China's Green Jobs Boost
Image Credit: John Seb Barber

China's Green Jobs Boost


While Republicans in the United States argue over how many jobs they believe environmental regulations will cost the U.S. economy, China could add a net 9.5 million jobs over the next five years by eliminating some of the dirtiest industries, a new report says.

According to a study by the influential China Council of International Co-operation on Environment and Development, the jobs can be added by replacing such industries with “green businesses,” with the gains in focusing on high tech firms more than making up for the estimated 950,000 jobs that would be lost by shutting energy intensive industries down, The Guardian notes.

The report also recommended investing 5.8 trillion yuan ($912 billion) in energy-saving measures, which it believes would help boost the economy by 8 trillion yuan. The recommendation followed a recent pledge by China to spend 2 trillion yuan on developing green energy and reducing carbon emissions over the next five years, with a view to cutting per-unit GDP energy consumption by 16 percent compared with 2010.

Earlier this month, a study found that China’s carbon emissions per unit of economic growth had plunged over the past five years, as the country has turned to greener technologies.

According to a report by Tsinghua University, although China is now the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, with greenhouse gases climbing 33 percent between 2006 and 2010, the country’s so-called carbon intensity actually dropped by more than 20 percent over the same period.

China has also announced a number of practical steps aimed at making this happen, including the announcement that it will phase out power-draining light bulbs over the next five years. According to AP, China plans to “ban imports and sales of 100-watt-and-higher incandescent bulbs from October 1, 2012, in an attempt to save energy and curb climate change.”

Such moves are in marked contrast with the efforts of U.S. lawmakers such as Michele Bachmann, a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for president, who has campaigned against a 2007 law that requires manufacturers to develop energy-efficient light bulbs.

“I think Thomas Edison did a pretty patriotic thing for this country by inventing the light bulb,” Mother Jones quoted her as telling a New Hampshire audience in March. “And I think darn well, you New Hampshirites, if you want to buy Thomas Edison's wonderful invention, you should be able to!”

Bachmann is far from alone. According to the New York Times last month, the U.S. House of Representatives had voted more than 160 times already this year to “undercut clean air and water laws while blocking efforts to limit global warming, protect public lands and guard against future oil spills.”

“Some of the House’s votes have seemed entirely reflexive, like a 240-to-169 thumbs down for a sensible amendment requiring regulators to seek independent advice on drilling safety from an organization not affiliated with the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s lobby,” the paper wrote. “Far more worrisome have been votes that would dangerously weaken basic clean air and clean water laws and undermine the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic pollutants like mercury and set clean air standards based solely on science.”

Still, although the China Council of International Co-operation on Environment and Development has some heavyweight political backing in Li Keqiang, who is widely expected to be the country’s next premier, China won’t find it easy to undo some of the serious environmental degradation that has marked its breakneck pace of economic development.

For a start, local officials desperate to meet economic growth targets are frequently tempted to disregard centrally issued initiatives. And then there is the problem of corruption, an issue that Premier Wen Jiabao argues is the greatest facing the country today, which has prompted many local officials to turn a blind eye to questionable environmental practices.

But a report by the European Commission in September offered one of the starkest warnings for China.

“If the current trends in emissions by China and the industrialized countries including the USA would continue for another seven years, China will overtake the USA by 2017 as highest per capita emitter among the 25 largest emitting countries,” the report noted.

If this happens, it would be, as one senior Chinese official noted last month, “a disaster for the world.”

November 22, 2011 at 09:59

Google “china pollution pictures” (without the quotes) and see for yourself about china environment and chinese living in china.

Funny how no chinese were bragging about that.

November 21, 2011 at 12:30

@oro invictus,
Interpretations of many kinds with regards to whether the PRC is Communist or not have been seen from one end to the other end of the spectrum for sometime already.
Yet, the term ” Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” was uttered by Deng Xiaoping at the time of China’s reforms and opening up of 1978 is being over-looked for some unknown reasons . It was neccessary to rename the new economic/political policies to fit and describe this totally revolutionary new approach so that ” people will not be confused “.
The China of today is indeed a Communist nation ruled by a one-party Communist Party of China and under the guiding principle of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. As the term implies,all policies of merits should be made a priority. As long as a plan is carried out by “no nonsense” approach,it would be likely to produce results that make sense. These new principles are simple to understand provided one honestly try to comprehend free from “bad attitudes or established sentiments”.
While the US has been and will remain to claim itself as a leader, China does not have to be a World leader in any respect. While some other countries yearn to be a World leader in some respects, China is striving to better itself by continuiously learning and adapting to the new and rapidly changing World. If China’s hard works and determinations resulted in it becoming the pioneer of many revolutionanry innovations,that would be beautiful. If not,thats fine too because it means more learnings are needed.
Apparently, China’s economic miracles and recent media attentions there of have attracted a lot of bad sentiments(jealousies,self-denials,highly status consciuos) from people and nations normally were not when China was isolated,poor,and backward. Regardless of how these people feel, China’s developnmental path have no room for these kinds of nonsense.
In short, China’s business concerns China itself and if it bring bitterness to some people,thats “too bad”.

