Why China has become the world leader in renewable energy

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China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, using fossil fuels to drive rapid industrialisation. So why is it now investing billions of dollars in green technology?

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China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its water, air and soil are heavily polluted. How did China become the world leader in clean energy?

China’s rapid industrialisation has lifted millions out of poverty but has come at an environmental cost. Its growth relies on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. This contributes to high levels of air pollution in cities such as Beijing.

China’s leadership sees pollution as a threat to social stability. Citizens have protested about pollution and poor air quality. The government is also concerned about the impact on health. It has launched programmes to clean up its environment and improve air quality.

The leadership recognises the dangers posed by climate change and sees the economic opportunities in developing renewable energy.

In 2015, China increased its solar capacity by 74%, making it the world’s largest producer of solar power. In 2015 China invested $111bn in clean power. It plans to increase this to $361bn by 2020.

China is reluctant to give up coal but it is well aware of the costs. As America steps back from tackling climate change there are hopes that China will fill the gap.

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