China may have guzzled a lot of carbon in its 30 years of industrialisation, but it could achieve a clean energy miracle in the next 30, argues Wu Changhua in New Scientist.
As the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, China clearly has a number of urgent environmental issues to address. But alarming statistics and the image of a country opening a new coal-fired power station every week are misleading, says Wu.
China has been replacing its small power stations with a new generation of stations incorporating clean coal technologies, Wu says. And wind, solar and biomass power are developing apace.
This is largely down to leadership from the central government, which has established the National Renewable Energy Law and is backing new, cleaner power stations.
Awareness about energy saving is rising among the public too, exemplified by impressive sales of electric bikes employing technology similar to that in hybrid cars.
Wu says much of this progress has been unsung. Still, China could do more. While the world needs to revise its image of China as just a carbon polluter and work with the country more constructively, China too needs to learn from the international community.