China’s clean energy drive may veer off course as global energy prices plunge

More than 70 per cent of China’s coal enterprises are operating at a loss; every second worker has had a wage cut or default (photo: dpa)
More than 70 per cent of China’s coal enterprises are operating at a loss; every second worker has had a wage cut or default (photo: dpa)

China stands to benefit economically from lower global energy prices. The country became the world’s top energy consumer in 2010 and has since overtaken the US as the biggest petroleum importer. However, significantly cheaper fossil fuels come at an awkward time for the government, which has redoubled its efforts to shift to cleaner energy sources and reduce dependence on coal and oil. Market forces, and increased consumption, are working against this long-term policy. As pollution becomes an increasingly sensitive political issue in China, the outcome of Beijing’s push for cleaner energy will have dramatic effects throughout the country, writes GIS guest expert Brendan O’Reilly.

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