China's rapid economic expansion in recent years has been matched by its increasingly voracious appetite for energy and natural resources, says William Bleisch. But, as he explains in this week's Green Room, the nation has sometimes been unfairly portrayed as the world's biggest environmental villain.
China has also made dramatic strides in protecting the best examples of natural habitats in nature reserves and other protected areas
As early as 1995, Lester Brown, one of the world's leading environmentalists, predicted that China's increasing demand for food and other commodities would soon drive world prices to record highs.
If the figures were alarming then, they have only grown more so as China's prosperity has increased its global reach and purchasing power.
Cries of alarm have come from more and more people, as China's demand for everything from oil to hardwood timber has been blamed for global price rises.
The increasing affluence of Chinese consumers and their new-found ability to travel the world means that far more of them have the opportunity and the means to purchase tiger skins, ivory and rhinoceros horn.
And as the nation's energy and mining industries have ventured beyond the nation's borders, they have turned out to be every bit as rapacious and unethical as western companies can be; perhaps more so, since they do not have to answer to an open press and domestic outrage.
The impacts of China's affluence are being felt downstream as well, in the form of greenhouse gases emissions.
CO2 emissions from China are increasing faster than from any other country in the world.
In 1990, it already accounted for some 10.5% of the world's CO2 emissions. Now, according to some analyses, China has become the world's largest emitter of climate-altering gases.
The backlash has been predictable. China's exemption from caps on greenhouse gas emissions was one of the major reasons why the US Senate unanimously rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
It was a powerful justification for the Bush administration's stance on Kyoto.
The politicians believed that US efforts would be pointless if China's emissions continued to grow.
But are the criticisms entirely fair? First, markets and emissions must be considered relative to China's enormous population and fairly recent emergence as a newly industrialised nation.
China's population of 1.3 billion is about four times larger than that of the US, but each Chinese citizen uses about 25% of the energy consumed by his or her US counterpart.
Even that measure is skewed, because much of that energy used in China is to manufacture goods that are then purchased by Americans, Europeans and Japanese.
The current rates of emissions also hide the fact that the industrialised western nations (including Japan) have been belching out CO2 far longer than China, which only reached newly industrialised status in the 1990s.
China certainly deserves criticism for its impacts on other areas of the environment.
Chinese consumers have a large and growing appetite for exotic medicines that has directly led to dozens of species in China and throughout the world becoming endangered.
Its citizens are still responsible for consumption of staggering amounts of wildlife and threatened timber products, some illegally smuggled from as far away as Indonesia and Zimbabwe.
In 2008, several US states moved to ban turtle trapping on public lands, and 12 more US turtle species have been proposed for the endangered species list - all because of the impact of trade to China.
Illegal wildlife products have largely disappeared from shops and markets in much of China, as enforcement of wildlife laws has become clearer and more effective
But even with regard to trade in wildlife, the story is hardly as simple as it is often portrayed.
China signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and put it into force in 1981, passing legislation soon after to back up the treaty.
In many areas, the government has made dramatic strides in controlling wildlife trade over the past 20 years, even as demand has sky-rocketed due to consumers' new affluence.
Illegal wildlife products have largely disappeared from shops and markets in much of China, as enforcement of wildlife laws has become clearer and more effective.
Gone are the days when tiger bone wine could be openly advertised, and monkeys and wild caught parrots were openly sold in markets.
The tiger brand plasters found in every Chinese pharmacy contain no tiger, and the tiger and leopard skins sold to foolish westerners at many tourist traps are actually just poorly dyed dog skins.
Chinese consumers seeking to stock up on threatened wildlife must now travel to neighbouring countries, where unscrupulous local dealers still feel safe offering them a multitude of products, both fake and real.
China has also made dramatic strides in protecting the best examples of natural habitats in nature reserves and other protected areas.
More than 15% of the nation's land area is legally protected in thousands of nature reserves and national parks, and most national reserves now have full-time staff that carry out regular patrols.
The proposal and approval of the enormous Giant Panda Sanctuary World Heritage Natural Site in the Sichuan Qionglai Mountains is just one of the most recent examples of China's political will and dedication to protecting world natural heritage.
This is essential, since the rapid pace of development means that natural ecosystems outside protected areas are under increasing threat from the relentless search for more land and resources.
Controlling the breakneck development has proved to be difficult or impossible for many regions, but a new law on Environmental Impact Assessments, which became effective in September 2003, has been praised as a model of good legislation.
It includes provisions to increase protection for critical habitats and protected areas. There is still a major gap between policy and implementation, but it may not be long before the "Three Simultaneous Commencements" (the start of permit application, the start of the environmental impact assessment and the start of digging) becomes a thing of the past, at least in the country's more progressive regions.
China has made impressive efforts to rise to standards set by the international community, but the efforts have not always been good enough to stem the tide in the face of massive and growing pressures.
China has experienced a number of environmental disasters recently
It can be argued that none of this will mean much if China's greenhouse gas emissions cause climate disasters to habitats and species throughout the world.
But here too, China has responded to global needs.
It signed the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1998 and ratified the Protocol in 2002, something that the US failed to do.
More importantly, it made emissions reduction a national policy in 2005, when the nation's 11th Five-Year Plan (for 2006 to 2010) set a target of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20%.
The EU gave itself a similar target, but has until 2020 to achieve it; US plans are less ambitious still.
Given the pattern of exaggeration and over-statement often seen in the international press, it is little wonder that strident international criticism just seems to be dismissed as sour grapes by most people in China.
Is it time, as many Chinese critics argue, for westerners to back off and tend to their own houses?
Perhaps. But isn't it the responsibility of all, both producer nations and consumer nations, to work together to solve problems such as depletion of ocean fisheries and over-exploitation of threatened species?
We might hope that at least global climate change is so much of a clear and present danger that, for once, countries could put aside their differences and act together to find a workable solution, perhaps based on the seemingly fair standard of a "climate change allocation" for each person on the planet.
China should respond to critics by providing clear answers detailing what is being done to solve real problems. And that is not "China-bashing"; the same could be said of every fully industrialised nation.
Global problems demand global accountability; and that creates a responsibility of each of us to point out when policy and implementation are failing, and to help each nation rise to the needs.
