China’s economy is growing along with the nation’s efforts to combat climate change. The nation is an increasingly competitive leader in low carbon thanks to its renewable energy initiatives, sustainability efforts, and reductions in CO2 and HCFCs.
The latest economic reports out of China indicate that the country has increased its rate of growth. The Chinese economy grew by 7.8% in the third quarter of 2013 compared to a year earlier, the highest growth rate so far this year. Foreign investment in China rose to $8.8 billion (US), marking a 4.9% increase over last year. Manufacturing output recorded double-digit growth for the second month in a row, expanding by 10.2% in September. Credit Suisse expects the Chinese economy to grow by 7.6% in 2013 and 7.7% in 2014.
China has pledged to cut carbon emissions per unit of economic output by as much as 45 percent before 2020 from 2005 levels. China is working on reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 8 billion tonnes. To help meet these goals China may invest another 2.3 trillion yuan in key energy-saving and emission-reducing projects and the environment ministry is also considering stricter controls on vehicle and industry pollution. The Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol will provide China $385 million over the next 17 years to completely eliminate its industrial production of HCFCs by 2030.
China is also exploring a national emissions cap and trade system which started with seven Chinese cities and provinces in 2012. The country plans to expand its carbon trading pilot program starting in 2015.
According to the Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index earlier this year, China is one of the top three G20 economies that are best prepared to compete in a low-carbon economy. Due in large part to its clean energy investments, China went from seventh to third place. Going forward China is expected to prosper in a low-carbon and clean energy future.
A report released in March, 2013 by The Conference Board found Chinese companies are slowly adopting sustainability reporting practices. One-third of companies surveyed in China now share their sustainability initiatives with the outside world.
China leads the world in installed renewable energy capacity (both including and excluding hydro). Since 2006 we have seen 10-15 GW of annual additional renewable energy. Renewables now provide more than a quarter of China’s electricity generating capacity. By 2050, clean energy is expected to provide half of the nation’s energy consumption.
China is massively deploying renewable electricity generation including hydropower, wind, biomass and solar. China’s spending to develop renewable energy may reach 1.8 trillion yuan ($294 billion) between 2010 and 2015.
China has put forth policies that support renewables with ambitious targets.China’s Medium to Long-Term Renewable Energy Plan launched in 2007 has shaped sectoral policies and helped to grow renewables. In 2012 the National Energy Administration released draft renewable portfolio standards which would replace the mandatory share program target, it proposes targets averaging 6.5% from non-hydro renewables by 2015.
Investment in renewable energy has risen steadily in China over the last decade, with the wind and solar sectors hitting a record $68 billion in 2012. China has the world’s largest wind power installation capacity and annual wind energy additions are steadily in excess of 10 gigawatts (10 GW) over the last four years. Wind energy is the cheapest among the nations renewable energy options and domestic wind turbines technologies appear to be catching up with foreign companies. The government aims to have 100 gigawatts of wind-power installed capacity by 2015.
Solar and biomass-fired electricity are expected to grow ten-fold over the period 2010-2020. The government aims to have more than 35 gigawatts of solar power by 2015.
Even China’s Petrochemical Corp., (Sinopec Group), said it will invest 22.9 billion yuan on an environmental protection plan.
China and Russia plan to expand cooperation on energy projects, including renewable energy and energy efficiency.
However, China also hopes to work with Russia on natural gas, coal and oil. In September, China imported more oil than any other country in the world with net imports of about 6.47 million barrels a day of crude and products. A September Wood Mackenzie report titled “Russia’s pivot east: the growth in energy trade with China,” estimated Russia’s energy trade with China could quadruple by 2025, to more than 100 million tons of oil equivalent. The report cited Beijing’s $25 billion investment towards the construction of the second stage of the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline in return for guaranteed crude supplies. The report suggests that Russia could become China’s most important single energy supplier for some decades to come.
Despite all of its prodigious efforts, China, is still the world’s biggest carbon emitter and as evidenced by its increasingly close energy ties with Russia, the nation is destined to remain a massive importer of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.