Promoting Clean Energy is in China’s own Self Interest
In the United States, there is a perennial debate over national policies to address climate change and promote clean energy. There is a constant drumbeat from special interests proclaiming the detrimental effects of such policies. While this debate continues in Washington, DC, China has already enacted policies and set future goals for ramping up clean energy.
Evidence abounds of China’s surge in this growing industry. They are now the largest user of clean energy, largest recipient of clean energy investments and the leader global manufacturer of most renewable energy technologies. But why has China embraced clean energy and climate policies, when the U.S. is still debating the wisdom of such policies?
Last week at a congressional briefing (“China’s Energy and Climate Initiatives: Successes, Challenges, and Implications for U.S. Policies”), Deborah Seligsohn, principal advisor to the China, Energy and Climate Program at World Resources Institute answered this question. “The key thing about China’s climate and energy policy is that they are doing this because it’s in their own self interest.” Energy security, environmental problems (including climate change), and economic growth/restructuring are among the major concerns driving the policy. China concludes that clean energy addresses those issues in an economically efficient manner.
“China really sees [clean energy] as an opportunity. This presents a challenge for the United States. Are we looking at this as a cost or are we looking at this as an opportunity? There is a whole new set of industries out there that we have the opportunity to develop new companies, new industry, new opportunities, new markets and are we going to be part of this or not,” states Seligsohn.
- Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) & World Resources Institute. Congressional Briefing: "China’s Energy and Climate Initiatives: Successes, Challenges, and Implications for U.S. Policies." 5 April 2011.
WWF Climate Change Blog:
- China Solidifies Itself as Clean Energy Powerhouse. 7 April 2011.
- China Releases Plan to Increase Renewable Energy Use. 23 March 2011.
- China is Racing Ahead in Clean Energy. 28 Oct. 2010.
- WWF Climate Blog section on China