Surprised? I was after hearing the old reports of China building a new coal plant once a week.  China has long been the favorite scapegoat for those arguing the United States shouldn’t address climate change without their participation.  But it appears China may be changing direction. 

As reported in the Guardian, the Climate Group released a study that concludes China is the world’s leading producer of energy from renewable sources

 Here are some of the fun (and surprising) facts reported in the Study:

  1. China leads the world in installed renewable capacity at 152 gigawatts
  2. Approximately 820 solar PV were produced in China in 2007, second only to Japan
  3. It is the leading world exporter of wind turbines
  4. China investments in renewable energy as a percentage of GDP are almost equal to Germany’s, the world leader
  5. China’s energy efficiency standards for cars is 40% higher than in the United States
  6. China is the third largest producer of ethanol

Clearly, the goal of the Climate Group was to produce a study to combat the arguments raised in the United States that support inaction on climate change without India or China.  However, one statistic highlighted in the Study deserves some additional discussion. 

In 2007, China emitted 5.1 tons of CO2 per capita compared to 19.4 tons for the United States.  While the United States per capita number justifies action, so does the potential for China to grow its emissions. 

China has 1.2 billion people compared to the United States 300 million.  China has already overtaken the US in total emissions with 1/3 of the emissions per capita because it has four times more people.  Without mandatory caps, what will China’s emissions be once 1/2 their population drives cars, purchases more of latest electronics, and have more income to travel?