Tuesday 20 March 2007

Is China the environmental "Elephant in the Room"?

This post from John Elkington and Jodie Thorpe posted on ChinaDialoguetells us nothing new. However, as an overview of the general issues of climate change and China's place in that debate it is a useful starting point (with some good links).

A few choice paragraphs have been quoted here but the article is worth reading. For what it is worth I think that China is being taken seriously but I believe this article has a point - there are so many column inches and air time given to how us, as individuals, can save the planet by changing to energy saving light bulbs - many commentators are missing the point - such actions will be trivial if China and India continue on their current growth and energy consumption paths.

Does this mean we throw our hands up and give in?

Climate’s elephant in the room

The “elephant in the bedroom” is a phrase used to describe a problem that is looming large, but is too overwhelming to be engaged—and is therefore ignored. As the climate change debate goes into overdrive, one elephant in the global bedroom is China. The rate of growth in China’s energy demand is so intense that it threatens to wipe out much of what the rest of the world does. At the same time, however, there are those who predict that China, because its problems are likely to become so severe, will become an incubator for solutions that can be applied worldwide.

China and India, for various reasons, have been blowing hot and cold as they talk about tackling climate change, but both want accelerated transfers of clean technology to their emerging economies. Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chair of China's National Development and Reform Commission, emphasized this need when he told one Davos session that cement producers in his country are only about half as energy efficient as Western competitors—at a time when the country uses something like 40% of world cement production.

More information on China and the Environment can be found on the "Globalisation and the Environment" blog (click the China category).

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