China gives Greens reason to be optimistic

“It’s easy to be pessimistic.” These were the words of a climate change scientist who admitted measures for reducing global emissions simply aren’t being met. Last year at Cancun no […]

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By Tom Gibson

“It’s easy to be pessimistic.” These were the words of a climate change scientist who admitted measures for reducing global emissions simply aren’t being met. Last year at Cancun no agreement was made by the international community to commit to our climate- and fossil fuels still remain the dominant source of energy.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, LSE’s Michael Jacobs insists. The Grantham Institute professor said looking at the investment in electricity in China should keep green chins up: “What is the largest source of new investment? It’s renewables by a very long way- $245 billion (£152bn) worth of renewables in the last year, up four times since 2004.”

Speaking at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Conference last week Professor Jacobs admitted global emissions targets were some way off. Global emission levels could be up to 11 gigatonnes too high to maintain the safe two degree temperature rise.

However, recent international developments should give confidence. Mexico has recently introduced an agreement to enshrine climate targets and South Korea has introduced an emissions trading scheme. But it is the world’s emerging economic superpower that will give hope to those who fear the worst, the professor says.

Although China is still the world’s biggest consumer of coal, its desire to explore the benefits of clean tech is highly promising, Professor Jacobs said: “China has taken a massive bet on becoming the leader of green technologies. Now that tells us something. If China is willing to do this then this is going to be a trend that will take over all industrial nations in the world.”

China is also set to begin testing its own emission schemes. International reports claim its most recent five-year economic plan includes pilot schemes launching in several regions, starting next year.