China blows ahead with bold advances in green economy
By Thomas W. Pauken II · 2023-11-30 · Source: China Focus
Ten years ago, large parts of northern China were covered in thick smog that many dubbed, “airpocalypse.” I lived in Beijing at the time and was haunted by those winter months. Local residents of China’s capital city were in a daze since the smog lasted for days then weeks and even again and again for months.
The high intensity of air pollutants had gotten so troublesome on some days that schools were temporarily closed. By spring of that year, the winds had begun to blow and the smog started to lift; but for the next few years, Beijing had succumbed to occasional days of ‘Smog Alerts.’
Nonetheless, the Chinese government learned deep wisdom after witnessing the terrible impact of the ‘airpocalypse’ and shifted its focus to transition to a green economy by supporting the national development of renewable and green technologies.
Renewable are energy resources, such as solar, wind and hydropower. For reference, green technologies are connected to the production and consumption of renewable, along with utilizing tools to lower carbon emissions, improve water, air and soil for a cleaner and greener world.
Ever since the perilous ‘airpocalypse’ days, China has made remarkable achievements to lower carbon emissions nationwide and has emerged as the world’s leader in renewable production. No other country, including the United States, comes close in comparison.
China deserves praise for its efforts and we can anticipate much more progress on the horizon. This week, Dubai, United Arab Emirates is hosting the COP28 Summit and the city would welcome over 70,000 diplomats, business leaders and activists from over 195 countries and regions across the globe.
World taking notice of China’s green progress
A high number of Climate Change experts are recognizing that China plays a crucial role to lower carbon emissions worldwide and pave the path for many other countries to achieve their “carbon neutral” targets. Chinese enterprises have marched ahead on producing renewable at sky-high levels, but also lowering the costs, while increasing the efficiency of solar, wind and hydropower generation capacity. The results speak for themselves.
China Daily cites a report by Bloomberg News disclosing that global investment in renewable energy in 2022 stood at nearly half $1 trillion. China alone accounted for 55 percent of the total. Chinese entities had invested over $164 billion in new solar installations and another $109 billion in wind energy.
By the end of 2022, China had installed 392 gigawatts (GW) of solar plants that were operational. In terms of installed onshore and offshore wind energy generation, China shored up more than 310 GW by the end of 2022, which is nearly double from what it had been in 2017.
President Xi Jinping announced in December 2020 that China intends to triple its solar and wind generation capacity by 2030. Apparently, the experts are forecasting that China would likely exceed its target before 2025.
China is also taking tremendous strides in the mass production of electric vehicles and has become the world leader in the EV market and holds a dominant position in the EV battery industry. Chinese enterprises engaged in EVs are ramping up supply chains in the overseas markets.
Chinese companies have found innovative methods and kept manufacturing costs low to make EVs much more attractive for drivers as end buyers. Historically, consumers worldwide were reluctant to purchase EVs, since they worried the vehicles were expensive, EV batteries were not reliable for long-distance transportation and they had long been accustomed driving gas-fueled vehicles.
Partnering up with Morocco as hub for green manufacturing
The Chinese government has highlighted its grand diplomatic initiative, the Belt & Road Initiative introduced by President Xi in 2013. Beijing supports joint projects on building major infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, airports and more to increase cross-border trade and investments among participating nations and regions of the BRI sphere.
In recent years, the BRI has placed special emphasis on the ‘Green Silk Road’ to jumpstart the green economy. The northern African nation, Morocco, has enjoyed splendid benefits by drawing closer ties with China and supporting the BRI. The two countries are coalescing together on green manufacturing development.
A Chinese-sponsored manufacturing and technology zone is under construction and lies just outside of Tangier, Morocco. The Mohammed VI Tangier Science and Technology City is located 27km across from the Spanish southern coast at the Strait of Gibraltar, which flows between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Mediterranean Sea to the east.
The $1 billion tech city is expected to welcome over 200 Chinese companies, positioning Morocco as a gateway to the European, Middle Eastern and African markets. As reported by the South China Morning Post, Morocco has close proximity to Europe, while holding an abundance of critical minerals. The kingdom offers tax incentives and free-trade agreements with the European Union and the United States, which have lured in a rising number of Chinese companies connected to the EV sector.
Chinese battery parts maker CNGR Advanced Material announced last September that it was joining in with the Moroccan private investment fund Al Mada to build a $2 billion industrial base.
Pursuing the gold standard in the green economy
In the past decade alone, China has earned distinction for its progress towards an eco-civilization as President Xi has led the way forward. By reviewing his speeches and public statements, the Chinese President has placed special significance on reducing pollution and supporting the sustainable development in the country.
Consequently, China stands tall as a world leader in renewable and green technologies. Meanwhile, the U.S. is the world’s largest economy in GDP but China has outpaced the U.S. in the green economy.
Nevertheless, Beijing and Washington have agreed to cooperate further on tackling climate change and that’s a gamechanger for the world at large. Beijing is playing the role as a responsible leader in the green economy and that will usher in more ‘blue sky’ days for all Chinese cities in the foreseeable future.
The days of smog and high pollution levels in the country will be gone and all people in China can breathe fresh air. By embarking on the eco-civilization journey, China will emerge much richer.
Thomas W. Pauken II is author of “US vs. China: From Trade Wars to Reciprocal Deal", geo-political analyst on Asia-Pacific affairs, based in Beijing.