After decades of strong economic growth and industrialisation, China’s environmental challenges are stark. Independent research carried out in 2015 showed the country’s air pollution contributes to an estimated 1.6 million deaths per year. With anger growing among the Chinese people, the government recently declared a ‘war on pollution’ announcing a raft of new green policies to make China a leader in technological innovation.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) projects that global investment in new power generation capacity will exceed $10 trillion between 2017 and 2040. Of this, 72 percent is projected for renewable energy, evenly split between wind and solar, and the Chinese government seems to agree.
China’s investment in clean energy is substantial, with the country currently spending twice as much as the USA on solar panels and producing two thirds of the world’s solar panels. With prices of solar reducing, this investment should only intensify. But China isn’t stopping there.
The government has introduced subsidies for electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturers and has tightened regulation around traditional fossil-fuel powered cars. China has become the global leader in EV sales since 2015, and is aiming for 7 million annual sales by 2025. The government is seeing clean energy as the solution to their environmental woes while not impacting their economy.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, the UK government has been accused of overseeing a dramatic and worrying collapse in clean energy investment. According to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, annual investment in clean energy fell 10 per cent year-on-year in 2016 and another 50 per cent in 2017. This is in spite of Britain’s electricity generated from low-carbon sources — including nuclear —doubling between 2009 and last year, when it hit a record 50 per cent.
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