Beijing submitted a proposal for meeting its previously agreed obligations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), three days before the January 31 deadline laid out in the Copenhagen Accord. The government reaffirmed earlier climate mitigation policies to reduce carbon intensity by 40-45% on 2005 levels within the next decade, increase alternative energy utilization, and expand forest coverage.
Meeting these targets will require dramatic changes in energy consumption habits, but boosting alternative energy offers an attractive and profitable means of doing so. The government is investing billions of dollars in domestic alternative energy projects – encompassing wind, solar, and hydropower projects – with a view to making China an international leader in the sector. The revenues generated would help ease the losses of the country’s high-polluting coal industry while enabling greater energy independence.
As government subsidies for solar energy and massive wind farm projects drive both infrastructure development as well as new export technologies, China’s accession to the Copenhagen Accords is hardly a concession. A clear preference for domestic companies in these sectors has been demonstrated, but advanced alternative energy beyond China’s homegrown capabilities offers an entry point for foreign firms.