How China Became the World’s Leader in Green Energy

And What Decoupling Could Cost the Environment

Technicians check solar panels in Handan, Hebei Province, November 2019 Wang Xiao / Xinhua / eyevine / Redux

China has never been the most enthusiastic party to international climate accords, but Beijing might end up saving the planet anyway. In little more than a decade, China has made itself a world leader in electric vehicles, renewable energy, and energy storage. In response to its own poisoned environment, shrinking workforce, and security fears about foreign dependence, the country has incubated a green industrial policy that is both generous and ruthless.

China did this to solve its own problems—with a lot of help from Japanese and Western companies and investors—but the results benefit everyone. For now, China’s green energy sector remains deeply connected to other, very different, economies in Asia and the West. Washington’s current policy of “decoupling” Western economies from China threatens to disrupt green-tech innovation just when we need it most. The consequence could be a blow to the environment, not just in China

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