China: New Champion for the Environment?
All eyes have been on Trump since the beginning of the year. Everyday people ask me if he will he wipe out the environmental progress of the recent years? Everytime I answer yes, but less than one might think.
His biggest obstacle might be China.
Indeed, the headline in China at the beginning of 2017 was not the election of Donald Trump, but rather the smog that once again shrouded the country, including its capital city Beijing. Air quality was so bad that flights were canceled, highways were closed, and municipalities banned circulation of half their traffic. Schools were forced to close, in order to reduce not only traffic but also to reduce children's exposure to air pollution, which alone causes 750,000 deaths each year. The image of Beijing commuters wearing pollution masks has became commonplace.
Coal, so dear to Donald Trump’s heart, has long fueled China's incredible economic boom, but today the country can literally no longer breathe. China is the largest coal consumer in the world but it aims to reduce coal’s share in its energy balance from 64 to 58% by 2020. This may not seem like much, but for a huge country like China, this is an enormous turnaround.
Last January, China canceled construction of 103 coal-fired power plants. It wants and WILL reduce its dependence on the dirtiest fossil fuel.
China already has the means to power its industries running at full tilt even as its 1.3 billion inhabitants consume more and more.
Solar, wind and hydropower are now near the bossom of the Middle Kingdom. China has been investing heavily in clean power generation facilities for several years now, including $ 102.9 trillion in 2015 alone. It will soon own close from 46% to 40% of the world's renewable energy facilities, ahead of the United States.
With plans to invest $ 361 billion in renewable electricity production by 2020, resulting in 13 million new jobs. China has become, by far, the leader in the renewable energy sector.