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Connecticut College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities


China’s energy demands have been growing exponentially since the early 1980s, impacting the global environment and economy. China is already the world’s largest producer and consumer of energy, and as it continues to urbanize and develop its electricity demand is projected to more than double by 2040. China’s energy consumption will not continue its rapid growth forever; its population growth and energy demand are expected to level off by 2040. While mostly relying on the increasing amounts of coal, oil, and natural gas, the Chinese government aims for renewable resources to satisfy 15% of total energy consumption by 2020. That goal is admirable, but will not offset China’s reliance on fossil fuels; the quantity of coal used for energy production is set to double by 2040, accompanied by greaterenvironmental and public health issues.China’s push for clean energy is motivated more by environmental concernsthan energy independence, but one of the major advantages of developing renewable energyis thepotential for decreasing international conflicts over energy resources.Wind and solar energy production has increased significantly in recent years, but China has chosen to shift its focus away from these clean sources of energy, and instead vigorously develop hydroelectric and nuclear power. These sources have the potential to decrease China’s hazardous reliance on coal and oil, but introduce many new environmental problems. Although China is still a developing nation, it is a global leader that should be prioritizing wind and solar energy as the best ways to produce electricity domestically, combat climate change, improve public health, and work towards a future with less environmental damage and international conflict.


Environmental Education | International and Area Studies | Sustainability

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