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Changhua Wu: Welcome to the new China, leading the global cleantech economy

Date
29 August 2014
Changhua Wu: Welcome to the new China, leading the global cleantech economy

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, writes about the continuing cleantech investment innovation that is distinguishing China as an emerging leader of the global clean revolution.

Welcome to the new China. Yesterday the country was known for being the planet's biggest energy consumer and producer in the world, and importantly, the biggest carbon emitter. Today it is proving to the rest of the world that cutting emissions and investing in clean energy need not stem economic growth

Just a few days ago, Premier Li explained that China's emissions dropped in a year when the economy is continuing to hurtle ahead of any other in the world. In fact, China’s carbon emissions could peak by 2030 - even as the economy grows at a rate of 4-5%.

While coal imports remain high in the first half of 2014, there was only a 0.9% increase, which is promising when compared to last year's 14% rise. Coal consumption is also considered likely to peak by 2025, according to recent analysis.

At the same time, China's non-fossil energy supply more than doubled from 2005 to 2013. The country now claims the crown as the world’s largest investor in clean energy, ploughing US$68 billion into clean energy development in 2012 and a similar total of US$54 billion last year.

Combined, this data nods to the fact China is finally using much less coal and far more clean energy for its huge production of electricity.

But the benefits of this low carbon economy are not just being reaped by China. The country's climate leadership is actually beginning to positively influence the rest of the world too. After all, as the second largest economy, if China fails to embrace and lead the low carbon economy, the world fails.

A case in point was highlighted in an influential op-ed for the World Economic Forum last week, by leading economist Lord Nicholas Stern. He argued that not only is China’s current low carbon strategy strong enough to be adapted by other countries, but that its leadership also raises hopes for an ambitious deal to be agreed at global climate talks in Paris next year.

Stern writes: “China’s deepening commitment to sustainability could improve the chances that the United Nations climate conference in Paris in 2015 will produce a global agreement.” 

This 'deepening commitment' has been proven by a number of factors, but most importantly in the government’s pioneering 'Eco Civilization' low carbon strategy. Public support for the plan was spurred by China's spiralling smog problems in major economic hubs such as Beijing and Shanghai, which were worsened by coal-fired power plants. Premier Li boldly responded by declaring a 'war on pollution' earlier in the year, garnering much-needed media attention.

Seven new emission trading schemes across China too, are considered by many as a first step toward a national carbon market.

As Stern suggested in his op-ed, other governments around the world should indeed follow in China’s footsteps. And international cooperation is key to this. China and other nations must share knowledge in order to cement real and lasting action to curb runaway climate change.

Thankfully, collaboration is already happening. For example, earlier in the summer, China and the US announced a series of pacts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. John Kerry, US Secretary of State worded it well when he remarked: “The significance of these two nations coming together can’t be understated. We are working hard to find a solution together that can have an impact on the rest of the world.”

China and the US also happen to be the biggest and most dynamic cleantech markets in the world. And cleantech investment and innovation is where I see the biggest opportunity for a prosperous, low carbon future. 

Which is why, from September 11-12, we are hosting the Global Cleantech Summit 2014 in Beijing.

Through a series of unique business panels, presentations, workshops and networking sessions, the Summit will provide a ‘match-making’ opportunity to bring together potential investors and cleantech companies from China and around the world, to form powerful new partnerships.

As well as convening key experts and speakers from finance, industry and business, government leaders will also join the Summit to show their political support for low carbon growth. The Summit will offer clean technology innovation and investment as a key solution to meet China’s fast-growing energy demands and the global climate challenge. And it will give new business leaders from other nations a chance to obtain insight on entering Chinese markets to provide their services.

China is now leading the way for the global cleantech economy. And it welcomes you to be part of its vibrant, low carbon future.

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Limited free tickets are available at Cleantech-Summit.org or follow the Summit wherever you are in the world by using hashtag #Cleantech2014.

For further information on attending the event, please contact Rita Zhang on rzhang@theclimategroup.org.

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