The exit of the United States from the Paris Climate Accords has created quite a stir in the international community. While the amount of environmental damage this action will create is unknown, the world is already looking to China to pick up the slack.
China is an emerging power, and unlike the United States they are embracing new technologies that will make their nation far more competitive over the next century. The US under Trump is regressing into the use of archaic fuel sources like coal, but China is looking ahead to a much greener future.
There was a time when the world could point an accusing finger at China as the culprit for carbon emissions, but that has changed dramatically. The Communist Party has made breaking China’s coal addiction a priority, and they have been pumping development money into sustainable power sources.
These efforts appear to be taking hold, as the roll-out of solar power is making an impact on Chinese emissions. In addition to the efforts to cut coal, in China local officials have made air quality and human health a priority.
It may be a while until urban smog in Chinese metropolises is a thing of the past, but these days there are blue skies in Beijing. It isn’t reasonable to expect China to rid itself of coal overnight, but the programs they have enacted are very promising.
The political implications of the US move to exit the Paris Accords are just beginning to be felt, but they will be on a short list of countries that don’t want to adhere to the guidelines. In fact there are only two other nations who refused to sign; Nicaragua and Syria.
Of course China isn’t going to benefit economically in the short run from making changes to their infrastructure, but over the medium and long term the economic and political advantages China is creating may be tremendous.
In addition to cementing international esteem, China will be developing the capacity to produce sustainable energy technology, while the US goes back to digging dirty rocks from the ground and burning them.