Dr William Bleisch is science director of the China Exploration & Research Society
The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website
Do you agree with William Bleisch? Is China being unfairly portrayed as an environmental villain by the international media? Is the Chinese government leading the way when it comes to matching words with action? Or is the nation's consumption of resources unsustainable at its current levels?
not good enough to blame one, where each and every one should be responsible for the greener technology.why dont you talk about the industrial revolution in the us and western countries.what about the pollution those days.while talking about killing the animals why don't you care much about chicken, and other non veg foods? all are animals and all should be treated equal to human being in concern of earth, as they too born equally with us , isnt it? lets all have a step towards the greener living on earth. thank you
vijay nandamuri, INDIA
It's not fair to blame any particular country for carbon dioxide emissions. The carbon dioxide emission from India is 2.5% with 1.16 bn populations and from China is around 8.5% with 1.33 bn populations. Both these countries hold major chunk of human population around 38% of the global population. Whereas, UK is a small country which emits around 6.5% of carbon dioxide and US with 30.6 million populations emits 27% of Carbon dioxide. The picture is clear; the current form of development has a direct link with the carbon dioxide levels. Both human population and current form of development are biggest threat to the Planet. We can fix this problem by mutual cooperation only; therefore it's unfair to start these types of debates. China is a country which has faced major floods, droughts and earthquakes in the past few years. For meeting environmental challenge every individual is important. In these circumstances we should not blame anybody as 'eco villain'. Instead, common areas must be explored. Sorry, I am not agreeing with the approach of Mr. William Bleisch for highlighting china even with 'Unfair tag'. However, I support view of Mr. John, UK, that cheap goods are posing disposal problem. So definitely we need right alternatives but it's not good to blame any country when you have to walk together. It's not a challenge of one nation it's a global challenge and we need a comprehensive strategy and action. I firmly believe we can meet this challenge.
Sanjay Singh Thakur, Indore,India
This is one kind of fair article about China, its rather seldom to have a somewhat balanced view on china. I am getting tired of Westen media or rather the west intends to put the blame on China, shame on you!!! China has done a HUGE job to improve its ennvironment, regardless what you west say about it, although still needs to be even better, no doubt about that.
Jovi, Stockholm Sweden
Europe and USA had their go at destroying the planet centuries ago, therefore, so the argument goes, developing countries are entitled to their turn at all out efforts at destroying the planet. A little puerile?
Just think with your brain and not by other parts. The biggest polluters are the rich Corps with big projects, they came into China for the cheap labour and pollute the country and exports the final products back to their homeland or anyone else can afford it. Now the China Govt is getting richer and start to think about the environment and discourage the high polluting industries by increasing taxes to these industries. What do they do? They are not gonna pollute their homeland, and the labour cost is too high anyway and so let's move to other countries, like Vietnam, Laos....etc. The poorer nations that has no choice because they need the investments to provide jobs to their own people. Please do not blame on any country, what we see in this society is greed and lack of respect for each other. The reality of our world is when we have money and power, what we say and do is always right and the poorer ones just obey or too bad and suffer.
MikeTT, Chch, NZ
I do think China is being unfairly targeted. Canadians are one of the largest consumers of energy per ca pita. In my visits to China, Is aw a lot of walking and a lot of dual flush toilets, something not so prevalent in North America. We consume a lot less energy driving to a store to purchase products made in China, then it does to produce them there and ship them here.
Mark Pomponi, Cambridge, Caanda
Let's not forget that it serves US and EU emission level interests to shift production to China - licenced manufacturing there keeps down emissions here! A current good example is the light bulb ban, where apparently the emissions are 75x greater with the "energy saving" bulbs that are made in China, compared to one made in France - add to that the intercontinental transport emissions, which of course apply to all other Chinese made goods too!
Peter, Dublin, Ireland
It has been almost a habit of some westerners to blame China for almost everything: human rights is on top of the list and now environmental issues. It is hardly fair but I guess it is even harder to change this addictive habit because somehow it makes those who are addicted to it feel good about themselves. Granted, China has many problems in almost all aspects of life and a lot can be improved, same as here in the west. However it takes time, especially if you are dealing with a population that big. Is China trying? I believe so. To look at China from a fair perspective, examine the history of the western countries - -especially the US. And look at what they are at now: corporates have polluted the waters, soils and air of the States and refuse to spend a cent from the profit gained that contributed to the pollution, to clean up (see a recent report on water pollution done by PBS Front Line, as an example). In this case, I believe China should not be blamed. We are all polluters, period. And westerners contribute much more per capita than any developing countries, including China. And keep in mind, as a global community, China has been producing a lot of products consumed by westerners -- in a way, western countries have shifted sources of pollution to China. Thus to be fair, stop pointing fingers and yelling blames -- help China to achieve the goal that you have in mind, either financially or technically. That will prove you really care. If you are not willing to do so, it would better keep your silence because you don't really care anyway.
Why blame china? Actually china is being used as production hub by western corporates. Production has moved to china for two main reasons: 1. Low labor costs, and 2. Western countries don't want to damage their own environment. Coming to Quality of products, its you get what you pay. Western corporates have made sure that prices of things made anywhere else are so high that people have no choice but to buy things made in china. It has more profits for them, because you keep on buying things regularly.
SK, TW, TW
As is shown in the picture above, we can see that so many tiger skin have been seized by customs house officer,and all of them would be smuggled to other countries.So I consider that all of the countries should protect the animials and forbiden sell and buy the wild animals.
why blame china, the EU and the United States being producers of modern technology and being industralized countries crate green gas emisions to? what is the difference between them and china, china is growing to became a superpower, but the US and Europe are already a complete develop country and they have not stoped the contamination. ok so it is not sick to skinning cows but it is sick to skinning dogs, they are food for chinese are cows are for us we got stop thinking that all coutnires may think as the western world and we have to start thinking that the wrold is complete diversified between cultures.
giovanni gaitan, Bogota, Colombia
We shouldn't blame China for satisfying the West's demand for cheap, disposable products. Western consumers should instead look at the products they purchase, and think of each one as a "vote". The best thing we can do is to only purchase those items whose every step of production we support (that means resource extraction, processing, fabrication, and distribution). If you have a problem with the quality or means of production of products from China, don't purchase them!
Harvey, Port Alsworth, AK
This artical is about the work on environment protection that China has been doing. However, I could not help thinking of many things relating to this becuase this is like just one tip of the iceberg of most western countries. As China is growing and developing rapidly, those industrialized contries start to worry about their own influences and wealth. They are afarid that China might be as rich as them or even richer than them in one day and that they might lost their predominance which they have been so used to. What they really do not want to see is the development of the developing contruies, whereas China is rising as the strongest developing country. No way for the developed contries to bear this so that they always focus on and exaggerate something not good in China in order to mislead their own people's understanding of China, and distorted news or information in media is just one means of these coutries. How silly it is. Time will prove everything. There will be more and more Mr. Lester Brown. Seeing is Believing. If you have not visited China and see the problems by yourself, do not let your eyes blinded by the misquided information. Check yourself before you criticize another.
