Clean Energy At China’s 60th Birthday Party

In recent weeks climate change has certainly been one of the major stories in China, although not the top one. The big focus this month has been on Beijing’s 60th birthday party, October 1, the anniversary of when the Communists officially defeated the Nationalists and marched into Beijing back in 1949. Other than the climate negotiators in Bangkok, the parade marchers and those in the travel industry, the country took a giant vacation and an astonishing 228 million travelers hit the road (or rails or air) (see More than 228 mln Chinese travel during eight-day holidays). Xinhua reports this as a 28% increase over a year ago, suggesting both increased confidence in an economy bolstered by stimulus, and the fact that this was an especially big anniversary.

The parade itself was of course carefully choreographed, with major focus on the military parade, which dominated the first half. (see China Showcases Military in Anniversary Parade and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/01/AR2009100101376.html) Chinese, who rarely see their military are just as fascinated by the hardware display as Western observers, but the overwhelming atmosphere around the day at least among Chinese urbanites, was of tremendous pride at how far China has come in the last 60 years.

The pride was partly displayed with parade floats with very earnest themes. Given that this is an environmental blog, I would remiss not to note the floats focused on clean energy, the environment, and science and technology (see Solar panels at National Day parade highlight changes in China’s energy use, “EARTH” T-shirt spells out China’s green drive at National Day parade, and China National Day parade highlights sci-tech accomplishments). While the clean energy float mysteriously had some oil derricks mixed in with the wind and solar displays, it is significant that the Chinese government chose to highlight its commitment to clean energy.

The National Day Celebrations were bookended by a focus on climate change, with the UN General Assembly meeting right before, and the Bangkok Council of Parties (COP) meeting, a preparatory meeting for the big December Copenhagen Meeting, overlapping with the holiday.