China’s Energy Paradox: Green Energy-Driven Fossil Fuel Investment

The China Guys
7 min readSep 3, 2020
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China is leveraging its global leadership in green energy development to engage OBOR nations in overseas green growth initiatives. However, in the shadows of China’s green campaign exists a more calculated game to secure its own economic interests through the not-so-green methods of shrouded fossil fuel infrastructure investment and debt entrapment.

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China has spent more than the United States and the European Union combined on green energy, which has provided Chinese green energy companies significant resources to invest in R&D and expand their reach. Nowadays, these companies can be found all over the world, investing in sustainability projects from Latin America to Europe in coordination with China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative (“OBOR”). Although China has made promises to promote environmentally-friendly policies within OBOR, numerous contradictions lurk in Beijing’s “green” shadow.

While Beijing flaunts its soft-power in green development, China’s international investments in renewable energy are equally matched by its overseas investment in fossil fuels. Moreover, China’s high-interest loans made to developing nations are notorious for making receiving countries overly reliant on China to build local renewable energy capabilities. China seeks to become a global leader in green development, but its contradictory actions in regards to fossil fuel suggest that the country’s principal goal remains growth-oriented rather than environmentally-focused.

Green Energy Efforts

Beijing’s push toward a greener future took off in 2008 and was revisited in 2010 under the country’s National Energy Commission (NEC). The NEC is responsible for creating China’s sustainable energy plans and monitoring energy, while also accounting for national and international cooperation. In 2012, the Ambient Air Act was the first piece of legislation passed by Beijing that mentioned air pollutants such as PM 2.5 and enforced air quality standards. This was a momentous step forward for Beijing as it solidified China’s commitment to addressing…

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