Anthea Liu, Sudan
Every Chinese person is an heir of the industrial revolution. What's happening in china is not some separate re-creation of 18th century europe, but a result of it. Without the industrial revolution of the west there wouldn't even be a communist party! What is more, technologies that have been produced via a chain of development that started off producing a lot of CO2, but has now been imported into china at it's more advanced levels. Here is a reason for china to cut it's emissions less: If we say every country is a successor to the polluting past, we can then ask who has benefited most. We won't pretend that it is somehow the children of those old innovators who "must" of benefited most, or any other hypothetical measure, we will simply look at who was richer when the effect was realised. Those who benefited more from a polluting form of production should pay more for it's replacement. But that effect should equal out over time, so that eventually every person on the earth gets a fair ability to produce CO2. My solution? Cap and trade with faster shrinking caps on nations richer in the 1990s. That will spread money from country to country but fade away as everyone reaches the correct amounts of emissions. Finally, some diplomat suggested that the people who consume should pay for the carbon emissions. No prob, just pass it on in prices! Then we would still be calculating the allowance where the actual processes can be monitored, instead of having to track back through the supply chain across the world.
Josh W, Swansea, Wales
I think that people like John should grow up to the fact that every human being has to be considered as a person of equal rights. This extends to the usage of the resources of the planet. Chinese by now produce approximately 5.5 kg CO2 per capita and year, while US citizens produce about 24 and Europeans 12-15. This does not yet reflect the fact that Europe and USA outsourced a reasonable share of their polluting industries to countries like China so that only part of China's pollution is fully home-made. When we say that CO2 reduction is an issue of everybody in the world that must extend to every person, otherwise it is fruitless. And then there cannot be any excuse for some regions of the world creating 3, 4, or 10 times more havoc for world's climate than the rest. And it is inacceptable that well 200 years of pollution in advance from the beginning of the industrial age on should simply be forgotten. The whole world has to strive for a sustainable level of emissions, on per capita base. And all efforts have to be united to achieve it. For that purpose, the most advanced technologies must be spread everywhere. By the way, I come from Germany, a country with mediocre conditions for wind energy at best, and recognize how Britain, the country in Europe with most excellent wind classes which could easily build up land based wind energy to 100GW capacity and 450TWh/a output (would mean 90% of Britain's electrical energy generation) is still shying on local quarrels and did not build up a tenth of Germany's wind power generation for nothing than local conservatism, irrationalism, and sentimentality. And yes, we have these bastards in Germany, too, and wind power generation could be better without them. But Britain is wasting her capacities to help world climate for stubbornness and sentimentality, that is closer to evilness than to stupidity. Now look at China: China will overtake Germany, and even the US, in windpower generation soon. They are the world no 1 in solar heating, with about 60% of worldwide capacity installed as I recall. They are leading in small hydro with well 80% of worldwide capacity, some 35GW. There are more things, they are fighting hard to get their industrial growth sustainable. I know China since 25 years and am amazed by the changes. If that country doesn't make it, we all are lost, yet I think that China gives reasons for cautious confidence. Yet we in the West are not at all in the position to teach them lessons.
There is no difference between us. We all as human beings want a quality of life, so does the Chinese on the one planet. So you guys in the West please stop messing about the issue and come to a solution before it is really too late.
Lucky Man, China
what other country is doing to this world,it is worst than what is happening to china to-day.
michela, rosehill , mauritius
My phantom theories,worth 2 cents of thoughts- The West capitalism (in other term globalization) moves their production lines to the East not just for cost savings from business perspective but comes with some political prices: 1. No one doubts that the West been in forefront in the development of technology and science over the century. As they see the change in world climate coming, they slowly moves their low-end production (one with high CO2 emissions) to developing countries ard the world. Over time, they raise these carbon footprint issues as though those countries r the culprit of the entire problem and they could be exempted from helding accountablity and responsibility. What a brilliant strategy, why not the Western media write up an article of how much CO2 been emitted (with aids from scientists perhaps) during and after the industrial revolution period? 2. Does anyone know how much oil we use for cross-continental shipment? The oil giants see the shortcomings arising so they could reap the rewards. They have been waiting for this moment to come so they could benefit from high oil price. Remember $140/barrel, peak oil theories (bshit theory), etc. How much $ they allocate for cutting down carbon footprints? In a nutshell, all efforts should be put in place by every party, not just the govt but the corporation, ppl, etc. Stop pointing at any party, but comes with a mindset of solving this problem together! This could be a tough call as each is looking their own interest until they realize the severity of the problem.
Tai, Toronto, Canada
china is ruining the world they have way too many people so many that they are living everywhere in the world taking jobs and oxgen from the rest of us. they are a fithly country something has to be done to save our world from there abuse,
loire knocket, brussels
Demanding and blaming the Chinese for CO2 level rising is purely racially motivated! it means the Chinaman has no rights to better life than the Whiteman. by demanding china to cut co2 is basically asking them to kill of half it population so the rest of the world can carry on poluting. Why dont the Western world stop relocating polluting industries to China that would stop the increasing co2 level in China.
China needs to be very responsible for her own environment and the world's. That is not happening at the rate most would like to see it, but it is not inferior to some first world nations in terms of investment and effort. Does that make her entirely responsible or not responsible, is a matter of sensationalism, and completely irrelevant. If China is an eco-villain, so are we generally all, and there is nothing unthruthful about that. The challenges that China face are stark and deep, but we should focus on a global unified approach to tackle climate change, especially from the big nations. To singlely label China responsible is neither true, nor helpful. In 50 years, if current trends continue, that claim will have a factual foundation, but let us not get there already and help to change the course of human damage.
The core of the problems here is that: When you come from your comfortable cities and life style, and start to tell other people who are working as hard as they can to try to make a living and hoping someday they may be able to live like you do, to change or stop what they are doing, because it "damages the environment", to them, you will just sound like some arrogant rich kid who has absolutely no idea about their daily straggles, and yet likes to stick nose into their everyday life, making impractical and totally irrelevant suggestions. Your arguments will just be as convincing as when your rich cousin trying to convince you that buying a properties are much better investments than saving into a fixed interest bank-account. I find this point is often what the environmentalists and "high moral" people just don't seem to get. They often mention all these fancy green technologies available, but usually fail to give any analysis on the practicalness of these technologies in the concerned regions, nor do they usually seriously consider the running costs and economical site of the equation. It is all so well to brag about theories on how things might or should work sitting in a arm chair one million miles away, while to the local people the "if it is working, don't fix it" mentality usually sound much safer and more assuring. These "polluting" industries in China, most of them are not simply greedy. Most of them are in fact fighting hard for survival, and many people's livelihood depends on them. Introducing more green technology usually means more running costs which would lead to them being shut down, which leads to more unemployment, more poverty and social unrest. That is why a lot of smaller industries and local governments have the tendency to try everything to circumvent those environmental protection measures issued by the central government, in most cases it is not greed, but simple survival. I personally agree with all the environmental concerns, being a scientist my-self, I know the seriousness of the problems. However I will go around and tell people on what to do only when I have a practical solution at hand, otherwise I would shut up. If the rich nations really value environment so much, they have a practical solution that they can offer: that is to give away all these advanced green technologies for free, and help with the installations and implementations for free. If you only criticize and offer zero practical solutions, you might as well shut up, because doing so only provokes negative image of "being green" as some sort of rich-people's religion.
