Photo from Augapfel’s Photostream
If investment is, in fact, directly proportionate to results, then you might one day be able to wave goodbye to the lingering cloud of pollution that keeps your skin ghostly white year-round. According to a new report called Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? China outspent every country in the world, clean energy-wise, in 2009, beating the $18.6 billion spent by the US nearly two-to-one. So what forall that hoopla in Copenhagen? Phyllis Cuttino of Pew Research Group explains that:
Many US states have renewable portfolio standards mandating utilities to generate minimum levels of power from clean sources […] but amid delays in climate legislation, Washington has not developed a national standard. The United States lacks feed-in tariffs for clean energy.
So, in other words, the United States was backing China into a corner for refusing to disclose figures it couldn’t meet across its own board domestically, China refused to be backed into said corner – yet still came out on top in the “green” competition, investment-wise, anyway.
Wind, solar and geothermal aside, China has also bested the US by a significant amount in railway investment. Though its planned expansion to places as far as London is still very much in the air, China’s 16,000-mile domestic railway augmentation boasts a price tag of $300 billion, nearly 40 times greater than the $8 billion allotted to American railway projects.
Additionally, the funds allocated by the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 are only expected to be awarded to a fraction of the 278 applicants nationwide, while China’s government-mandated construction has already employed more than 110,000 workers, will benefit economies nationwide and is set to transform its railway system to “the world’s largest and most technically-sophisticated by 2012.” Cue apocalypse jokes.
Cynicism aside, China’s success in railway construction, much like in clean energy on the whole, is linked most closely to its preference of acting – designing, building, opening – rather than talking – bullying at a climate change conference. They also have a, um, slight manufacturing advantage. Tree Hugger breaks it down for us:
As with China’s push to become the world leader in electric cars and hybrids, the country’s command economy management means that big projects can get going faster than they might under a clunky American bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector provides more than enough steel and concrete. But China’s infrastructure success also rests on the early start it got: the rail build-up began in 2005, meaning projects were “shovel-ready” by the time recession hit.
2005? Jeez. If plans made then will take us to/from Beijing in four hours by next year, we’re excited to see how clean our air might be by, say, 2016. Goodbye, asthma!