Signs that China is serious about combatting climate change

May 24, 2018


At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping defended the Paris Climate Agreement and called for stronger international co-operation to meet today’s global problems. China’s role will be key, as it is currently the largest investor in sustainable infrastructure.

In 2016, China invested $88 billion in renewable energy, the highest in the world. Home to five of the top solar panel manufacturers and five of the top ten wind turbine makers, China is building capacity at an
astonishing rate, installing on average one new wind turbine every hour. China has also commenced other initiatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Many require nickel-containing materials.

The drive for more electric vehicles (EVs)

As the largest car market in the world, China is providing incentives to buy all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions and help clean up air in cities. The goal is to reach five million EVs by 2020. These vehicles typically utilise nickel-containing lithium-ion batteries. The Chinese government took a further step in February 2018, when it ruled that EV manufacturers are to be responsible for establishing battery recycling channels and service centres.

The plan for more nuclear

To meet future energy demands while lowering GHG emissions, China planned to construct 60 nuclear reactors by 2020. The 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan brought a pause, but China has recommitted and currently has 20 reactors under construction. The primary circuit of a nuclear plant, which contains the reactor core, is almost exclusively nickel-containing stainless steels and nickel alloys.

More environmentally responsible railway

China’s Railway Network Plan (2016-2030) projects that total railway mileage will reach 175,000 km by 2025. Subway and surface rail networks will also be expanded. This will require additional rail cars, which are typically constructed from nickel-containing Type 304 (UNS S30400) stainless steel.
With vast low-lying cities that could be largely underwater in a century if climate change is not mitigated, China is showing that it is serious about taking action.

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