LASER TALK: China — Does It Matter What We Do?


LASER TALK: China — Does It Matter What We Do?

We should not have any illusions about China’s energy use. This one country with 1.3 billion people (to our 0.033 billion) [1, 2] accounts for almost half of the world’s coal consumption [3], yet is suffering horrible environmental impacts because of it [4-6].

China is  fast becoming a clean tech juggernaut globally. An October 2016 report from the International Energy Agency determined that China “remains the indisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion, representing close to 40% of growth”. [7] Meanwhile Canada lost 41% of our share of clean tech sales between 2008 and 2014. [8]

Globally, clean technology represents a mult-trillion dollar opportunity. [9] Because of a lack of federal policies to incentivize investment in clean tech between 2008 and 2015,  such as a strong and transparent price on carbon, innovations that were developed in Canada were manufactured in China and sold to Canada, with the majority of jobs and profits staying in China, not in Canada.

Also, it should be noted that China’s cap and trade plan goes into effect in 2017 and it  will give carbon pricing opponents nowhere to hide according to the United Nations. [10]

We should do all that we can to embrace clean tech. China is all in, and our economy will suffer for it.


Carbon Tax-Skeptic Claim: Why should we move if China isn’t moving?
One-liner: China is moving, and is already selling their solar panels back to us.

Carbon Tax-Skeptic Claim: It doesn’t matter what we’re doing because China  are burning so much coal.
One-liner: They’re also making huge investments in renewables, so if we don’t move, we will permanently miss the opportunity to establish the jobs, manufacturing, and intellectual communities that come with being the world leader in an industry.


1) National Bureau of Statistics of China. “China’s Economy Achieved a Stabilized and Accelerated Development in the Year of 2012”. Last accessed 7-27-13.

2) Stats Canada Census. The Canadian Population in 2011: Population Counts and Growth. Last accessed: 10-09-13

3)China consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined”. Jan 29, 2013. U.S. Energy Information Association. Last accessed: 5-22-13.

4) Will Oremus. “In China, the Pollution Is So Bad It Broke the Air-Quality Index”. Jan 14, 2013. Slate. Last accessed: 5-22-13.

5) A Bay of Pigs Moment”. Mar 12, 2013. The Economist. Last accessed: 5-22-13.

6) China wrestles with acid rain threat”. Aug. 27, 2012. United Press International. Last accessed: 5-22-13.

7) Renewable Energy Overtakes Coal . October 2016. BBC News. Business. Last accessed: 11-9-16

8) 2015 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report , April 2015 Analytica Advisors. Last accessed: 11-9-16

9)  Business and Investors Pioneering the Green Economy Highlight Multi-trillion  Dollar Opportunity Tackling Climate Change  December 2015, by Carbon Tracker. Last accessed: 11-9-16

10) China’s cap and trade plan give carbon pricing opponents nowhere to hide: UN. September 20, 2016. Last accessed: 11-9-16

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