Wednesday, September 29, 2010

China, USA and Australia

This piece from The Age argues that the common claim that China is dependent upon the US consumer market is a flattering piece of self-deception and that China is largely economically dependent upon, well, China. Australia's place in this? Although we used to move in sync with the US economy, now Australian marches to a more Asian drumbeat. Is this good news for Australia when the US is struggling and China booming? Economically (measured in GDP at least) it has been, with Australia being the only OECD country to avoid a recession as the result of 2008 financial crisis.

It is somewhat ironic that Australia and China are two of the richer countries (putting China in the "very rapidly developing" basket and taking its riches collectively rather than per capita) more vulnerable to the ill-effects of climate disruption (and facing increasingly severe problems with water stress and soil degradation), yet our current and possible future shared wealth is significantly dependent upon the exploitation of climate-destroying coal.
However, I've just discovered that we don't export as much coal to China as I thought. It is less than 10% of our total coal market. Nonetheless, it is worth remembering that Australian coal exports are huge. This will become more common (as will this).