Earlier this week, Lloyd posted disturbing footage of smog rolling into Beijing. It’s real, tangible air quality and health issues like these that have made green energy and a shift away from fossil fuels a political imperative in China in a way they just don’t seem to be here in the US right now.
One more example of this: Reuters reports on new government plans to plough 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into green energy by 2020. Interestingly, the government seems to be stressing not just the health and environmental benefits of such a move, but jobs too. The plan should, they say, create 13 million jobs in the clean energy industries—a welcome boost at a time when China’s move away from polluting, heavy industries may also cost jobs in favor of cleaning up air.
Given current question marks over US commitment to climate action, this is one more welcome sign that progress will continue. And as more renewable energy infrastructure gets built, technology costs fall everywhere—leading to considerable disruption, even in markets where leaders would seek to delay.
It should be noted, of course, that while huge, $361 billion is unlikely to be enough to shift the country to a firmly clean energy pathway. By 2020, the government still predicts that only 15% of the country’s energy production will be, with coal still accounting for 58%.
Still, much like G7 commitments to complete decarbonization, moves like this are about more than just their specific goals and targets. They send a clear signal to markets about which way the wind is blowing, and once investment starts to shift, new and more ambitious pathways become possible.
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