Seeing as China is responsible for more than 25% of the world’s carbon emissions alone, it’s hard to call the nation a friend of the environmental movement. Nevertheless, while other countries like the United States are floundering to make any meaningful reform (if not still outright questioning the validity of climate science), China is at least moving full speed ahead on some initiatives to become a much greener country. Check out some of its latest plans that should contribute to making the world a healthier place:
1. Cap and Trade
China is prepared to introduce the world’s largest cap-and-trade program to help tackle its carbon emission problem. Having already vowed to cut emissions by 40% of its 2005 levels in the year 2010, China expects that the plan will allow them to get a handle on corporate fuel burning and put a financial burden on those companies that exceed their fair share.
The program will roll out in full in 2016. For now, China has been experimenting with the plan in five different markets, and is impressed with the results thus far. China is using this test-run to fine-tune the rules before it rolls out the program throughout the whole nation.
2. Electric Cars
Another way to cut down on emissions is to transition away from gas-guzzlers and start to emphasize pollution-free cars. The Chinese government says that it intends to have 30% of its automobile purchases be electric cars within the next two years.
In order to increase consumer confidence in electric cars, China is incentivizing these purchases by not taxing them. Additionally, the government is said to be committing about $16 billion to creating additional charging centers to provide electric car drivers with more options.
3. No More GMOs
After five years of allowing genetically modified rice and corn, China has quietly decided to discontinue the permits necessary to grow GMO crops. The lack of explanation for this decision by the government has fueled speculation as to the reasons. While some believe that safety concerns over GMOs was a primary concern, others point to the fact that China has been advanced its traditional agricultural capabilities and can now grow enough rice without genetic modifications, making altering food in the country unnecessary.
4. Solar Power
While plenty of countries have discussed the likelihood that solar power is the way of the future, no country has put its money and resources behind this belief quite like China. Though more of a recent convert to solar energy, China has hit the ground running. In 2014 alone, China will install more solar technology than the United States has installed throughout all of history.
This boost in solar utilization also means that China is taking a lead in the production of such technology. If the United States hopes to be a leader in energy tech development in the years ahead, there’s no time to dillydally.
5. De-Emphasizing Coal
Speaking of energy, one of China’s most destructive habits has been its heavy reliance on coal. Although some estimates thought the nation’s coal consumption would double by 2030, it may have already peaked well ahead of schedule. Concern over pollution and a shift to alternate forms of energy means that reliance on coal has finally begun to decrease in the country. Some caution that it’s too premature to use the latest coal numbers as a definitive trend, but a turning of the tides is exciting news and indicative of the fact that the economy is finding other ways to grow.