Wind farm near Nan'ao. The current installed capacity is 60MW but will be increased to 200MW.
It's not a 'what if', this is the new reality in this huge
rapidlydeveloping country. China is uniquely positioned, with its
size,population and leadership of the developing world, to forge
the way forthe massive development of its abundant renewable energy
resources inprovinces such as Guangdong for wind and Xinjiang for
Ahead of last month's National People's Congress (NPC) the talk
wasof ending the 'cult of GDP' and of a 'Green GDP' which factors
in theenvironmental costs of economic development. The energy
sector is keyto this. China is seeking more aggressively to curb
pollution andaddress rapidly growing energy demands. The 2003 NPC
ordered thedrafting of a Renewable Energy Promotion Law by the end
of 2004. All ofwhich signals the intent of the Chinese government
to draw in themassive amounts of clean energy investments and
financing waiting to betapped from strong advocates of renewable
energy like the EU.
This week saw two further examples of China's intent. Earlier
thisweek a high level EU-China Conference on Renewable Energy
Policy andFinancing took place in Beijing. This was followed by
Renewable EnergyAsia 2004, running from 7th-9th April. This was
both a landmarkindustry event and a great indicator of political
intent as it wassupported and endorsed by many central government
Greenpeace was invited to erect a booth and to deliver
apresentation at the exhibition and had an international team of
energyexperts from China, UK, Philippines and the Netherlands at
the event.The fact that we were invited shows the seriousness and
deepeningengagement of the Chinese government with elements of the
environmentalsector of civil society and that Greenpeace's
relevance in China hasbeen recognised.
The reception Greenpeace received at and around the event
wasoverwhelming. In the words of Red, one of the breathless
Greenpeacerswho has just returned from the exhibition, "it was
inspiring and a veryclear indication of the support that Renewable
Energy has as thesolution to climate change, and of the role that
Greenpeace can play".
Greenpeace's climate campaign efforts were warmly received and
ourexhibition booth was inundated with visitors from
officialdom,industry, academia and the media. Several officials
working on BeijingOlympics 2008 projects demanded that we call them
back, and the Dean ofBeijing's University of Technology told us
that it was time forGreenpeace and China's academia to work
together on renewable energy.
in Beijing are all back in the office now taking a well earnedrest,
especially Robin and Donna from the UK and Yu Jie from China.Robin
is recovering from the experience of being interviewed by
China'sstate broadcaster, CCTV, as he's just had his mind blown
away onhearing the viewership figures. He's also recuperating after
sloppinghot tea over an official at a dinner the previous night,
although theonly burning was on Robin's blushing red cheeks. Donna
can now put herlaptop away after
'blogcasting'from the exhibition. Yu Jie, who only started
working with Greenpeaceone week ago, was both amazed at the
experience, and amazing in thework she carried out in a short
timeframe to prepare for the event. Toclose her presentation at the
exhibition, Yu Jie showed two Chinesecharacters - one meaning
danger (equalling climate change) and theother, opportunity
(equalling renewable energy). She followed this withthe statement
"the government of China has clearly recognised theproblem of
climate change and is taking steps to push for solutions, sois
Greenpeace - we should work together".
support from the top for renewable energy development in China
isdriven by the need to secure indigenous energy resources for
thenation's huge population and growing economy. China is committed
toavoiding the environmental costs of a burgeoning economy that
someother nations have failed to. Contrast this with the current
USAdministration's view of the Kyoto Protocol. The US continues
topromote its bogus 'alternative', and Russia's dithering threatens
theprotocol's future, while disappearing sea ice, melting
glaciers,floods, famine and drought lend new urgency to the need
for action onclimate.
The technologies are ready, the industry is growing, but
cleargovernment commitments in the form of targets to generate
financialconfidence and investment, from the EU and US in
particular, arecritical. Conventional energy sources worldwide
benefit from subsidiesworth around US$350 billion annually. That's
US$350 billion a year todestroy the planet and that doesn't include
the human, environmental orfinancial costs of the damage done. Just
imagine if those subsidies fordirty, dangerous energy were switched
to developing clean, safe,secure, renewable energy resources in
China, India, Brazil and Mexico.
China's energy consumption is huge and the challenges the
centralgovernment face in providing energy to its people and
industry aremind-blowing. But, if China follows the same
development pattern as thewest the problem will become much worse.
China could lead the world.
If China does adopt large scale renewable energy production,
thiswill boost worldwide markets, speed up technological advances
and allowChina to not only tip the balance of the global market,
but of ourplanet's ecological equilibrium as well.