China has long been blamed for its contribution to climate change due to extensive manufacturing and the burning of fossil fuels. But according to new data, China is not only on track to meet its carbon reduction goals – it will likely surpass them by a long shot.
Carbon emissions from the nation’s energy sector fell in 2016 for the third year in a row, according to figures released by the government and analyzed by Greenpeace Tuesday. Coal use declined, while solar energy production doubled. Following that trend, carbon emissions in the nation were set to fall another 1 percent in 2017.
Well before he took office, President Donald Trump claimed China was to blame for entire notion of global warming. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive,” Trump tweeted in 2012.
But China has been clear in its commitment to battling global warming as a nation. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2016, China pledged to peak its carbon emissions by 2030, but if the country continues on its current trajectory, emissions will likely peak years earlier and the nation will meet its goals far ahead of schedule.
In additional to significantly curbing its carbon emissions, China has also increased emphasis on renewable, clean energy like solar power. The country installed 34 gigawatts of solar energy in 2016, almost one and a half times more than the U.S. has installed in its entire history, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The increased solar development made China the worldwide leader in solar power capacity, jumping ahead of Germany for the top spot. China also added 23 gigawatts of wind power, three times the amount the U.S. did.
“Renewable energy will be the pillar for China’s energy structure transition,” Li Yangzhe, deputy head of China’s National Energy Administration said in January.
China employed 3.5 million people in its renewable energy sector in 2016 and that number is expected to rise to 13 million by 2020.
A worker installs solar panels in Yantai, China, Nov. 17, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
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