Clean Revolution leader: China

27 February 2012

This summarized case study is one of an initial set of eight success stories which illustrate the emerging global leadership of the Clean Revolution. The full-length case study - plus the other seven case studies and more information on The Clean Revolution - can all be found at

China: The world leader in creating economic value from clean technology

China has impressed the world with the speed and scale with which it can deliver low-cost, clean technology to the planet in the last five years, it has installed the world’s largest wind-power capacity, become the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels and begun to develop markets for electric vehicles (EVs) andLED lighting

China’s commitment to being the leading global manufacturer and implementer of clean technology is bringing large economic benefits to China’s clean technology companies. By 2009, China had developed from a non-player to the world leader in creating economic value from clean technology. And in 2010, $51 billion of the global $234 billion invested in new clean energy projects was deployed in China.

Innovative leadership

By promoting these strategic emerging industries, we will accelerate the strategic transformation of our economy and society... and build an innovative nation.

- Hu Jintao, President, People’s Republic of China

China’s 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) makes it clear that the Government sees clear economic opportunities in reducing energy use and carbon emissions. A key component of the FYP is the development of seven ‘strategic emerging industries’ (SEIs) signaling China’s intention to balance its growth with ‘social harmony’ and ‘environmental sustainability’, four of which are closely tied to clean technologies. This sets an international precedent in tying a nation’s future economic growth to the growth of the clean technology sector. Furthermore, the plan sets long-term growth goals and engages a wide range of industrial sectors and provincial and city governments.

China's plans on clean technology respond to a complex set of strategic, social and financial drivers. The Strategic Emerging Industry plan, a key element of China’s current 12th Five Year Plan, seeks to improve the nation’s competitiveness, energy security and rate of social development. Setting bold targets and seeking continuous improvement have been key traits of China’s success to date in developing clean technologies.

A better future for all

Although China is seen as a world leader in generating economic benefits from clean technology, it does face challenges. 

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences believes that over the next two years the economy is not likely to slow down and that the investment rate in large-scale industry could grow rapidly, especially in Midwestern provinces, which will overwhelmingly be based on high-carbon sources of fuel.

There is also limited regional coordination and balance amongst regional governments’ plans for SEIs, coal-generating capacity will increase - outstripping new energy growth in 2015, and China’s ‘new energy industry’ includes nuclear and hydro power, which are two very controversial topics in China because of the Fukushima disaster in nearby Japan and public scrutiny of the Three Gorges Dam project. 

But with $690 billion annual gross economic output expected from the energy and environmental project industry sector by 2015 and $230 billion in annual gross economic output expected of the new energy industry by 2020, coupled with the fact China's aiming for 1 million electric vehicles on the road and 30% of the general lighting market to be supplied by LED lighting by 2015, the nation looks set to maintain its title as a world leader in clean technology.

This case study draws on research commissioned by HSBC bank and published in Delivering Low Carbon Growth – A Guide to China’s 12th Five Year Plan.

Read more about China and explore the other seven case studies at

Your leadership

China's leading work is just part of The Clean Revolution. Your leadership will drive The Clean Revolution - and your leadership is needed now. We’re looking for business and government leaders who can either help support the campaign or provide us with compelling case studies. Contact us now, to help us deliver a better, smarter, more prosperous future for all

Are you on Twitter? Then remember to use the #CleanRevolution hash tag to show its global leadership in action.

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