Oro Invictus
November 21, 2011 at 11:35

@Yang Zi

As bad as the majority of US politicians and various commercial groups have been in terms of environmental protection, to suggest that they are anywhere near as antagonistic to the planet’s ecological wellbeing as the CPC is patently ludicrous. While they have their corrupt elements as well as having to fight against both commercial and political forces on occasion, at least entities like the EPA in the US actually make somewhat of a difference; those in the PRC either follow party and economic whims without question, or actually put the environment first and are basically excluded from the decision making process by the CPC for “misguided priorities”.

As an example, consider the cities of New York and Nanjing, comparing their populations and PM 2.5 data; New York, with a population of ~9.8 million and some of the worst environmental controls in the US has an average PM 2.5 count of (at most) ~15 µg/m3; Nanjing, a city with a population of ~8 million was last recorded (as of 11/14) as having a PM 2.5 count of 75 µg/m3. Note that all these come from official sources, though Nanjing’s was only posted by mistake (though the government did confirm the data was accurate when pressed on the issue), since the public isn’t actually allowed to see that official data. Going off of trends, this means that while the New York area is actually experiencing a decrease in pollution, Nanjing (which has considerably better environmental controls than areas like Beijing) is experiencing an exponential increase.

Basically, boiling this data down, this means that the per capita PM 2.5 levels for Nanjing are not only much higher than that of New York’s, but higher than New York’s has been at any one point in history. You can do the exact same thing with virtually any other two cities in the PRC and the US (even Hong Kong to a lesser extent, though it still has far better air quality than any other comparable city in the PRC) and the results are the same. Thus, not only does this pretty much invalidate the feeble attempts by the CPC to excuse themselves by claiming it a product of “being a developing nation”, but it also shows the absolute apathy to the problem given these levels are still rising at an appalling rate.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the CPC would love the PRC to have an industrial and commercial sector that was completely green, but so too would every other government on Earth with their respective countries; the thing is that the CPC, moreso than any other government, seems willing to pursue this as long as it doesn’t decrease their wealth or power.


Yang zi
November 21, 2011 at 08:54

I actually don’t disagree a lot with you about the nature of Chinese gov. Since so many are using communist describing China, I was just poking fun at those guys.

China has to lead because it is responsible for finding a new way to prosperity. A way that doesn’t consume so much fossile fuel. I don’t think US want to go that way, it led the world in the current model and have no incentive to change.

Oro Invictus
November 21, 2011 at 07:13

@Yang Zi

Honestly, things would go alot better if people were less concerned with matters of leadership and more with the welfare of the people as a whole (in this and other matters, but given environmental damage is much more easily perceived than individual freedoms and social health, it’s as good as any a place to highlight this). I realize that, in this context, it is not as if we are dealing with control but rather the setting of an example and influence via economic and geopolitical standings; however, such thinking still implies (at the very least) a tacit, codified means of expected progression in such matters. Really, alot of the inertia in terms of environmental legislation and enforcement across the world is a product of exclusionary and inflexible ideas as to how to proceed. The other aspect (if we focus on a simplified version of the core issues), of course, is also the short-sighted focus on monetary, political, and material concerns rather than sustainable environmental policies, but that is an inherent problem with human psychology in terms of long-term and large-scale benefits over short-term and personal wealth.

Also, the PRC is not communist, it strays wildly from the actual tenets of said philosophy (and don’t give me that nonsense about “Chinese-style” such and such, those are nothing more than circumstantial euphemisms which pervert the actual ideals of the social philosophies being exploited); the PRC is a nepotist autocracy politically and extremely capitalistic economically (to a degree not seen before in this world, except perhaps in the cases of those malefactors of old like Frick and Crassus). I bring this up not simply to reiterate a point lost on so many time and time again, nor because of the personal offense I take at the CPC having the gall to call their imposed systems socialist in the slightest; I bring it up because such systems are antithetical to the the progress of society as a whole, be it in human rights or environmental protection. Such overt focuses on the immediate economic benefits blinds one to reason, while autocratic systems are by their very nature incapable of grasping and adapting to that which has implications reaching far beyond their own spheres of control.

While I wholeheartedly share the belief that Earth is not a dumping ground and should be protected (though I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the scientist in me disagrees with your positions on extra-terrestrial habitability), attempting to play a game of leaders and followers is both counter-productive and dangerous. Consensus is the key to such matters, for this one is such that it concerns us all.

Yang zi
November 20, 2011 at 15:14

Jason Miks is doing a superb job.

This is where the ball is. Could be the ticket for China to lead the world. I am not fully convinced about global warming’s damage, but this is the only planet we can live on. I don’t think humans can find another one and be able to move there in a 1000 years.

So we must do something. Earth is not a dumping ground, China need to lead. If China succeeds, you could say communist saved world :)

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