This Energy and Environmental Change MA talk was delivered by Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, a Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore. It provided insights into the perceived role of China as a rising global champion in clean energy.
Since 2010, this perception of China has arisen from a combination of action and rhetoric. Action has taken the form of construction of the world’s largest advanced coal-fired power station fleets, wind farms and solar photovoltaic arrays, as well as a sustained effort to reduce national GDP intensities of energy and CO2 emissions.
In addition, Chinese companies have become leading suppliers of wind and solar energy equipment. Rhetoric has included government announcements on national policy and international commitments, and, more recently, the thirteenth Five-Year Plan for Energy (2016–2020).
This seminar looked behind the headlines and examined the factors that have supported these achievements. These include the availability of capital, the role of state-owned companies with soft budgetary constraints, indirect support from local governments and abundant human capital.
On the other hand, it also examined the obstacles to reaching the formal goals of reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions, as well as the costs and unintended consequences of these policies. In addition, the seminar identified those parts of the energy supply chain where the governance of energy has been less effective in terms of energy efficiency and environmental protection.