China might be one of the biggest polluters on the planet, but it's also a world leader in renewable technologies.
Despite the pomp, a cloud still hangs over the Beijing Olympics, or as some have dubbed it: Greijing. Pollution persists in the capital -- resisting China's efforts to clean the air. But, there may be clearer skies on the horizon: a new report says China is in the process of cleaning up not just its act but other countries' as well.
The report, "China's Clean Revolution," was written by the independent organization The Climate Group. Changhua Wu, co-author of the study says, China is working on many different green technologies:
WU: "The list is pretty long and if you look at renewables, wind definitely is getting stronger and has been developing very, very fast. Definitely China has been producing, manufacturing a lot of Solar PV, mostly exporting to the developing world at this moment. Looking at a lot of other applications, like solar water heaters, China definitely is among the largest one in the world. And then down the list, and there is like biofuels, which is still controversial internationally but somehow China is also developing fast. Hydro is definitely on the list and China has been leading the technology in hydroelectricity and not only the large hydro but also the small and medium sized hydrotechnology as well. Unfortunately, China has to rely on coal mostly for its power but what's encouraging for us to see is that the government and also the companies in China, are investing heavily in clean coal technology. So if you look at the clean coal technology that has been used worldwide, China is pretty much leading already."
In 2007, China invested about $12 billion in renewable energy technologies -- that's second only to Germany.
WU: "The fact is that China today has to continue to rely on the coal but in the meantime we all know the coal factory is not only the major source of greenhouse gases but also domestic pollution. And so for the government basically it's very, very crucial to look for alternatives. So investing heavily in the renewable energy sector is part of the national strategy to shift the country's reliance on coal to other, cleaner, options."
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth.