China is Racing Ahead in Clean Energy

Analysis and reports over the last year show immense Chinese commitment to clean energy. The country is making significant investments in this industry. A 2009 Breakthrough Institute report found that between 2009 and 2013, China is expected to invest $397 billion in clean technology. This is enormous compared to the U.S., which is projected to invest $172 billion—this sum is actually lower as it assumes the passage of comprehensive clean energy legislation which did not occur. According to China’s People’s Daily newspaper, China is attempting to solidify itself as the world leader as it’s poised to spend $750 billion (5 trillion yuan) over the next 10 years on new energy technologies.

This investment is helping propel China past the U.S. in installed renewable energy capacity. According to a 2010 Pew Environment Group report, “Who’s winning the clean energy race?” they’re on the verge of replacing the U.S as the world leader. If left unchallenged, this capacity coupled with enormous investments will impact U.S. job creation and economic prosperity. Should the investment gap persist between the U.S. and Asia, “the United States will import the overwhelming majority of clean energy technologies it deploys,” states a Breakthrough Institute report.

Wind Farm

A recent analysis from Australia’s Climate Institute, “Putting a Price on Carbon,” concluded that China is second only to the UK in the value of its clean energy incentives to cut pollution from electricity generation.  According to the report, most experts expect in China’s next Five Year Plan that direct pollution-pricing policies will be included. China’s overall policy suite (subsidies and renewable energy policies) has indirectly placed a price on carbon (US$14.20/ton), positioning them “as one of the world’s largest hubs of clean energy investment.” According to the report, China received US$35 billion in clean energy investment compared with U.S.’s US$18 billion.  

According to Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of Climate Institute, “China has now over taken Europe as the world’s clean energy superpower, attracting 10% of global investment in clean energy.” As stated by Jackson, in an AFP story, “The Chinese leadership have made a strategic decision that they missed out on the last two industrial revolutions and they don't want to miss out on the third one." 


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