Asian Nations Could Outpace U.S. in Developing Clean Energy

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"If the Waxman-Markey climate bill is the United States' entry into the clean energy race, we'll be left in the dust by Asia's clean-tech tigers."

President Obama has often described his push to fund "clean" energy technology as key to America's drive for international competitiveness as well as a way to combat climate change.

"There's no longer a question about whether the jobs and the industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy," he said on June 25. "The only question is: Which country will create these jobs and these industries? And I want that answer to be the United States of America."

But India, South Korea, China and Japan are pouring money into renewable energy industries, funding research and development and setting ambitious targets for renewable energy use. These plans could outpace the programs in Obama's economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill sponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

"If the Waxman-Markey climate bill is the United States' entry into the clean energy race, we'll be left in the dust by Asia's clean-tech tigers," said Jesse Jenkins, director of energy and climate policy at the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, Calif.-based think tank.

South Korea recently said it plans to invest about 2% of its GDP annually in environment-related and renewable energy industries over the next five years, for a total of $84.5 billion. The government said it would try to boost South Korea's international market share of "green technology" products to 8%. . .

China and India are kick-starting their solar industries. India aims to install 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. And China's new stimulus plan raises the nation's 2020 target for solar power from 1.8 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts.

Confident that the U.S. will develop top-notch technology, the House voted overwhelmingly on June 10 to oppose any global climate change treaty that weakens the intellectual property rights of American green technology.

"We can cede the race for the 21st century, or we can embrace the reality that our competitors already have: The nation that leads the world in creating a new clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy," Obama said on June 29.

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