Monday, 23 July 2007
China vs Crisis?
I've been chatting with some interesting people in China recently. And there is definitely a case to be made that we need to set the record straight on where China sits on green issues.
There is a view in the West that Chinese economic development - for instance the fact that it (may have) overtaken the US in total carbon emissions - outstrips any efforts we could make. On the other hand the Chinese government quite rightly counters with 'what do you expect?' - if the world moves most of its manufacturing base to one region, what do you think would happen to its emissions?
The view I am hearing from China is that first of all public and government concerns are running high; they are in the frontline of climate change (eg desertification) and also suffer unbearable levels of pollution. Secondly that they have the political will (lacking $60Tr in oil vested interests) to leap frog dirty technology. And that they see the potential in clean tech (for instance mass produced affordable solar panelling) being for China what electronics was Japan.
Here's just a few of the many stories that have made it through to the West which support this view:
- Dongtan "the world's first sustainable city": arup link
- Lenovo, the greenest electronics manufacturer in the world: Greenpeace link
- "China's booming recycling industry is helping to slow the destruction of forests worldwide, providing a strong market for wastepaper that mostly comes from the United States and Europe, according to a study released Friday. Brian Stafford, the lead author of the report and an industry consultant, said China is by far the world's biggest consumer of wastepaper and that in the last four years alone, it has prevented 71.6 million tons of wastepaper from heading to landfills in the U.S., Japan, and Europe." Business Week 13/7/07
- Investment in Renewables. China has said it intends to spend an estimated US$200 billion on renewable energy over the next 15 years, partly to build hydropower, wind- and solar-powered plants to fuel its growth. treehugger link
- Massive tree planting programmes link
- Investment in innovation eg solar powered desalination: via hugg and alt fuel cars and wired
It's far from all good, of course, but there is little recognition here for what is being done and being planned - maybe we need a 'villain' to carry our collective guilt?
Given China's trajectory I'd imagine what happens there will, it's true, largely determine the outcome of the current climate crisis. If my inklings are at all correct there is a chance that the history of averting the crisis could be written in Cantonese :J