It is widely reported that 80% of China’s power is derived from dirty coal and China recently surpassed the United States as the word’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Yet China’s per capita emissions remain a fifth that of the United States, and its historical cumulative per capita emissions from 1960 to 2005 are less than one-tenth that of the United States.
Still, the Chinese have recognized that it’s climate inaction — not climate legislation — that will lead to its own economic undoing. As the U.S. Congress debates, China has gone ahead with building its own low-carbon economy, laying the foundation for clean-energy jobs and innovation.
Julian Wong is a Senior Policy Analyst and Andrew Light is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and they have written a long and detailed report on this for the Climate Group.
According to this report China ranked second in the world in 2007 in terms of the absolute dollar amount invested in renewable energy. It spent $12 billion, which put it just behind Germany’s $14 billion.
These investments have placed China among the world leaders in solar, wind, electric vehicle, rail, and grid technologies. And now approximately 9% of China’s $586 billion economic stimulus package will go toward sustainable development projects and note that excludes rail and grid projects.
The Top 1,000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises program, which China started in 2006, sets energy efficiency benchmarks for the top 1,000 energy-consuming enterprises across nine sectors of heavy industry. Which covers 33% of China’s overall energy consumption, 47% of industrial energy consumption in 2004, and 43% of China’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2006.
This is the equivalent of removing 68 million to 100 million cars from the road.
China launched a rebate program in April 2008 to subsidize the purchase of energy efficient light bulbs by 30% on wholesale purchases and 50% on retail sales. . China subsidized 62 million bulbs by the end of January 2009.
The Center for American Progress then goes on to list a staggering amount of work that is being done to bring down energy consumption. This despite the fact that its per capita GDP and per capita emissions, both historical and present, remain a fraction of the United States.