China reaping rewards of swapping economic engine from black to green


China’s economy may be slowing, but it has created more jobs than expected in the first half of 2015. As polluting industries and coal imports shrink notably, a significant share of the over 9.7 million new jobs is in low carbon solutions. Energy consumption per unit of GDP also dropped by 4.2 per cent year on year, signalling that China’s deepening structural readjustments are providing better, and cleaner growth. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), there was a drop of major polluting gases (source in Chinese) in the first six months of the year. As China cleans up its economy, its reforms and development is creating more clean business opportunities, with more and more investors and business leaders abandoning the “little black rock” to cash in on public demand for clean air. The smart money knows that coal is the No. 1 cause for climate change and air pollution, and as China secures a better future for its people, the improved health and economic conditions will send a ripple effect through the global market, further accelerating the energy transition towards a future powered by 100 per cent renewables.


Key Points

  • Cutting emissions creates more and better jobs, and a stronger, future-proofed economy. Despite slowing economic growth, China’s service industry has outperformed heavy industry, and a surprising 9.7 million urban jobs were created in the first half of 2015, according to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Summer Davos Forum. Carbon intensity was cut by about five percent, the largest drop in many years. At the same time, imports of coal shrank, with 80 per cent of coal companies suffering losses.
  • Economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand. According to a recent report by New Climate Economy, low carbon cities will save trillions, as much as one-fifth of global GDP, and China sees this opportunity coming. It is strengthening its pollution control measures for ecological security and public health concerns, and according to an official in MEP (source in Chinese), such protection measures will become a green driving force to stabilise and boost China’s economy. For example, the Government’s air pollution action plan alone could boost GDP growth by 1.94 trillion RMB, and create around 1.96 million new jobs.



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Key Quotes

  • “The Chinese economy, now heading toward further growth, is also being weighed down by increasing resources and environmental constraints. It is imperative for us to enhance energy conservation and environmental protection. Tackling climate change is not only our binding international obligation as a major responsible country, but also the pressing need for our own development. There is no turning back in China’s commitment to a sound eco-system. We have declared war on pollution and earnestly fulfilled our due international responsibilities. ” – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
  • “The influence of controlling air pollution on the economy exists, but it’s very limited. Most of the eliminated production capacity came from already-struggling enterprises in the province, which would have little effect on the economy. On the contrary, controlling air pollution can help new sources of economic growth emerge, such as the environmental protection industry and new energy industry.” – Ge Chazhong, Researcher at the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning under the Ministry of Environmental Protection

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