Achieving green, low-carbon transition calls for more quality production capacity

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Climate change is a challenge faced by the whole world. To respond to it and achieve green and low-carbon transition, it calls for support from more quality production capacity. 

The new energy production capacity around the world today falls significantly short of meeting the demand of the market, especially huge latent demand in developing countries. 

The narrative of so-called “overcapacity” in China’s new energy industry as well as the protectionist measures stemming from it hinder the development of green industries of the world and the concerted efforts made by the international community to respond to climate change.

The development of China’s new energy industry has made significant contributions to the global green and low-carbon transition, in response to the needs of countries to alleviate energy crises and address climate change.

In 2022, China’s exports of wind power and photovoltaic products resulted in a reduction of approximately 573 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions for other countries. 

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, over the past decade, the average cost of electricity per kWh from wind power and photovoltaic projects around the world has cumulatively decreased by more than 60 percent and 80 percent respectively, and a significant portion of this achievement is attributed to China’s innovation, manufacturing, and engineering projects.

China’s green capacity has brought positive spillover effects to other countries. In Kazakhstan, the 60MW Shelek Wind Farm invested and built by a Chinese company helps reduce over 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions on an annual basis. In the United Arab Emirates, the Al Dhafra Solar Project contracted by a Chinese company supplies electricity to 200,000 households and reduces carbon emissions by 2.4 million tons each year.

The claim that China is now simply too large for the rest of the world to absorb this enormous capacity just cannot hold water.

In order to achieve the temperature goals set out in the Paris Agreement and help countries fulfill their commitments to peak carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality, it is needed to increase investment in the clean energy sector and enhance the supply of new energy products globally.

For instance, the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry is seeing a huge demand globally. According to the International Energy Agency, the global demand for NEVs is expected to reach 45 million units by 2030.

Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto pointed out that overcapacity doesn’t exist, and there is indeed a lack of capacity.

China’s green capacity poses no threat to the development of other countries’ industries. Instead, it promotes their industrial growth through extensive cooperation and healthy competition.

According to Peter Fischer, chief economist of the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, it is with China’s assistance that the West has gained access to more cost-effective solar panels and wind turbines. Furthermore, China’s innovative NEVs can drive the transformation of European car manufacturers, which ultimately benefits consumers.

An article on the website of The Diplomat said that Southeast Asian nations are actively courting Chinese electric vehicle companies in a collaboration that not only strengthens the imperative transition away from fossil fuel vehicles, but also fuels economic growth through technological exchange.

It is contradictory to emphasize the urgency of addressing climate change while labeling China’s renewable energy industry as “overcapacity.” Such accusations of “overcapacity” are merely excuses for protectionism. Facts have long indicated that such practice benefits no one and will eventually backfire.

Adopting protectionist policies and setting up trade barriers not only disrupts the global investment landscape of green industries but also hampers the efficient allocation of green resources worldwide. 

This leads to inefficient capacity and redundant construction, increasing the cost of low-carbon transition in countries that adopt these policies. Furthermore, it will hinder the global development of clean energy and impose significant negative impacts on the world economy.

As Bloomberg recently argued, despite implementing steel protectionist measures over the past decade, Washington has failed to prevent the decline in employment within the U.S. metal manufacturing industry. Instead, these measures have increased costs in other sectors of the U.S. economy and reduced competitiveness of the industry. If these measures were to be applied to the new energy sector, they would further weaken America’s ability to tackle climate change.

Blocking technological progress and suppressing high-quality production capacity is not the right path for economic development. China stands by its basic national policy of opening up and is ready to work with all parties to uphold fair competition and benefit from cooperation together.

It is hoped that relevant countries will maintain an open mindset, abide by market economy principles and international economic and trade rules, and provide a fair, transparent, open, and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)



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