China breaks link between economic, emissions growth

Recent energy policies in China that encourage investments in renewable energy show that it is possible to experience strong economic growth while also reducing CO2 emissions.

According to a report by Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), China’s carbon emissions stalled even as the global economy grew by 3 per cent compared with 2013.

Arthouros Zervos, chair of REN21, called this “the landmark decoupling” of economic growth and carbon emissions, reports the New Scientist. He added that this accomplishment “is due in large measure to China’s increased use of renewable resources.”

China is the world’s biggest installer of wind, solar and hydroelectric power plants, according to the article. In 2014 it reduced coal burning for the first time ever.

Earlier this week the International Energy Agency predicted that it could be possible for the global economy to experience an 88 per cent growth by 2030 with an emissions growth of only 8 per cent. This is largely due to the falling costs of renewable energy.

But Ted Nace, director of the energy think tank CoalSwarm, warns that the report only presents a partial picture of China’s energy policies. “Domestically China is doing a good job of reining in coal power and developing renewables. But overseas, Chinese companies, with Chinese finance, continue to promote coal power in more than 30 countries, including India, Pakistan and Indonesia.”

There is little cause to celebrate so long as public subsidies worth trillions of dollars each year continue to sustain the fossil fuel industry, especially in developing countries, writes the New Scientist.


Photo credit: Matthijs Koster, flickr/Creative Commons

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