GT Voice: West should invest more in clean energy, discard paranoia
Published: Apr 23, 2024 10:29 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

While the West has become critical of China's efforts in promoting the green energy sector, there is also a growing awareness that, rather than engaging in unconstructive criticism, countries in the West need to take action and invest more money and resources in clean energy.

The latest example of this is an opinion piece by Bloomberg columnist David Fickling, which said that "To the extent that there's grounds for hope around the energy transition right now, it's largely thanks to the availability of cheap, clean Chinese products that the US and European governments seem so keen to exclude." He also claimed that the West must "spend more money on clean technology to rewire the world's energy systems."

Despite Western alarm, or perhaps anxiety, over the rapid development of China's clean energy sector or the competition from Chinese peers, the progress of any country in clean energy should be viewed as a valuable contribution to global environmental protection and climate change response, rather than a cause for blame. Healthy competition in this sector is natural, but it must be conducted fairly and not in a one-sided manner. 

As the world's largest developing nation, China's endeavors in the realm of green energy hold immense importance for worldwide emission reduction efforts. Its advances in this regard are no reason for Western paranoia about the Chinese clean energy sector.

Global demand for green energy products is ever growing. The crux of the potential green trade dispute between China and the West stems from the fact that Western production capacity has failed to keep pace with this trend.

In this sense, it is sincerely hoped that more people in the West could realize that China's development is not hindering the West, but rather the West must actively strive to meet global demand in a timely manner. 

Excluding others will not lead to prosperity in the West's own industries. There are already too many examples of how protectionism weakens an industry.

Western countries possess significant advantages in scientific and technological innovation as well as capital, which should not be solely used for suppressing others. Instead, these advantages should be turned into an impetus for reshaping the global energy structure. 

According to data from the International Energy Agency, the world may have already invested $1.7 trillion in clean energy, but that is still a far cry from the amount that will be needed annually to meet climate targets set in the Paris Agreement.

Despite the willingness and progress in the green energy transition in Western countries, substantial increases in investment are needed to achieve a stable, efficient supply of clean energy. 

By investing more in new energy technologies, Western countries can drive their own industrial advances and facilitate the transition toward a greener, more efficient and sustainable energy industry worldwide. Such investments are not limited to direct funding - they also include policy backing, tax breaks, research and development subsidies, and other incentives.

Meanwhile, infrastructure construction, such as the build-out of charging stations, is one of the keys to the long-term development of a green economy. Many consumers are interested in electric cars but are deterred by the lack of charging facilities. 

Addressing issues related to power generation and transmission is also essential for the advance of the new energy industry. Therefore, to promote the development of clean energy, Western countries must focus not only on technological advances but also on improving infrastructure.

In this regard, appropriate policies and their effective implementation are as vital as money. Considering the fact that Western authorities have been struggling with policy and execution in promoting infrastructure development, it is imperative for their governments to develop policies that support the growth of new energy industries and ensure their successful implementation to facilitate the widespread adoption of clean energy technologies.