Will, London, UK
China 'unfairly seen as eco-villain' Of course, it is absolutely unfair to say China is ruing the environment, because the world's ever biggest environmental villains have always been in North America and Europe. That is beyond reasonable doubt!
Marcus Tullius, Bremen/ Germany
To Lee from Northampton, England, before you accuse China of destroying Tibet's culture and environment, let's look at the long list of countries that were destroyed in a much worse manner by colonial England. In a similar form, the article is asking for each of us to look at what our own countries have "achieved" in the past before pointing our fingers at others. Sure China doesn't have the best records in human rights, the implementation of government policy, or even accurately reporting statistics, but nor did the UK, US, Australia and many many other now-developed countries around the world when they were still growing out of poverty. China is a developing country, in a sense that a substantial proportion of the people still live on less than US$1 a day. Should we halt its growth out of poverty by pointing fingers and shutting down all the factories to leave the citizens to starve to death? Or maybe a better method would be to help China, and indeed the rest of the world, implement cleaner energy strategies..
Marlene, Melbourne, Australia
I am just back from a cultural exchange visit to China. Pollution is a BIG problem, but people are aware of it. On the plus side, all new motorbikes/mopeds have had to be electric for the last 4 years, there seem to be hardly any roofs without solar water heating if they face south, and millions of trees are being planted. The government seems to get climate change, based on news articles and their recession spend projects. There is a lot more action in China than in the UK where rhetoric and spin rule the day. UK per capita spend on renewable R&D £0.20 pa. This for us to become world leaders in green technologies!!! The Chinese should give us some hope for the future not dismay. Sure they are not perfect, but they are engaged (they also stand to suffer worse than us from climate change, so enlightened self interest also plays a role).
Martin , Glasgow UK
Why does China emit so much CO2? Because it has the largest population in the world and is the second largest exporter in the world. It has to have such high speed growth to bring millions of people out of poverty. Even after so many years of developments there are millions in China that are under poverty levels. As far as animal welfare goes, the west isn't so pure. The American Bisons and Dodoes are good examples. China needs time to evolve itself into a ethical green democratic country. I wonder if any of one of the OECD country can bring its per capita emissions to the Chinese levels and then point finger at China.
Bala, Leamington Spa
john UK. why blame china? why not buy quality but expensive german or japanes products? because you (like everyone else) want to save money. secondly the US is a worse culprit when it comes to using energy. (similar amount to china with a population 1/4 of the size) As for environment china, india, pakistan most if not the whole eastern world, africa and south america allows animal fighting and sales (legal or illegal). bribes and going underground keeps it alive. in the US and W Europe it also exists but in much smaller numbers and bribery is much lower. however, corruption is the same here just well hidden. MP expenses are 1 example. the media paints the picture that US and W Europe is superior and has better morals. this all a lie. politicians are just playing the blanme game. people are falling for it.
Englishman, Eng City, Engshire,` England
The one thing that people often miss when they complain about the quality of products made in China is that you get what you pay. If you pay a fraction of what a French washer costs, you should not expect a Chinese washer to last ten years. This is not to say China shouldn't invest in cleaner ways of energy production. It should because this lowers the health risks among its population. Researchers have found that, among other things, being exposed to excessive CO2 gases can cause many respiratory problems.
Ernest Leung, Australia
anyway, Chinese gets resources/energy from other countries by paying money, not like the Western countries did in the past centuries, they paid the resources/energy to developing countries by bullets and shells.
Good article, the first of this kind that I've read written by a "westerner". In my opinion, the blame to China on the CO2 emission just reflects the selfishness of western citizens, as echoed by some readers' comments here. Coming to the right to prosperity, no one seems to care whether it is part of the "human rights". For you guys, perhaps Chinese who are living on 2000$ per year should stop seeking better life since that would mean "increased" use of energy and thus "increased" CO2 emission, which would endanger the life quality of western people earning 50000$ per year. We want clean air as well and we will do our best, but that should not mean that we should be required to sacrifice.
BeijingNetizen, Beijing, China
I agree with the previous comments that there indeed seems to be two issues mixed. There's the environmentalist point of view, and then there's the political reality, or wait... can these really be seperated? First of all, China is only trying, with some justification, to acquire similar level of economic wealth as the western countries have, using only means possible, the same way western countries did it a century ago. This can make the environmentalist point of view sound a bit hypocritical, when presented by westeners. Secondly, if this really was only an environmental issue, then the western countries would be required, for the sake of equality to directly transfer a portion of their wealth to economically poorer countries, including China. Yet this is not happening, it is not even discussed. So although China can be rightfully blamed, it will not sound convincing before this really becomes only an environmental issue, and this reassessing process should be started from this [western] side.
S. R., Helsinki, Finland
China is 100% responsible. Why? For failing to invest in clean technology from the beginning and by not adhering to quality standards. Most "made in China" products last a fraction of the time that they used tolast when made in the West. This leads to much more waste. (Not only waste in the landfills but huge mines all over the world, destruction of the rain forests etc. ) I have personally gone through either a washer or dryer each year & I wish manufacturing would move back to the West where I would only need to replace these items every 10 years.
John of England states that environmetalists need to clarify their thinking. Fact is that money moved to invest in China was moved by capitalism not members of the Green party. Globalisation means it is inevitable that as capital can move, so will centres of manufacture until a fairly even spread exists. This means British workers may eventually work for Chinese wages or chinese get british wages. In the latter case, if that happeneed rapidly, the environment would defintitely be hugely threatened. maybe the idea of being less ambitious, as a relihgion of old China, Buddhism tells us is the way to exist, would help the world deal with these problems. rampant consumerism in evry country on earth will mena mass extictions. we will have become as the Daleks
Nick Hales, Bath, England
"If the environment was the only issue, then a molecule of CO2 is a molecule of CO2 - where it comes from is irrelevant." - John The aim is to reduce global warming, but it's unfair for all the responsibility to be put on China, yes China needs to reduce emissions, but it's only fair that developed western countries give aid in terms of green technology and funding for renewable energy generators to be built. As the article says it's the west that's consuming the products made from the energy used. "whilst China continues to INCREASE, wiping out any gains we make and more." - John No, if the west does not make an effort to reducing emissions it'll speed up emissions even more, you do not need to be laziest on the team before you need to increase efforts. Plus China is doing very well in terms of spending the proportion of it's GDP on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, it's not realistic to expect it to do significantly more.
Mark, Auckland New Zealand
It was all started by the developed nations and when it has reached the tail end where the rest are trying to catch up everyones poiting at them before taking the necessary corrective actions in their backyard. I am more than certain that some large contributors of CO2 such as Air travel and 4 wheelers are still the highest in US thanks to the gas guzzlers and way of life.
