At first glance, China appears to be exacerbating global climate change. The world's most populous country is the fastest growing industrial economy and the single biggest source of carbon emissions.
On the other hand, China may be helping green the world by making environmentally friendly technologies more affordable, says The Wall Street Journal.
China's vast market and economies of scale are bringing down the cost of solar and wind energy, as well as other environmentally friendly technologies such as electric car batteries. That could help address a major impediment to wide adoption of such technologies: They need heavy subsidies to be economical.
In other words, manufacturing anything in China makes it cheaper, and that applies to green technologies, too. That's been a major factor in the 30-percent drop in the price of solar panels over the past year, reported NPR.
The WSJ goes on to note that the country's research into carbon-capture technologies is also cutting-edge, working on procedures that could cut down on emissions from coal plants by storing some of the carbon produced underground rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Manufacturers in developed countries are already interested in how they can apply it to their own facilities.
It's hard for any country to make the switch to greener energy sources, but if China succeeds in fostering innovation and cutting technology costs, the process could make the transition easier for countries all over the world.