Bloomberg News’ article describing the many economic and environmental incentives for China to keep shifting to clean energy is a must-read.
Beijing’s air quality fell short of national standards on 179 days last year. That’s one reason why the world’s biggest coal consumer is likely to stick with its plan to clean up its energy supply — regardless of what President-elect Donald Trump does in the U.S.
“At the current stage of China’s economic growth, the industries and the models that the nation has developed all face constraints related to the environment and resources,” said Xuan Xiaowei, a senior research fellow at a government think tank called the Development Research Center of the State Council. “Environmental pollution is so serious. Can it work without green development?”
By any account, China must curb environmental pollution to keep its public happy. About 80 percent of the 338 Chinese cities regularly monitored by the environment ministry failed to meet official standards last year, the ministry says. Resentment about worsening pollution has created cottage industries of everything from smartphone applications to low-cost monitoring devices to keep track of air quality.
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China has been the biggest clean-energy investor since 2012, spending $384.7 billion in that period on clean sources of energy such as wind and solar power. And it’s holding onto that lead. According to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China invested $48.1 billion in new clean energy projects so far this year, compared with $9.6 billion in Japan and $32.6 billion in the U.S.
The results of all that spending are gradually beginning to appear. Coal accounted for 64.4 percent of total energy consumption last year, down 1.7 percentage points from the previous year while the share of non-fossil fuels rose by 0.8 percentage points to 12 percent, the government said in January.
“Investing in cleaner energy will help China to gain economic benefits and improve the transition of its energy structure,” said Zheng Xinye, associate dean at the School of Economics at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.