Reading these comments, I am not surprised to see that readers still focus on the negative aspects of the country. This article is supposed to illustrate that the country is not 100% villainous as generally portrayed but I guess it has failed to convince people that there exists (guess what) the good along with the bad and the ugly. Which is unfortunate because I do not think one could argue that any country is herioc on the climate issue. Although China has many improvements to make, I am often frustrated with people who condemn the country because of its faults when there are, as described in the article, progress being made. Also, there are other articles in media outlets such as but not limited to the guardian which describe the progress that China has made in regards to the environment (as well as the huge difficulties remaining) so the point of view mentioned here is not necessarily 'funded' by special interests.
Alice, Kingston, Canada
noboby could know how much CO2 could be produced from Western countries during Industrial Revolution...it's a secret.if they knew, I thought they will not be interested in this topic again.
David lee, guangdong/china
I have lived in so many countries both the east and the west. I have seen the effort that not even Singapore has achieved since the 60's. Finally, a report of the enviornmental issues in China that's not just one-sided. As for, "leopard skins sold to foolish westerners at many tourist traps are actually just poorly dyed dog skins." it's doesn't matter if you are pets lover or not; remember, when the buying stop so does the killing. I just hope that Layla from London is a vegetarian who doesn't use any animal skill product. Just because you are a pet lover you think that it's cruel to kill and skin them? Mind you all living things has to be treated right, you can segregate them, if not you are discriminating one living things from the another. Sigh... Another western double standard placed on the value and neglect to see it from someone else eyes.
China to blame?? Are you joking? 1/4 of world's population is not consuming as much as it's fair share. Bush was looking for excuse to justify consuming 25% of the world's share with 5% of the population. China has the strictest environmental egulation in the world and there's no hope any business can comply to it. It needs to be more pragmatic and more serious about the implementation and enforcement. I totally agree with accusations like illegal trading of wild life animals etc, and there's been increasing awareness. Sports stars like Liuxiang and Yao Ming are lending their weight to the cause. Like a catalogue of other issues in China, we need to improve the justice system and uphold the rule of law, which are the root cause.
Vinnie Chan, Hong Kong S.A.R
Great article. People should really understand that global warming is a gradual process going back to the industrial revolution. It was then that the West started dumping CO2 and other harmful chemicals in the air which continues to this day. The West needs to admit that they are the main culprit and take the lead in this global cause. China needs to participate but blaming China for something the West has caused is wrong. It's time to stop bashing China just because it is fashionable.
I think it is all about preconception, thanks to the western media, the image toward China has pretty much stayed unchanged for most of the westerners, they still see China as the one some twenty years ago. I admit, pollution and corruption remain serious in China, but the government is doing something about it, and it takes time. Over the past few decades, China has been a scapegoat so that you guys have someone to point your fingers at when things happen. In fact, the Chinese are just doing what it takes to become a developed country, and it come with a price. All today's super powers went through the same process before, like the U.K. back in the industrialization, the U.S. after the civil war and Japan after the Second World War. The fact is, all these are not only happening in Chine, but other countries as well, such as India and the Vietnam, the other two emerging Asian countries. However, for some reasons, only news from China hit the headline most. Remember one thing, most of China's products end up in stores overseas instead of its own. This is a job (the productions) that someone has to do and it happens to be China. It is true that China could have done a better job in terms of environmental protection and Public Relations, it is, yet, not fair to criticize the state without taking its effort in to consideration. When it comes to pollution, I don't think the westerners are so much better than the Chinese, how many of you will not have your air conditioner turned on in summer while most of the Chinese still can not afford one. So please don't talk like China is a super villain who wants to destroy the world, I do think the Chinese feel the impact as well, just they don't have an option, don't forget they are those who live in the worst hit area. Anyway, time will tell
Fung, Bangkok. Thailand
China's choice to prostitute itself and its resources for the easy money of international export does not automatically earn it an exemption from ecological responsibility.
Manao Black, Bangkok, Thailand
China is far away for perfection, first of all. we can see anything outrageous here like each corner in the world......... but, it is going ahead, just like what London,NY....was doing centuries back ......., that`s it.......surely, more complicated regarding crazy huge polulation....., by the way, USA is not the tomorrow of China, China must find our own way..........
We should focus less on blame, and more on reducing all our emissions together as responsible human beings.
Sherman, Hong Kong, China
China has indeed been making strides in environmentalism but a lot more work still needs to be done. The various industries need to be engaged to do their part in their carbon footprint. There is still widespread poaching of animals and trading of animal parts. More needs to be done to protect the animals, the domestic ones included.
Marvin Mohan, Singapore
China does recieve particular attention in westerners media, due to a lack of, freedom of information, our media can and always have told us what it wants to. Unfortunatly none of this will change anytime soon. I believe that being a global issue, each country should be held responsible to a single set of global emissions with a reduction across the board. Why should some reduce more then others? Here in this country we voted for a government who was going to impliment a carbon emissions tax. This has failed to take off because the government wants to see what other countries in particular the USA are going to do with theirs. This example highlights why I believe the set targets should be taken out of government hands and have the global community set such targets (possibly the UN although they can't seem to agree on anything that isn't soft) Each particular country needs to put global warming ahead of profits, even if it upsets everyones way of life, its for the better whole. Our kids, animals, hell even the noisy builder next door at 6 am. If animals can work together as a unified whole, why can't we?
Cian, Perth, Australia
China is prone to being the environmental villain because almost everyone concludes that the prevalence of 'Made in China' translates to countless smoke-coughing factories. Fact is, not only does China have to satisfy an abating international appetite, it also has to keep its citizens locked on 'prosperity' and 'stability', for the Chinese Communist Party fears civil unrest above all. It will be difficult to the international community to ask China to commit more to reducing CO2 emissions because arguments propped up by human development are almost always prevailingly valid. China is going to see such demands as attempts to restrict its development, after all, when developed countries were developing, 'climate change' was non-existent.
Ernest Leung, Australia
It is unfair to China, the Chinese must attach more importance upon the environment protection and economic structure adjustment,in hope that they can set up a new nation in the world.
The solution is simply for Westerners to stop buying all this Chinese/Asian made "landfill-reasdy" rubbish. This coming Depression should help.
To Layla of London: How is skinning a dog any worse than skinning a cow to make a leather boot? Unless you're against all killing of animals, your moral objection to killing dogs is merely a product of your personal view that dogs are pets and therefore somehow superior to other animals. Do you think the killing of cows is any less horrid to some Hindus and Buddhists, or that eating pigs is any less horrifying to Muslims?
Gavin, Auckland, New Zealand
Well written. Sounds plausible.
