Tuesday, August 2, 2011

China's Energy Policy

China’s energy policy does differ from U.S. energy policy on several fronts however much of China’s policy reflects past U.S. policy.  While the U.S. and other nations encourage China, largely due to its population and current industrialization, to curb its emissions and adopt cleaner standards we forget that many of these practices have been in place in the U.S. for years. Over the past 50 or so years the U.S. has focused much of its resources on obtaining foreign sources of oil for energy. Current policy is working to shift away from foreign dependence to create more domestic sources that create fewer emissions. Meanwhile, China is in the middle of a significant industrialization and modernization of the country. China is spending significant resources to acquire foreign sources of oil (McIntyre 2009). China has vast coal resources which supply about 70% of its electricity (The Economist 2009). China has also built the largest dam in the world—Three Gorges, that will supply hydropower for domestic use (Kennedy). China is experiencing astonishing growth that has surpassed their own predictions, the gross domestic product increased 11% from 2006 to 2007 (Brahic 2007). This growth and modernization are causing China to be predicted as the leader of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (Brahic 2007).
Both China and the U.S. are attempting to make strides to reduce greenhouse emissions and create more sustainable energy economies. The U.S. faces the difficulty of the cost of implementing new alternative energy infrastructure and technology while China faces that hurdle along with exploding growth. The Economist (2009) said: “…even if Mr. Hu and Mr. Obama appear in broad agreement on what needs to be done, persuading politicians and the public in both countries will not be easy. China has set impressive targets but struggles with ill-motivated bureaucrats. In America even lackluster climate-change legislation now before Congress could founder as Mr. Obama devotes political energy to what he clearly sees as a higher priority: health-care reform.”
China has made some significant choices on the global energy market by investing heavily in international energy sources and heavily financing U.S. debt (McIntyre 2009). These actions put the U.S. in a precarious position as far as dictating what type of energy policy to adopt not to mention that the U.S. has its own energy policy issues to address. China can and likely will impact global energy sustainability because of their size and growing dominance on the world economic market. China has the opportunity to create changes to their policies that will lessen their global impact to resources and carbon emissions or they can continue on the path that was so clearly paved by the U.S. of utilizing unsustainable fossil fuels for a growing population. If China continues on its current path it will certainly become a global leader in carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption—not a particularly worthy title. It will be difficult for industrialized nations, such as the U.S., to dictate to the Chinese that they choose alternatives when other nations have so clearly exploited those resources and created the initial problem.
The U.S. should develop its own domestic supplies of energy. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods including development of areas such as the Bakken formation and ANWR. However, specifically in Alaska there are other environmental resources to consider in development of the oil resource. While utilizing domestic supplies of oil is certainly useful and will be a component of future U.S. energy policy it is critical to remember that fossil fuels cannot continue to meet all of our current and future needs. The U.S. needs to invest in a wide variety of renewable resources and infrastructure that will provide long term solutions to the energy issue.

Angang, Hu. 2006. Green development: The inevitable choice for China (part two). China Dialogue. http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/
Brahic, Catherine. 2007. China’s emissions may surpass the U.S. in 2007. New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11707
Claussen, Eileen. 2009. Roadmap for a U.S.-China partnership on climate change. http://www.pewclimate.org/op-ed/us-china-roadmap
Institute for Energy Research. http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/
Kennedy, Bruce. China’s biggest construction project since the Great Wall generates controversy at home and abroad. http://www.cnn.com/
McIntyre, Douglas. 2009. China’s political battle to buy strategic interests around the globe. http://247wallst.com/2009/07/06/
Wong, Julie and Andrew Light. 2009. China begins its transition to a clean-energy economy. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/

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