Sinophobia & COP26 – watch out!

As expectations of the Chinese not being there at COP26, we have to be careful it doesn’t lead to sinophobia

We should be mindful of the growing tide of sinophobia (anti-Chinese racism) in the world also creeping into the COP26 as the finger gets pointed at the Chinese being the biggest CO2 emission polluters in the world. 

Unfortunately, sinophobia has a long history as Chinese people have faced perceptions of being “unhygienic” and “dirty” long before coronavirus came along. As early as the 19th century Opium Wars, the Chinese nation was referred to as the “sickman of Asia” This slur took a literal turn as Chinese migrants around the world came to be associated with poor hygiene and proneness to disease. Are we about to see the same happen now with CO2 emissions as China gets painted as the “biggest polluter of the world” during COP26?  

The Chinese commitment towards net carbon zero in 2060 with carbon emissions peaking in 2030 has not only be verified by reputable third party like the International Energy Association (IEA) but its suggested by them that they will reach that net carbon figure much earlier than 2060. The IEA Director General Dr Birol states very clearly “This accelerated transition would put China’s CO2 emissions into marked decline after 2025, opening up the possibility of China reaching carbon neutrality well before 2060. This would be both good for China and good for the world.”

Furthermore alarm has been compounded by Chinese power cuts suggestions that will mean pushing them off their path. In fact some like Carbon Brief suggest the power shortages might accelerate China’s climate action as the State Council – China’s highest organ of state administration – issued six specific orders to deal with the power shortages in a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. 

This of course does not take on board, the historical levels of CO2 emissions already used per capita by countries. On this metric, using figures of the carbon emissions from fossil fuels per capita since 1850, we and he US have used more than our fair fossil fuel share, as the following diagram shows quite clearly. 

In this respect both China & India, the two largest countries in Asia, have not consumed more than 38 – 148 historical tonnes per capita so far. In comparison both the UK and US the figure ranges from 1,164-1,239 historical tonnes per capita. So both us and the Americans have already consume more than 8 times more than the Chinese have so far. Yet the there will a lot of pressure on the Chinese and India certainly on the coal front. 

So in light of these figures and being mindful of growing sinophobia, they should help stop the Chinese being seen as the “dirtiest polluter of the world”