(By the way, who funds 'China Exploration & Research Society'?) Just Google it to find out.......... CERS is supported by a small group of individuals with vision, and responsible corporations including Shell, HSBC, UBS, IBM, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Panasonic, Sony, Land Rover, and others
Kent , Chicago, USA
If all the factories that are owned by westerners leave China, the CO2 level will reduce dramatically immediately. However in that case there will be many bankruptcies or the CO2 level in the western world will be rising since the factories need to be located somewhere. However it is also a matter of fact that if China do not have all the partnership from its westerners, its GDP will fall greatly too, and unemployment even famine at some less privileged areas would cause serious problems. We cannot simply critics one side in favour of the other. The point that Dr William Bleisch was trying to stress was that the effort China made to cut emission and protect the natural environment is being underestimated, and the western world could do more to help the situation rather than blaming it all on one country that is producing 'big numbers'. The reasons and sources behind the big numbers need to be understood. An equality agenda is not at all necessary but it is vital at a technical point of view that these sources and reasons behind the big numbers are justified. It is only then the effective and appropriate ways of combating carbon emission can be worked out. It does not necessarily mean that the western world needs to cut its energy consumption and sacrifice at China's gain; It means that the western world needs to cut its energy because 'a CO2 molecule is a CO2 molecule', and need to stop blaming other countries for its own exacerbated energy consumption. Also please let me remind everyone who's reading this page that China is 39.5 times the size of the United Kingdom, and the Chinese population is 22 times the size of the United Kingdom. The time and effort it takes for one piece of legislation to be effective is much more, if not at an exponential ratio. Moreover, may I just point out that the western world/industrialised countries do not consist only the US and England, please at least include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The China Exploration & Research Society (CERS) is a NGO supported by a small group of individuals with vision, and responsible corporations including Shell, HSBC, UBS, IBM, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Panasonic, Sony, Land Rover, and others.
Sherry, London, UK
I am an overseas Chinese Before I moved ouf of Inner Mongolia.I thought wind means full of sand, dus... plastic be blowed every where. My grand parents lives in a small desert. I really think the sheep or goats only have sand to eat in winter& spring. The desert is starting swollow nearby towns , cities now. China has to do something very quickly now, before it is too late
I'm tired of a lesser of two evils argument. Tell a Baiji (Chinese River Dolphin) about all the strides that China is making... if you can find one.
Michael Melamed, Riverside, CA, US
it is really easy to point out the mistakes from the others when you dont see your own mistakes, china has a lot of issues like many other countries but i think we have to see china as a huge example of efficient and effective economic, technology and globalism groth this country has had in the last 30 years. like many other indsutralized countries they have to create waste and create green gas emision but al least they are working o it as fast as they can, one big example is the huge dam they are constructing in the yantze river to change their coil, wood based energy. the bigger coutnrioes are sacerd of the fast groth china is having so they must look ways to take off credit from china and make comsuption slow down from chinese producers and reactive their inner economies since now a days everythin we consume has a chinese name of it, they should stop blaiming china for the misfoturne of the actual panorama we are having and we got to start taking china as an example and use some things they already did to aplly to our countries eventhoug they need to improve a lot of things.
gio vanni gaitan, colombia
I hear there were 3/4 million new cars put on the road EACH MONTH in China this spring. It doesn't matter how efficient they are, the sheer numbers are staggering! This is Jevon's Paradox writ large! As for skinning dogs, Layla....well they do EAT them as well in China. They eat absolutely everything that isn't poisonous.
Dave, Campbell River BC Canada
Spot on, John. If we are trying to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the 60%-80% or more that is being talked about then lets get on with it, all of us. If we're trying to make some sort of retrospective compensation claim for the "ills" of the last 500 years then count me out.
Ian Nartowicz, Stockport, England
As a developing country, China is trying to cooperate with other developed countries. However for most western people, China is still a communist country controlled by a strict central government. I would like to say that if you never been to that country, and your information is mostly from the mass media, please don't judge China base on those information(or so-called knowledge). Every country has their own flaws, but when it comes to China, everything seems to be wrong. Why can't we just accept the diversity of the world.
Allison, Sydney, Australia
A fairer comments from the author, its made the bbc more readable in regarding Chinese matter, not propaganda, but base on real evidence.
"am I the only one who think that dog skinning is sickening? Dogs are not endangered animals but as someone who has got used to having cats and dogs as pets, I think it is very cruel." Only if you think eating beef is sickening. The idea that certain animals should not be exploited the way the West exploits cows and pigs is a culture bias. Various cultures breed dogs and cats (and even mice, in pre-modern Central America) for food. I have not tried dogs or cats yet, but I am not hypocritical enough to condemn those who do because of my own preference for pork. Many Hindus, in fact, would despise the West for eating beef.
china has shown great commitment to fighting the wildlife trade. I also wonder if demand is down because the economy was hit hardest in the south particularly Guangdong
David , Illinois USA
A democracy black hole, emissions champion,dismal human rights record, pillager of oceans, overpopulated, trafficker of everything between seal penises, tiger bone crush and bear bile (all as hocus pocus medicines), .....and now championing PR aides with a PhD. My friends, China is no villain, its a model of modernity! Let's not forget the chinese are doing such a grest job saving pandas.
Nicolas Canal, Bogota, Colombia
China's CO2 emissions are expanding faster than anyone's, but according to New Scientist a third of Chinese emissions are caused by the manufacture of goods for export. If we shut down our factories and move them to China, goods are still for our consumption and profit, so they're our responsibility. It's just us outsourcing our emissions. Count our imports and we won't have hit our Kyoto target at all.
David Cairney, Macclesfield, England
If anything, we are far to apologetic. China, the US, and everyone else striving for consumer conveniences are like wingless locusts consuming everything in their path, even that which we should leave for our children. Until we are willing to be honest with ourselves, we'll always see weird little articles like this one which say a lot, but also say very little which we need to hear.
PK, San Francisco, USA
Yeah skinning and eating dogs is repulsive but then again cows are sacred animals to the hindu religions but not to most americans. I am not pretending to be a pure vegetarian but ultimately I think we should extend humane rights to all animals, wild and domestic, and to the environment as a whole....
Roger, Miami, FL USA
China has a wonderful and totaly ecological system of green houses for producing winter vegetables without any heating. The green houses are built with a thick soil wall on the North side and a "normal" green house on the South side. During the day the sun warms up the green house and at night the farmers cover the greenhouse side with insulating mats made from rice straw and the thick soil wall radiates the heat back to keep the plants from freezing during the night. With this system Chinese farmers can grow tomatoes, courgettes, peppers etc throughout the coldest winters. There are more than 100.000 hectares of these green houses in China, imagine the extra polution if they heated their greenhouses with fossil fuels.
Simon Williams, Algeria
Environmental criticism is often a matter of trying to remove the splinter from your neighbor's eye while ignoring the branch in your own. We all need to make informed choices that make minimal damage to the ecosystem. If you don't like China's pollution and human rights record, don't shop at Wal-Mart. But can we really point fingers, when the toxic fog in London used to kill people, and rivers in the US used to catch on fire? It wasn't the Chinese who drove the dodo to extinction.
