China aims to emerge as a ‘green’ giant

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar power plant aims to transform China from climate villain to green superpower.

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Built at a cost of about six billion yuan (888576683 US Dollars) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850 MW of power each year – enough to power up to 200,000 households .

“The development of clean energy is very important if we are to keep the promises made in the Paris agreement,” Xie Xiaoping, the chairman of Huanghe Hydropower Development, the state-run company behind the park, said during an interview.

Xie said that unlike Donald Trump, a climate denier whose election as US president has alarmed scientists and campaigners, he was convinced global warming was a real and present danger that would wreak havoc on the world unless urgent action was taken.

“When I was a child, rivers usually froze over during the winter; heavy snowfall hit the area every year, so we could go skiing and skating … people weren’t very rich, and nobody had a fridge, but you could still store your meat outside,”  Xie reminisced, “We cannot do that anymore.”

China is now the world’s top clean energy investor which was once considered one of the biggest polluters on earth. Chinese are hopeful to be produce 110GW of solar power and 210GW of wind power each year as part of an ambitious plan to cut down on pollution and emissions by 2030, China has pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of the total.

China’s energy agency has vowed to spend more than $360bn on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by 2020, cutting smog levels, carbon emissions and creating 13m jobs in the process.

Amid fears of the ‘controversial’ new US president watering down attempts by his predecessor, Barack Obama, to fight global warming, campaigners are calling on China’s rulers to seize the mantle and position their country as the world’s number one climate leader.

China remains the world’s biggest emitter of pollution, producing most of its energy by means of coal; it has also become an unlikely figurehead in the battle against climate change.

Not all are convinced China is ready or even willing to become the world’s top climate leader in a post-Trump world.

Xie, who hosted the Chinese president, scoffed at Trump’s suggestion that climate change was a Chinese hoax and said such claims would do nothing to dampen his country’s enthusiasm for a low-carbon future.

“Even if President Trump doesn’t care about the climate, that’s America’s point of view,” he said. “The Chinese government will carry out and fulfill its international commitments as they always have done in the past, and as they are doing now in order to try to tackle climate change.”

Xie concluded: “I don’t care what Mr Trump says – I don’t understand it and I don’t care about it. I think what he says is nonsense.”

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