Getting out of the economic recession is one thing. Staying out is another. A key factor in sustained economic health may well be the ability to lead in new, clean technologies—and the wherewithal to unshackle economies from the burdens of expensive and volatile fossil fuels in so doing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that clean energy and efficiency will provide the economic engine to get us out of the recession and the stability to stay out.

With that in mind, here’s another installment in my campaign against the “China Scapegoat Syndrome” when it comes to smart energy policy (you’ve heard the common refrain: “why should the US do anything about emissions if China and India keep burning coal and growing their populations? It’s not fair!“)

Well, I have little doubt that when China captures the market in clean energy technologies ahead of everybody else, the very same people might be saying the same thing: it’s not fair! 

So we might take heed when we see that China is positioned to become a leading producer of clean vehicles.

Here’s the story from the New York Times:

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  • Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit’s Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today.

    Another important lesson here is that this move toward efficient technology comes from the top. Innovation and new industry fueled by government policy in China.

    They’re making lemonade out of lemons—and anticipating a global market for cleaner vehicles. They have never made a dent in the old gasoline auto industry, so they’re just bypassing it—at a moment when the old guard of gas vehicles is floundering. At the same time, public policy is spurring a domestic industry that not only creates jobs and exports but also reduces the Chinese economy’s dependence on volatile fossil fuels and the costs and hassles of importing them, building the country’s long-term prosperity.

    It’s even more reason to put the “China excuse” on energy policy to bed forever.