Although reportedly the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and with a history of water pollution and contaminated food, China is planning a “green” restructuring of its unrelenting economic development path.
China’s ruling Communist Party is planning to implement measures that will see China at the forefront of “green” technology; aiming to make the country a leading producer of solar panels, wind turbines as well as electric vehicles.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said “Developing renewable energy vigorously is necessary for taking up the front line in the new round of global energy revolution.”
Governments and environmental groups in the West have welcomed the plans, particularly considering China’s reluctance to sign an international treaty on climate change, and say that the announcement has boosted the Chinese credibility ahead of the United Nation’s climate change summit, due to start next week in Cancun, Mexico.
“China’s participation will spark vital dialogue … into the game-changing, low-carbon technologies and policies we all need to make deep cuts in global emissions,” said Steve Howard, chief executive of the Climate Group, a London-based lobbying organisation.
China has set a target of reducing the carbon intensity per unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020. This will be achieved by developing dozens of new solar, wind, hydro and nuclear plants.
A range of national and regional projects are being used to support the development of clean energy. Banks are also encouraged to back such projects, and to withhold loans from heavily polluting companies.
However, coal-fired plants are the source of more than 90 per cent of China’s electricity generation, and some expect that this number will only fall to 85 per cent by 2020.