Tackling climate change will not be possible without a significant contribution from Asia. Although most Asian countries currently have relatively low levels of per capita greenhouse gas emissions and historically their contribution to global climate change has been limited, Asia now contributes substantially to global greenhouse gas emissions.
There are signs of growing interest in renewable energies in many parts of Asia out of energy security and environmental concerns as well as to bring electricity to energy poor regions. With dropping renewable energy prices there is growing investment in the sector in Asia. This makes it increasingly possible to talk about the beginning of energy transitions, which are occurring in the region. Greater use of renewable energy may lead to more socially and environmentally just energy structures. We still know, however, little about the actual social and political contributions, costs and implications of renewable energy expansion.
The energy transition efforts of China show an increasing level of ambition and policy alignment both regarding specific targets, policy pathways and frameworks to achieve them. Although these policies have ushered in rapid gains in renewable energy, China’s continued reliance on coal and its steadily rising energy consumption suggests a challenging path for a true clean energy transition. We hope that this study on China provides a starting point for further analysis and for a learning process on a transition towards renewable energy and that it will provide useful information to policymakers, academics and civil society to work together towards low-carbon development in China and beyond.
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