In an entirely unsurprising response to recently announced hefty US tariffs imposed on Chinese tire imports, Beijing is now launching its own probes of US imports. Except, we’re told, it’s not a response to tariffs. The Ministry of Commerce emphasized that the investigation is "not revenge" but rather an ordinary response to "domestic concerns." For those who believe that, we have another one for you: E3G, a climate change consultancy, has published another in what has been a series of rose-tinted welding-goggles reports predicting a green future for China, and that right soon. China is on track to meet its emissions targets, the report says, thanks to reforestation and a low-carbon transport sector. We certainly hope they are right. We have little doubt that official statistics will continue to paint a picture of increasing sustainability, but retain skepticism about how closely these statistics will resemble reality. The main problem is the assumption that China can and will create domestic high-tech infrastructure capable of transmitting solar and wind energy to the centers of demand. At present such a "smart-grid" power network is in the same category as hydrogen fuel cells: a nice idea and technically feasible, but a long, long way off. Without such a transformation, "low-carbon" transport may run on batteries, but the batteries will still be charged by coal power plants.
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