Tim, St. Louis, MO
As an American currently working in Beijing, I found that this article was a breath of fresh air (no pun intended). Before coming to China my opinions of the Middle Kingdom were largely the product of "China-bashing" media reports, which gave me a lot of anxiety about my choice to move here. Not only have I found a lot of the reported "facts" to be false, I've also been offered the opportunity to read such media from a different perspective since becoming more integrated and enlightened to the culture and way of life here. Additionally, I have the opportunity to have intellectual conversations will local Beijingers about said international coverage on China. Yes, living here has afforded me first-hand accounts of how polluted and wasteful a developing country of 1.3 billion can be, but the author's alternative views, comparisons, and contrasts to my native country offers important insights to how the Chinese get a bitter taste in their mouth after reading Western media which arrogantly and endlessly display China in a negative light, despite there obvious efforts. There is a Chinese idiom that says, "It's easier to turn a small boat than a large ship," so let's give our Eastern friends some credit and stop the fruitless finger-pointing.
Collin, Beijing, China
Westerners are often more pessimistic about China's environmental policy than the nation deserves. One important and overlooked factor that shapes this policy is that many Chinese leaders are "technocrats" - until recently, political science was a dangerous field of study, so most current higher-ups studied hard sciences and engineering at university rather than political science. (Hu Jintao, for instance, has a degree in hydraulic engineering.) These technocrats see environmental issues more objectively than most western, particularly American, politicians. China has been rather open to legislation on climate change and the environment.
Emily, Minneapolis, USA
To John, England - on an equity front, wouldn't you say that developing countries who have emitted less historically are allowed to increase their CO2 emissions? Energy equals development. Without energy, countries can't increase productivity or shift from primary to secondary/tertiary industries. Developed countries, including Australia, should be taking the lead in reducing its emissions considering it took the lead in emitting them historically. Like the Montreal Protocol, there needs to be two sets of rules. Sustainability includes social aspects as well, and asking developing countries like India to reduce its emissions instead of eliminating poverty is a tough sell.
Kam, Melbourne, Australia
It is in everyone's interests to help China reduce its emmisions by transferring technology that will let China reduce the emmisions from the coal that is its primary source of power. If wind and solar can supply China's needs that would be great but we can't expect their need for power to be put on hold until sufficient renewable sources are developed and brought online. Nuclear power is expensive to build and has serious safety and long term waste disposal issues. "Clean coal" technology may not be politically correct with the hard core environmentalists but it may be the quickest, most economical and most politically acceptable way to reduce China's emmisions in the near term rather than at some nebulous date in the future.
Scott W, Port Orchard, USA
The difference between reality and the way the Chinese government wants China to be portrayed is often stark. I don't buy many the statistics coming out of China because results cannot be independently verified. Until they have some accountability they can throw up smoke and mirrors for the rest of the world while problems still brew underneath. Furthermore, I doubt many people in industrial nations would be too upset if all those manufacturers in China packed up and came back home.
I have lived in China for several years exploring the country, culture, and history. There are some parts that I truly enjoy, and the environment is not one of them. The people here will all talk about how they remember when you could fish in the rivers and swim in the ocean, which is no longer the case. The government may say whatever suits its own agenda, and they may bully other nations into following the line about China being a developing nation, but let's look at the facts. They DO produce more pollution than any other country (Nit picking over this and that does not change the overall amount), the DO lie about almost every fact that they publish (The original numbers need to be checked because the world has caught them lying about everything else, why not this?), they DO run a government and society through bribes, cheating, and outright falsehoods (Which means that they will tell the world whatever they want to hear). This is a country that has been "developing" for 50 years, and at this pace they will still be "developing" in another 50 years, when does it stop? How long before we can call a duck a duck? The vast majority of people still use coal to cook with, burn whatever rubbish they have collected in the streets, and think it's funny when I throw my rubbish in a bin instead of just dropping it wherever I happen to be. This may not be the cause of the problem, but it is another symptom of this societies view of the world they live in, and that we all share
for good or ill. The planet and our next generation will not know or care which country the toxic chemicals come from, but they will understand we did not act in time when they get sick and the world can not support life any longer.
Hanuman, Linhai, Zhejiang, China
China has simply become the BackProductionOffice for the worlds consumption. There is not a single country left to which china doesnt export or hasnt displaced the local production. So we have one single place which is being scavenged for natural resources and prodcuing everyones share of CO2. You cant blame China alone. The world shares responsibility for outsourcing pollution to China
Nelson Fernandes, USA
Coming Climate Change Impacts will not play politics... Considering the global impact of our actions and our inactions on this question... the social equality factor is in reality that many who have not contributed to the problem will in fact bear the largest negative impacts. The real opportunity is for all of us rich or poor north or south) who currently emit to do all we can to lower our emmissions of C02 to reduce the global impact. Our committment needs to be how to reduce the damage for as many not play politics with our childrens futures!
I don't see much wrong with the skinning of dogs that are farmed as food; we eat beef and many people have little against leather. If a culture's point of view is that dogs are great pets and also good casseroles, why waste their skins?
Leon, Yorks, UK
Its quite typical isn't it? Any dissent on China bashing is bashed up in turn. Developed nations' tirades would loose the wind in their sales if they actually enquired about the environmental programs in developing nations. I've heard so many ignorant Americans stating quite confidently, that developing countries have no environmental controls, while enforcement of their own Clean Air Act is hamstrung by a hobbled EPA and a former corrupt administration. As the article said, put your own house in order, and then try and lecture others.
The real problem is global overpopulation. CO2 needs to be calculated on a PER CAPITA basis. It is ridiculous to blame China for current CO2 levels in the atmosphere or environmental degradation. The Chinese government is aware of the problem. China was the first country in the world to develop a population control program. We must thank the Chinese instead of blaming them for the problems we created. Most people in China are still poor. Rich western countries are playing games with the world's environment. We must provide China with the money and technology necessary to become sustainable while doing the same ourselves. It is in our own interest. I want to thank China for highlighting the importance of the population issue.
John, Miami Beach, USA
I do agree that a molecule of CO2 is a molecule of CO2 and where it comes from is irrelevant. But what IS relevant is that it is much easier for us Westerners to do something about it. The choices we face are between Hummers and Hondas. For the Chinese, on the other hand, it is a choice of whether to supply affordable energy to its citizens (through low-cost, inefficient coal plants), or to shut down power plants and allow their citizens to starve.
Andy, Detroit, Michigan USA
The west has complained too much while overlooked its own misdeeds. China has made significant progress to protect its environment even though it is a relatively new industrialised nation. I can't say the same about the so called developed nations. Maybe it is time for the world to look at who the real culprit is.
