The last few weeks have marked the end of China’s 5-year goal of cutting energy consumption by 20 percent, and according to the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Zhang Ping, they’ve done it. China attempted to rebound against their energy-intensive development process by implementing rolling back outs and cutting the power to industry. While the effects of these strategies caused some in the public to voice concern, China remains to have made significant headway on its goal of cutting energy consumption.
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In recent years, China has overtaken the United States as the largest producer of greenhouse gases, particularly due to their aggressive development plans forthe past three decades. Apparently, that too has paid off – the Chinese economy has been posting a growth rate that averages around 10 percent for the past three decades as well.
The one rejoinder from that redevelopment was the energy it required. China has been guzzling down resources with no avail, leading some to point a finger at the country as a key player in global warming and as a major polluter contributing to the destruction of ecosystems. While China has argued it is a still an industrializing country deserving of industrial investment and economic growth, it nonetheless offered plans to drop energy consumption while continuing the road up economically. The question of whether these two can simultaneously happen or not has had policy makers every where scratching their head.
Now, with China’s 5-year report prepping to post the data on their claims, we’ll see just how possible it is.
If it turns out the claim is valid, other countries in the world, namely the United States, may begin to note of China’s policies. Recently, China has been aggressively approaching industry to cut pollution and increase efficiency, an order that if unmet, has resulted in forced closure. Already, about 2,000 steel and cement mills have been closed for their pollution with countless others sitting in the dark due to the mandatory rolling black outs.
Additionally, China has implemented such tools as lotteries for getting license plates. With congestion posing a serious problem in Beijing, China (one traffic jam lasted 10 days), the city decided to limit the amount of cars able to register. For 2011, a total of 240,000 license plates would be issued, about a third of how many were issued in 2010.
China has also come out as a strong advocate of using alternative energy as a serious player in the statecraft game. China has become the world leader in solar and wind, and has begun investing heavily in hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. To China, oil and gas are national security issues and, in many ways, the Achilles heel of the ever growing economic giant.
To get the people on board, they have implemented some social awareness programs, laying out huge canvass trees on the street that pedestrians paint full of leaves with their shoes stamped with environmentally safe green paint. This style of awareness raising has been seen on 132 roads and in 15 cities.
All in all, China has proved to be a model – albeit, a questionable one – of how to become more efficient in little time. Without a doubt, many of the policies and positions taken are drastic in nature and would hardly be able to be implemented in the United States, but the fact remains that they are effective. Then again, it remains to be true that, while more efficient compared to recent years, China continues to consume twice as much energy than it did pre-2000 development.
Still, people voice admiration for China and its aggressive style. Stephan Singer, the head of energy policy for the WWF environmental group noted, “We have substantive hopes in China, to be honest, that China will take the lead … to make the low-carbon economy, the high energy efficiency economy a reality in the coming years.”