Study weighs China’s green options

China could become massively more energy-efficient in the next two decades but its growing economy means its carbon footprint would still increase, according to a study by McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy. “Making the leap would require a green revolution,” Jonathan Woetzel, a McKinsey director in Shanghai, told Reuters ahead of the report’s release.


While the challenges ahead will be difficult, “the opportunity, from a technical perspective, is there,” said Woetzel, a co-author of the report, China’s Green Revolution.


The McKinsey team said China’s current efforts could halve energy intensity by 2030, but emissions of greenhouse gases would more than double. With concerted action, however, emissions from heavily polluting industries – including steel, chemicals and cement — could be greatly reduced.


The area with the most improvement potential is the power sector, according to the report. To achieve the maximum effect in reducing emissions, it said, China would need to do much more. Necessary steps, it said, include using solar power as well as more nuclear and wind; ensuring that buildings and cars are as efficient as possible, and turning desertified land back into green forest.


Even so, the McKinsey report said, China’s carbon emissions in 2030 are expected to be 10% higher than in 2005 and coal demand would be unchanged. Also, the costs of the steps could be prohibitive, with only one-third of the most beneficial measures paying for themselves and another third having a “substantial” economic price tag.


See full story