China shows there's more to renewable energy than fighting climate change

von Dr. Peter Nagel

● By Prof. John Mathews and Dr. Hao Tan, University of Newcastle ●


With the failure of international agreements to fight climate change, the way is open to viewing the role of renewables as more than agents for reducing carbon emissions. Indeed is it possible for countries to build their manufacturing industries, enhance their energy security — and contribute to reducing carbon emissions?


In an article published today in Nature, we argue that China shows us just such a way. By boosting markets in water, wind and solar power, China is driving down costs and accelerating the uptake of renewable energy.


We argue that this is “contributing more than any other country to a climate-change solution”, and could be viable alternative to international climate agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, which has been so ineffective in cleaning up the world’s still carbon-heavy energy supplies.


But China’s large investments in renewables are best understood as enhancing the country’s energy security and not solely as a means of reducing carbon emissions.


Expanding renewable industry


This goes against the grain of most commentary on China, which sees the country as fully committed to a black, coal-fired energy future


But there is another, green side to China’s energy story – as argued on The Conversation by Ross Garnaut.


As the scale of Chinese manufacturing has grown — in our article we note that production of solar cells has expanded about 100-fold since 2005 — the costs of renewable-energy devices have plummeted. Countries such as Germany and South Korea, like China, are boosting their national renewable-energy industries and markets ...

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