A new article highlights concerns from experts that the potential denuclearization of North Korea could exacerbate man-made global warming, largely from coal exports to new markets in Asia.
Easing sanctions would allow North Korea to export coal and provide electricity to its oppressed population, foreign policy experts told E&E News in an article trying to connect the Paris climate accord to negotiations with the Koreans.
However, Daniel Kish of the free-market Institute for Energy Research pointed out North Korea’s communist dictatorship has kept its people poor, and largely without access to electricity, for decades.
Kish said the “climate media” is missing “the forest for the trees.”
“North Koreans reduce carbon dioxide emissions by eating, rather than burning, twigs. That’s what central control always ends up doing,” Kish told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
E&E News reported the U.S. and allies could end up electrifying North Korea with coal-fired power to take advantage of the country’s vast reserves of high-quality coal.
But is anyone really worried about the carbon dioxide emissions from increasing North Korea’s standard of living?
“Next we’re going to hear about how Venezuela’s carbon emissions are going down because socialism works so well,” Kish quipped.
North Korea’s communist dictators have kept their people poor for decades, subjecting them to forced labor and suffering through periodic famines.
U.S.-led sanctions have largely kept North Korean coal out of most markets, except for China. That is, until recently, when the United Nations slapped sanctions on North Korean coal exports last year in response to missile tests.
North Korea is heavily reliant on coal exports to fund its oppressive government.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime did sign onto the Paris climate accord with a promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions more than 37 percent, but experts don’t think that will factor into the Trump administration’s denuclearization talks.
Kim Jong Un called Trump’s withdrawing from the Paris accord “the height of egotism,” but Kim’s own pledge is dubious because it’s extremely difficult to verify if North Korea is actually cutting emissions — aside from driving its people further into poverty. Also, North Korea relies on coal exports for revenue.
However, any increase in carbon dioxide emissions from a Korean peace deal would have more to do with the policies of countries accepting coal shipments than with the north.
China’s pledged to “peak” emissions by 2030 as part of the Paris climate accord, meaning emissions will continue to grow for another decade or so. In fact, experts expect China’s emissions to grow 5 percent in 2018 because of a downturn in hydroelectric power from dams.
Japan plans on building 45 new coal-fired power plants to meet its future energy needs. Japan’s coal binge is the result of the country’s turning away from nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
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