Will Hutton’s article on the Guardian website today is worth quoting in full, and the comments in response make a visit to the site worthwhile:
China’s inability to improve its energy efficiency and become less of an environmental disaster area used to be its own affair. Now we learn today that it has overtaken the US to be the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, despite having an economy that is a fraction in size. Suddenly China’s problem is becoming a global problem.The difficulty is two fold. Pollution is part of a wider problem of massive waste and huge inefficiency that is embedded in the Chinese economic model. There are no checks and balances, no counterweights and no independent watchdog processes that hold the Chinese Communist party to account. The second is that the party needs growth as almost its sole source of political legitimacy, so concerns about energy efficiency come second to growth and employment.
It is a deadly cocktail. Some 400,000 Chinese die every year from respiratory disease derived from air pollution. Already the targets for carbon and sulphur dioxide emission reduction in the current five year plan have been missed massively. Successive education campaigns have failed. The truth is brutal. Until the Chinese political system changes, there will be little or no progress on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Authoritarian China is set to warm up the planet.
Some of the comments include:
Things change very quickly in today’s world. Before you know it, China will lead the world in solar photovoltaic (PV) production…INVADE! There are more of us than there are of them! …
Bollocks to you. China should carry on as they are…
Our globalised captalist model has created the conditions in China. Most Chinese do not get to enjoy the fruits of their emissions and other related pollution.