Energy Conservation Opportunities in China

China is a land of contrasts, and on my recent trip, which included visits to Shanghai, Lijiang, Xian, Hong Kong/Macau, and, of course, Beijing, we witnessed a country fully committed to irrevocable infrastructural change and possessed of a national will to move forward in both its social and economic growth. From an energy conservation standpoint, there are great opportunities for China to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions. The pictures below show some measure of the wide extremes in energy efficiency that we saw as well as the continuing tension between tradition and modernity– sadly, the rapid urbanization that continues in China is likely to consign much of the rich cultural texture of the country to historical footnotes.

Two examples of energy inefficient vehicles in China today– one in Shanghai and one in Lijiang (Himalayan foothills)–



Clearly the tractors that run on whatever-combustible-fuel-you-pour-into-them need to be taken off the road– in Lijiang the tractor-cum-carryall was the vehicle of choice.

Apparently the Chinese authorities are reducing gasoline subsidies post-Olympics and are maintaining heavy tariffs on luxury vehicles, such as the Ferrari. THat won’t stop the billionaires of China, but these policies may promote greater use of public transportation. A mistake made by the Chinese authorities has been the promotion of a domestic car manufacturing infrastructure for decades– as a result, there is a significant incentive for car manufacturers in China to produce cars.

The architectural revolution in Shanghai is staggering. See some of the examples of change and the vision of Shanghai’s future– Shanghai is planned to be the largest city in the world:


These images of some of the people we met while on the trip truly capture the urban/rural dualism that is at the core of China’s rapid urbanization challenge today.Lijiang_china_187

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