The Great Paradox of China: Green Energy and Black Skies

Yale Environment 360, via Reuters, reports on China’s green revolution:

The experience of daily life in Beijing hardly gives the impression that the last year has been a watershed for the environment in China. Being in the capital, one can’t help but feel a little quizzical glancing at recent headlines from newspapers in Washington, New York, and London announcing China’s green-tech revolution. (This is what an eco-friendly revolution feels like?) It’s tempting to shrug and wonder whether the legacy of new green initiatives will be as lackluster as the “green Olympics” – or to feel blue at the lack of promised “blue skies.”

Yet for an entirely different perspective on China’s recent environmental progress, take the ultra-modern bullet train a half-hour southwest of Beijing to the port city of Tianjin. In just a little over four years, a mix of government and foreign investment has transformed this mid-sized Chinese city into the global manufacturing hub of the world’s wind power industry. China’s installed wind capacity has doubled in each of the past four years. Many experts seem reasonably optimistic that China could meet its ambitious renewable energy plans to derive at least 15 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. The country also is striving to reduce energy intensity per unit of GDP by 20 percent over a five-year period.

These two targets represent some of the most ambitious green goals in the world, and are expected to make China – in just over a decade – the world’s largest producer and consumer of alternative energy.

August 18, 2009 9:05 PM
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