Can China’s top-down approach fix its environmental crisis?

guardian photo
 

China has the largest and one of the most dynamic clean tech sectors in the world. The close to $90bn invested in clean tech last year puts it well ahead of both the EU and the US. For all the recent troubles of companies such as Hanergy, China has some of the world’s largest solar, wind and other green tech companies. As growth slows in western markets, they are increasingly looking for business at home.

There is good reason for this too. China burns almost half the coal in the world, and accounts for 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions each year. Emissions from coal plants in China are responsible for a quarter of a million premature deaths a year.

China’s leaders know that they have a problem. They know that time is running out on the “get dirty, get rich, get clean” strategy pursued by the west. The bill for its environmental degradation is too high for its own people.
 
Originally published in The Guardian. Can be accessed here.