In a bid to assert its leadership on climate change with an incoming U.S. administration that is hostile to climate science, China announced Thursday it will invest US$361 billion into renewable energy production by 2020.
The world’s most populous country, biggest polluter and largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power toward cleaner fuels and is planning to invest by supporting industries such as wind and solar.
The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the country's National Energy Administration said in a document that lays out its plan to develop the nation's energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.
The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.
However, the agency did not disclose more details on how the funds, which equate to about US$72 billion each year, would be spent.
The announcement also follows the promise made by President Xi Jinping during the world Paris Climate Conference in late 2015, in which he said his country will modernize its coal power plants by 2020 so as to cut their pollutant emissions by 60 percent.
The use of fossil fuels fostered the country's economic growth over the past decade, but in recent years the effect of pollution – especially in air quality – have concerned the government over the health issues threatening its people.
Concerns about the social and economic costs of China's air pollution have increased recently as the northern parts of the country, including the capital Beijing, have battled a weeks-long bout of hazardous smog.
Over the past few days, northern, eastern and central China have been blanketed in a thick layer of grey haze, reducing visibility to nearly nothing.