I was reading this piece by Thomas Friedman on China and the Green Revolution. Basically, it illustrates the sheer size and scope of China's renewable energy expansion and investment in the last year. And its further plans for nuclear expansion as well.
As Friedman notes, of course, China is doing all this for domestic reasons: energy security, and the fact that their cities are too polluted already to cope with the largest rural-urban migration in global history.
Though Friedman doesn't speculate on this in the article, it got me thinking again about China's tactics and strategy at Copenhagen. How does it all add up? The Chinese scotching a deal, not only for the world (worried it might limit their growth) - but also scotching the advanced economies setting targets for themselves, that reportedly so angered Merkel and others?
Now, I'm aware the US also played a deeply problematic role (by not playing ball on Kyoto) but it seems to me quite clear what is going on: China intends to sell us green technology down the line, not the other way around.
They don't want any competition from more advanced economies. Their diplomatic game in Denmark supported this aim - a simple old-school, realist game aim of scotching the industrial competition. The failure of Copenhagen is a long term investment in their export-income generating, industrial future. Note also the only position they did strongly advance - that there should be no trade sanctions to enforce any international deal.
I think they correctly assessed that key Western polities would - with the slightest encouragement- get stuck in a partisan cycle of inaction, and award China a big market niche by default. Influential players in the advanced economies would literally jump at the chance to come last in the green tech race, and all they needed was a bit of obstruction to fall over. China didn't even mind playing the villain - all the better, since falling over is so much easier when you aren't blamed for it. Cui bono?
Friedman's article points out there are now so many solar operators in China now the price of solar has dropped 70%. They're weak on R&D though. They know the West has the advantage there, but they also know there are big players who didn't want to see change. So they were most helpful in encouraging the West to delay any serious moves.
So, US, UK, EU and Australian mugs - you want China to get the leg-up on the 'Green Revolution'? Because that was quite probably their plan at Copenhagen.
And you fell for it.