While solar, wind, and large power generation projects receive most of the attention, getting more out of the energy one already has is a key way of saving money and reducing local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. China has been doing so aggressively.
By the mid-1990s, pollution and energy costs had driven China to work toward energy efficiency and clean production (Millison 203). A major strategy was close small “coal plants and replace them with larger ones that are more efficient” (Biello Paradox); as this has largely been completed, China is moving forward in other ways.
One method is through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), part of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to limit climate change. The treaty encourages developed countries to help reduce emissions in developing countries, of which China has been considered. This is an obvious win-win situation for China, which participated eagerly: “between 2005, when the Kyoto Protocol took effect, and December 1, 2009, China synched 37.1 percent of the total CDM projects in the world” (Ma). With the treaty set to expire in 2012, however, along with serious questions as to whether China can still be considered “developing,” this effort will soon be relegated to history.
In its 11th five year plan, from 2006 to 2010, China set a goal of reducing its energy intensity by 20 percent. Measures to do so included using heat more efficiently, particularly in industrial settings; saving and replacing petroleum; conserving energy in buildings, motors, and lighting; and better monitoring energy use (China outlines). China recently announced that these goals have largely been met (Ma, Can China). Indeed, “For the first time, China led the world in clean energy investments in 2009” (Pew). A new target calls for an additional 16-17% improvement in energy efficiency by 2015 (Qiu).
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