It’s been a really green week in all sorts of ways, and not only because of the two-day global conference chaired by the United States to discuss climate change and in progress via computer screens. Mr Xi decided to take part as did the leaders of around 40 other countries, and there is a lot to discuss—the growing instability of the earth’s atmospheric blanket is now beyond unquestion, and China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has announced its goal of becoming carbon emission neutral by 2060. The central bank governor Li Gang said that hitting that goal will cost China nearly RMB 139 trillion ($21 trillion), which is not a small sum. China’s use of coal for power production continued to increase last year by 0.6%, and in 2019, coal accounted for 57% of energy production. For this year, as part of its efforts to hit the 2060 target, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said the aim is to cut coal use to below 56% of energy consumption. In other words, it’s really tough to end coal addiction. But at least climate issues are becoming a big deal globally—finally!!—and the Biden climate video conference follows a visit to Shanghai last week by John Kerry, the US climate envoy. US sec of state A. Blinken said that America is “falling behind” in the green economy, pointing out that China holds nearly a third of the world’s renewable energy patents and is the world’s largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles. It is marginally heartening that this has now been spotted.
Also worthy of continued scrutinizing is the situation of Huarong Asset Management, the state-owned dumping ground for non-performing assets from state banks. The amount of money misappropriated by the former head of Huarong, Lai Xiaomin, was the highest for any official since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, according to the judge presiding over the case. But the markets are more concerned about the $22 billion of dollar-denominated bonds owed by the company. It is clear that the Center will bail Huarong out, but the precise terms are still not known. It is a symbolic case for a number of reasons, and is testing the limits of the market assumption that no such state companies will ever be allowed to fail.
Meanwhile, the CFO of Huawei, and daughter of its boss, Meng Wanzhou, gained what is presumed to be an advantage by getting a stay of three months on the final session of the Canadian extradition proceedings which have already dragged on for more than two years while she remains under house arrest in Vancouver. HSBC is providing extra and relevant documents in the case, her lawyer said. It’s an interminable saga, not least for her, but the wheels of justice turn slowly and are now being slowed even further.
Enjoy the weekend.