Fighting pollution, securing energy: What is driving China to become a renewables superpower?

23 June 2017

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the largest builder of coal-fired power stations on the planet. But that is only half the story, as China is embarked on a huge industrialization effort that accomplishes in a few short years what Europe, the US and Japan took decades to achieve. The other half of the story is that China is also building a green power system and green industrial system that dwarfs that of any other country. Three charts tell the story, as outlined in the latest contribution from Hao Tan and myself (‘China’s Continuing Green Shift in the Electric Power Sector: Evidence from 2016’, Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, May 2017). The first indicates how China’s investment in renewable power capacity (from water, wind and sun) has now reached over a third of the country’s total capacity, and it is rising steadily upwards.

Read the full article on Luiss Open website.

New publication: Global Green Shift, John A. Mathews

Western industrialism has achieved miracles, promoting unprecedented levels of prosperity and raising hundreds of millions out of poverty in Europe, North America and most recently Japan. Industrial capitalism is now diffusing East, with China building the world’s largest industrial and manufacturing engine on the basis initially of fossil fuels, like all industrial powers before it. But as it does so China faces the inconvenient truth that the Western model will not scale; China finds itself facing geopolitical problems in sourcing fossil fuels abroad and immediate problems of pollution at home so severe that it has to find an alternative way. This alternative way is a Chinese version of ecomodernization, based on rapid urbanization, renewable energies replacing fossil fuels and a circular economy replacing linear resource throughput, all driven by the greening of finance. This is a feasible model in itself that is likely to prove attractive for other industrializing countries, where its diffusion will be driven by falling costs associated with manufacturing learning curves. That China’s solution involves low-carbon emissions is a convenient truth for the world as it grapples with climate change. The process of global green growth now under way is captured by the notion of economics meeting ecology – or Ceres meeting Gaia.

John A. Mathews is a management strategy scholar who has influenced global policies on the greening of industry. John will be the guest speaker at the Energy Centre’s Energy Matters series held on 20 September 2017 at the Business School. His recent publication gives an in-depth explanation of the issues facing humanity and the evolving solutions.

The publication is available from the Anthem Press website.

Register to attend the book launch held in Sydney on 14 July.

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