We must confess, dear readers, that this week was something of a slog. We just barely made it to Friday without collapsing in a heap from exhaustion, so low were we on energy. But by the looks of things we’re not the only ones.
For Exhibit A we’d point you to the IPO of none other than China’s Energy Engineering Corp., the blokes behind high-profile hydropower endeavors including the Three Gorges Project—exactly the kind of concern you’d expect to draw in investors from all corners. But the listing proved anything but electric, coming in well toward the low end of its predicted share price range.
More invigorating was the announcement of new reforms planned for domestic electricity grid companies meant to spur competition among said state-owned, sclerotic power purveyors. Whether it truly jolts them from their socialist stupor we couldn’t say, but China’s energy needs are legend—and only growing. Late this week news broke that Iran was extending its China oil contracts – which account for roughly half the former’s exports – into 2016. But China gives as good as it gets, mind you, as this week it pledged $1.2 billion in loans to restore a coal-fueled thermal power plant in Zimbabwe.
And certainly Beijing had powerful incentives to point domestic eyes elsewhere, as we began the week shrouded in smog dense enough to give even a chain-smoking Shanxi coal mine boss pause. Perhaps it was really no cause for concern, since after all Environment Minister Chen Jining helpfully announced China had achieved the pollution targets it set five years ago with six whole months to spare.
And as the plague of haze lifted on Wednesday, the People’s Daily – ever-sensitive to citizens’ needs – was quick to announce China would reduce emissions of major pollutants from the energy sector by 60% by 2020, or roughly where everyone expects them to end up by then anyways. Of course, not a few headlines mistook this for a new pledge to cut carbon emissions, coming as it did so close to the opening of a United Nations climate change summit in Paris.
Perhaps such common conflations of pollution and CO2 were why President Xi Jinping felt emboldened to call on developed nations to provide more funding to help developing nations around the world develop green energy sources… right before he hopped on a jet to Africa, where he inked the abovementioned deal to provide loans to develop coal power in Zimbabwe. And if that doesn’t give you a jolt, dear readers, we’d suggest looking for the nearest defibrillator.