic damage inflicted by COVID were slowing climate measures in poorer countries. The developed world is being desperately short sighted.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS, THOUGH: China's decision to no longer invest in overseas coal projects - along with its hugely important "common prosperity" policy pivot - offer tremendous hope. So does the EU's New Green Deal.

Here is an intriguing and hopeful prospect: a geopolitical battle between China, the EU and perhaps even the US, for influence in the developing world, using green development as a power tool. This would be a major improvement on the proxy wars between the US and the Soviet Union in the developing world during the Cold War.

FOR THE PETROCHEMICALS INDUSTRY, THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE HUGE. For instance, the IEA estimates that by 2050 global trade in critical minerals and sustainable hydrogen (blue and green hydrogen etc. carried in ammonia) could account for 80% of global energy trade, pushing oil and gas into the shade.

Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.