Image credit:banner heading from [Ask Heritage](http://www.askheritage.org/) website.
Suppose those reports about China's beating the USA at the renewable energy game are just so much *Happy Talk* by pundits in denial. Ever consider that possibility? It belongs with the darkest imaginable scenario, in which China's coal consumption overruns for decades all other national efforts to lower carbon emissions. A widespread view, here, that this is plausible would reinforce the notion that it is not worth it to invest further taxpayer money even in studying climate change. Only climate change adaptation would be left on the table as a worthwhile government intervention.
A Heritage Foundation staffer is supporting that view - a look at the darkest possible future for humanity - and in doing so raises questions that we will certainly see raised in the next election campaign. So get ready... Derek Scissors, of the Heritage Foundation, in Coal from here to eternity, lays out an argument that distills down to China getting approximately 80% of its electricity from coal. "The extent of China's addiction to coal is so great that a relatively small movement away is all that can be hoped for." he concludes.
My first reaction was "crap, he's right and we're doomed.'
Then, I thought, "... more of the usual spin and political messaging we've come to expect from Heritage."
**Important questions raised.**
- Is China really 80% dependent on coal for electricity and how fast is that number dropping?
- Does the Chinese government have a clear and credible plan to rapidly move away from coal, or does it not? (We in American do not, remember.)
- What are the metrics, and can we see them?
- Is there transparency on the progress being made?
The truth might lie anywhere in between world doom and pragmatic leadership by China; but, without pressure from the rest of the world, it is more likely to turn out 'doomish.'
So, thanks, then, to Foreign Policy blog, to Steve LeVine, and to Derek Scissors for raising the issues publicly - well before Iowa.
**Update**: Per [this information ](http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/04/07/green-upton-inhofe/)from a Congressional debate, > '...China is moving forward both with taxes on energy-intensive industries and cap-and-trade systems to limit carbon pollution. China also passed ambitious clean energy mandates in 2005 that are driving its explosion of green manufacturing. India imposed a carbon tax last year, and its energy efficiency progress is outstripping the United States.'