Why China is going to hell for its coal, gold and other assets
China’s coal industry has been suffering for months.
But the country is going down the same road as other major coal producers: it’s just taking on too much debt to finance the massive investments that it has already made to build up the domestic market for coal.
And that’s the crux of what’s happening in China’s energy market.
The world’s biggest coal producer is spending billions of dollars to keep its industry solvent, and it’s trying to keep coal prices down as it struggles to make new investments.
But China’s debt is getting too big.
In just the past few years, China has racked up a staggering $2.7 trillion in debt, according to a new report by Credit Suisse.
As the coal industry continues to struggle to meet growing demand, Chinese regulators are now demanding more stringent environmental regulations that could mean the country’s coal mines could become the next major source of pollution for the country.
Credit Suisse analysts have warned that the “risk of a catastrophic collapse” of the coal sector in China is increasing by the day, and the country may have to use even more draconian measures to meet its carbon pollution targets.
“In a world with rising carbon emissions, China will need to find a way to keep the market competitive while simultaneously reducing its own exposure to CO2,” said Peter J. Lee, the Credit Suise Global Head of China-Europe Energy and Environment Risk Management.
For now, China is investing heavily in its coal-heavy economy.
Its massive coal-mining project in Zhanjiang, China, is now the biggest single source of carbon pollution in the world.
China’s coal imports are now a massive $4.4 trillion annually, and many of the country, including the coal mines, are heavily subsidized by the government.
Even though China’s carbon pollution emissions have been falling for years, the country still faces massive environmental concerns, such as pollution from coal plants and mines, and rising land-use and population growth.
It’s a scenario that will likely only get worse as China’s economy continues to grow.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that China has committed $1.6 trillion to help finance its coal and oil industries in the coming years.
That includes a new coal-miner loan from the government of President Xi Jinping, and a loan from China’s state-owned enterprises, such the coal companies, that have been heavily subsidized for decades by the Chinese government.