China leads both ends of energy spectrum
A wire service article last week made the point that China leads the world in atmospheric carbon emissions but also in renewable energy efforts. According to the Pew Environmental Group, renewable energy investments peaked in the U.S. in 2007 at about $33 billion. Since then they’ve dropped steeply, settling at $18.6 billion in 2009. China’s spending curve has been just as steep, but it’s going up. In 2009 it reached $34.6, surpassing the U.S. at its peak.
China has a long way to go to clean up its industry. Trucks carrying coal from Mongolian coal fields to Beijing contributed to those huge traffic jams last month. That isn’t exactly the most efficient way to move fuel.
But there are policies that are working to deal with pollution and make a transition to an economy less dependent on fossil fuels. In many respects China is ahead of us in that the government appears to have concluded that it cannot assume its domestic supply of fossil-based energy is inexhaustible, nor can it assume that it will always have willing energy export partners. Perhaps that is a lesson we should take while we endeavor to establish some national energy policy. That is when we get around to creating one. By then, we’ll be able to buy all our technology from China.