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Is China really ‘green’?

    According to the World Economic Forum, China is a global leader in investment in “energy transition investment”:

    China increased its overall energy transition investment by 60% from 2020 levels, further cementing its position as a global leader. The country’s wind and solar capacity increased by 19% in 2021, with electrified transport also accounting for a large portion of the investment.

    This claim echos many western approvals of China’s apparently booming green sector. But how true is it?

    China’s energy demand has skyrocketed in recent decades, and most of this has been met by coal.

    How does this compare to the UK?

    The UK has virtually eliminated coal use.

    Though China’s coal use has increased in absolute terms, as a proportion of its energy mix, it has slightly diminished.

    But the UK has significantly more renewable energy

    Solar 1.70%1.97%

    China produces slightly more solar power as a proportion of its total energy mix, but the contribution of wind to the UK’s total energy mix is more than twice as much as China’s.

    But a more interesting picture is revealed by the UK’s total energy demand.

    The UK’s energy demand has been falling because it is deindustrialising. Meanwhile, energy demand has been growing in China because its government has focused policy on industrialisation. Labour and energy (mostly coal) is much cheaper in China, and so manufacturers have been leaving the UK and Europe and setting up in China. Meanwhile UK and European green policies, which increase the costs of industry and manufacturing, merely create a market for Chinese manufacturers.

    According to a report by John Constable for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, China is now a global leader in technologies the demand for which is created by European policy.