Bruce Usher: Red China, Green China

An op-ed in the New York Times looks at the clean energy market in China:

True, China has a long way to go before it can claim the mantle of global market leadership in . Unlike the United States, however, it has spent the last few years shaping its industrial policy to achieve precisely that goal.

China’s determination to become the global leader in clean tech has little to do with concerns for the environment and everything to do with jobs. For the foreseeable future, the greatest challenge for Beijing is to ensure full employment and rising income levels. The rapidly growing clean-technology sector is one of the few that can provide a sufficient number of new jobs. (Disclosure: I invest in clean energy in America and abroad.)

This wouldn’t be the first time China has taken economic advantage of opportunities resulting from climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, which caps greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe and Japan up to 2012, includes market-based mechanisms to promote the reduction of emissions at the lowest cost. The largest of these is the Clean Development Mechanism, which allows developing countries like China to generate credits from cuts in their greenhouse-gas emissions that are then sold to developed countries.