White House Economic Advisors Warn China Could Outdo the U.S. on Clean Energy


Concord Jing Tang wind farm in Hunan, China      Photo: Apple.com

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

The Biden administration published a report on Friday that argued that failing to make headway on adopting clean energy technologies and lowering carbon emissions will dramatically affect the nation’s economy — potentially putting us behind other global superpowers, particularly China. The report warns that if the nation doesn’t take action, “workers could be hit by the dual negative effects of declining jobs in high-carbon industries alongside too few new domestic jobs in the emerging carbon-free industries of the future.”

Why this Matters:  President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors, who provided the report, emphasized that economic development and addressing climate change are not mutually exclusive — an argument so often deployed by opponents. The report compared the types of investments the United States has made in climate change technology with those made during the Space Race — 0.6 percent of gross domestic product was dedicated to climate research in 2017, compared with 1.9 percent during the lead-up to the moon landing.  Unveiled just as the Global Climate Summit took place, the report is intended to make the case to a domestic audience that failure to take this “opportunity” to create clean energy jobs will have negative impacts.

Falling Behind China?

The United States may already be falling far behind its competitors in adopting and innovating in climate change technology, particularly China. China has dominated market share across many key technology sectors, like battery cell manufacturing and wind turbines. According to Bloomberg, China, which is both the largest market for clean power and the world’s biggest polluter, built 72 GW of wind energy and 49 GW of solar in 2020, leaving the majority of the world’s renewable power — 2/3— in Asia.

Moreover, in the electric battery market, the top battery manufacturers are currently dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea, with companies like Panasonic, LG Chem, BYD China, and SK Innovation. The Chinese government developed Contemporary Amperex Technology, a partially state-owned battery production company, allowing it to become one of the worlds’ biggest battery suppliers

That said, the United States’ green economy is growing — Biden’s American Jobs Plan has set the stage for job growth and clean energy to flourish simultaneously, and last year, the United States installed 29 GW of renewables, almost 80% more than in 2019. But the report warned that there is more to be done, or else it could “mean growing dependence upon more intrepid countries.”

To Go Deeper: Check out the full report here.

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