Keep green energy clean

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-19 13:05
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The astonishment that China's top energy official expressed over the United States' decision to investigate the country's clean energy policies must be widely shared by global proponents of a greener and more sustainable future.

With international negotiations being painfully stalled on a coordinated and adequate global response to the increasingly obvious consequences of climate change, it is disheartening to see that the Obama administration is trying to politicize another country's green energy policies for nothing more than midterm election votes.

In an ostensible attempt to appeal to voters who are deeply disappointed about their domestic woes, the US started an investigation into China's clean energy sector on Oct 15, the same day as the US Treasury Department postponed a report on whether China is manipulating its currency to obtain an unfair trade advantage.

Though blaming others for domestic troubles has become a political tradition in the US, especially since the 2008 economic meltdown, the latest move against China's clean energy policies is not only totally groundless, it is also absurdly irresponsible.

China has exported only three wind turbines of less than 10,000 kW generating capacity to the US, while one US company alone has sold wind turbines of 1.13 million kW to this country in the past five years, the US accusation amounts to crying wolf.

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Yet, far worse than sending a wrong signal of trade protectionism to the rest of the world, the move could set a dangerous and irresponsible precedent on assaulting other countries' efforts to develop badly needed green energy.

As the fastest-growing major economy, China has made it a top priority to increase the use of non-fossil energy to 15 percent of its primary energy consumption by 2020 and has also pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level.

While its ambition to go green has so far made itself the world's most dynamic market for green energy development, China is fully aware of the great challenges it still faces and its responsibilities in helping the world avoid the worst effects of global warming.

It is with such a mindset that China has been sincerely and enthusiastically pursuing a green energy partnership with the US, another big greenhouse gas emitter, in the hope that the combination of its market growth and the latter's technological advantage will deliver results in mitigating climate change.

It is no wonder the Chinese government is shocked when, after repeatedly delaying talks over these issues, US trade officials now want to probe its clean energy policies.

As a key industry that is crucial to any lasting and sustainable recovery of the global economy, green energy is far from sufficiently invested in, developed and promoted in view of the imminent environmental and energy challenges it is supposed to address.

Fast development of clean energy demands political will to overcome election season short-termism. The US should now stop politicizing it.