This news from China is not encouraging:

Beijing has settled on a national standard for methanol as an automotive fuel, a decision which will legitimise and bolster a market that has been growing rapidly without central government approval …

By the time the plants, which convert coal to liquids, start producing in 2011 to 2013, China’s oil demand will have doubled, allowing methanol to supply about 10 per cent of the market.

Consider that for a moment: China’s oil consumption is expected to double in five years or so. Mind-boggling.

Now, I have no idea what the figures are for CO2 emissions when liquid fuels are made directly from coal, as opposed to indirectly from coal (like coal-fired ethanol production). But it’s pretty clear that China is betting big on coal-based liquid fuels in the future.

On the one hand, this is a smart bet for China — they have massive domestic coal reserves and are even more concerned about unreliable oil imports than America is. But the problems are clear as well: China is locking in a coal-dependent infrastructure, and is not nearly as concerned about climate change.

Yet another example of the problems of emphasizing security of supply rather than the climate crisis.