China passes its first renewable-energy law

The Chinese legislature on Monday passed a bill aimed at increasing the country’s use of renewable energy by mandating that power-grid operators get a portion of their electricity from local renewable sources and by providing financial inducements such as tax incentives, discounted loans, and a national development fund. When it takes effect in 2006, the law — the first of its kind for China — will be a big step toward fulfilling a pledge made at an international renewables conference last year to increase the country’s renewable-energy production from under 1 percent of the total to about 10 percent by 2010. Said Beijing Greenpeacer Yu Jie, “China could and should be a world leader in renewable-energy development.” Couldn’t happen too soon. Fast-developing China is now second only to the U.S. in emissions of carbon dioxide (though, as the world’s most populous country, it ranks far lower on a per capita basis).