Premier Wen Jiabao announced some very ambitious goals for 2015 regarding energy efficiency and carbon emissions last week-end, including an increase in the proportion of non-fossil fuels to 11.4% (from the current 8.3%) and a reduction by 30% of water used per unit of industrial growth.
So, why is one of the countries that de-railed the Copenhagen Summit moving ahead on the green agenda with so much enthusiasm? This has to do in part with the fact the Chinese leaders have since long grasped the importance of sustainable growth but had other priorities in mind and less discontent to deal with at the domestic level.
Will the Chinese leadership manage to keep its promises. While the country tends to have so far a very good track record in achieving official goals, the real issue with sustainable growth is less of putting a lot of money to build something – pouring funds into infrastructure remains relatively easy when your economy is booming – than creating the right institutional environment in which the stakeholders and incentives are aligned. Whether China has reached such institutional maturity remains to be seen but then 2015 is still a few years away!