China’s outsize energy needs and its reliance on overseas suppliers have underpinned its foreign policy for decades. Now those needs are changing. The planet’s largest oil and coal importer wants to become greener and more self-reliant and has already taken strides toward those goals. The rest of the world needs to pay attention.
By 2060 the world’s second-largest economy aims to transform its power generation mix from roughly 70% from fossil fuels today to 90% from renewable sources such as wind and solar, as well as hydro and nuclear power, according to BloombergNEF’s China Policy Bulletin in April. That will cut its reliance on resource-rich jurisdictions and on sea lanes controlled by other states. In fact, Beijing’s dominance of battery materials and production may leave the rest of the world uncomfortably dependent on China in the green economy. The Western response—including U.S. government spending on technology research, mining, and processing and a European effort to build up supply chains and recycling capacity—is just beginning.