I agree; demonizing China reflects an ignorance of the country. It's still a developing country and it seems itself that way too. The Chinese Govt will never prioritize environmental sustainability over economic welfare. The key is for the US/EU to help China grow sustainabley. go to climatesecurity.blogspot.com for more!
Gary, Washington Dc
It's about time we criticized (basically) the hand that feeds us. But when are WE going to change OUR ways? It's very convenient to sit around and point fingers at the world, and not notice the 3 fingers point back at us. We can't have it both ways. How can we demand for them to change when we don't change ourselves? It's the law of supply and demand. If there are scrupulous vendors it's because there are scrupulous buyers.
Fay, Richardson, TX, US
It's interesting that the "China Exploration & Research Society" is funded by the people who would stand gain from a perceived improvement in China's ecological standing. IE Shell, HSBC, UBS, IBM, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Panasonic, Sony, Land Rover, and others
Jo, Philadelphia, USA
It's time for the environment blame game to stop. Environmental issues are no longer regional and are not stopped by borders. Consumerism in California drives factories in China which then help pollute California. The ice caps are melting due to emissions from the entire world. Solidarity should be the theme for the 21st century. We're on this planet together - let's take care of it together.
Joel, Minnesota, USA
'China should respond to critics by providing clear answers detailing what is being done to solve real problems.' I will just like to add that China should allow the outside world to verify these answers. China with all the good intentions have environmental protection policies that are as good or even better than the developed countries. However, the implementation and execution of these policies tend to take a back seat to the more practical needs of economic development. One can agree to any policy so long as one need not be accountable or responsible for implementing them. If not, how do you account for the readiness of China to agree to all that stringent requirements and not allowing any independent party to verify the validity and effectiveness of these policies. In China, I have learnt to trust the facts and not the words.
JT, Shenzhen, China
More communications, more understandings. I don't think it makes sense to find who supports the orgnization. As a citizen of China, I strongly agree that the authority has the responsibility of making more efforts in enviromental protection, meanwhile, some illegal trades on wildlife DO reduce! in my view, national interests are always prior to international concerns, both for western and eastern world(Japan said he is not eastern contury), especially for US.
Luyang, Guangzhou, China
Some good points here. However, I notice he failed to mention the once beautiful country of Tibet - where it's original owners would live in perfect harmony with the environment... that was until the Chinese invasion, which saw 80% of it's forests cut down, nuclear waste dumped all over the place, strip mining and a huge great railway in order to make Tibetans a minority in their own country. And now glaciers are melting and the lack of run of water will inevitably condemn 1/3 of Asia who depend on this water to death - much like the Buddhist monks. Thanks China.
Lee, Northampton - England
Why does China just not make lots of wind turbines in the windy positions of the land, solar panels on business buildings and peoples house roofs especially in the sunniest spots of the country and if China does need a third solution try thinking of water turbines like power that you can create from river flows instead of using coal, gas or oil power plants that just pollute the place, stink out the place, make people sick and effect climate change very badly?
Michael, Timaru, New Zealand
Layla from london get a grip. We eat cows in the west and in some parts of the world they are sacred. Different culture different morale standing. On the subject of the rampant Chinese economy the issue of Co2 does of course need to be addresed as a matter of urgency. However this is not confined to a country that is struggling to bring its population to a level of wealth enjoyed in the west for at least a century, this is a global crisis and it is a crisis that needs real immediate solutions. It is not however the only crisis facing mankind at the moment. We are currently facing the potential threat of a collapse in fishing stocks, the collapse of the rainforest ecosystem and the massive decline in species. There is not one single place on planet earth that is not groaning under the shear pressure of human nature. I know that it may sound a little extreme and you must think im just some crusty putting the world to rights. Infact i work in an office and drive to work and iam as the rest of you reading this guilty of putting myself before our home. My opinion is that our attitude and reactions over the next tens years will decide the fate of the next few centurys and the impact on the lives of billions of people.
Jherek, Wells, Somerset
I think you make too much of them signing and ratifying Kyoto. All that was encumbant on China was "monitor and report" emissions. My understanding is that they wouldn't agree to any cap at all. As it stands there is no reason why China cannot exceed US per capita emissions by a factor of 10. In 2005 Britain produced 10.6 tonnes of CO2 per capita, China was 5.5 tonnes. No doubt things have evened up considerably since then, and it is likely that China will over take Britain in per capita emissions in the next decade. But will Britain still have to cut emissions and China still be able to increase without limit? You bet. The Chinese leadership won't sign any treaty that will put an arbitrary cap on their emissions, all they while they tell others to actually cut what they emit. Hypocrasy isn't the exclusive domain of the West. As for Mr Li Wa Foon's comments. Actually that's the real point isn't it. Rather than actually improve energy efficiency, or develop new sources of energy, we've simply packed up manufacturing, and shipped it into a jurisdiction that's exempt from all this. How is shunting CO2 emissions from Germany and Britain to China "saving the earth"? I can see why the Chinese leadership love the idea of a system that increases energy prices in the West and in Japan, but doesn't affect them, and accelerates the transfer of industrial capacity to China. What's less clear to me is why eco campaigners think that Kyoto is a good treaty, or that it's likely successors are going to have any effectiveness.
I read every comment, and it's interesting and obvious that people from developed countries dont want to change their life styles,even the emission of each citizen is much higher than that of chinese. I live in Toronto, the largest city of Canada, a lot of people here leave the office with the lights and computers on, and it's tragical that this kind of people alway like to be critical on environmental issues while they never have seen their own problems.
China's one child policy makes a big contribution to the environment and CO2 reduction. Less Chinese people means less energy consumption. When you westerners criticize China for its one child policy, do you really care about the environment? This is the time to blame India for its uncontrolled population.
Hao Luo, Xian, China
I strongly suggest that everybody should learn to know the chinese traditional culture. "????" It's means the people and the earth living well. It's run well for thounds years until rencent time. Who make the fales? we should condiseration.
China's CO2 generation is largely associated with the industry that creates the goods that we in the West demand. Western CO2 generation is largely associated with living lazy, profligate lifestyles.
The preservation of the natural environment seems to be almost an accidental byproduct of the Chinese tourism industry's massive growth. A "scenic area" is as much a business as a nature reserve and its vastness and pristine conditions selling points. Another good example are the solar powered water heaters that are popping up across rural (and urban) China. At 800 yuan (£80), they are cheap and practical way of getting a hot shower amongst other things. Their "Green" credentials are incidental but not insignificant. I have been backpacking round Yunnan and Sichuan since May 1st 09
James Coote, Nottingham, UK
Bleisch is very just on this matter. China has always been producing most of the goods for the enjoyment of westerners in this decade. The majority of factories shifted from the West to China, so as the carbon emissions and negative environmental impacts. If there was not a country like China which produces goods for the West, I daresay the outcomes would have been very different. Western media portray China as the eco-villain because it makes headlines. They have obviously disregarded the fact that the vast majority of Chinese goods are shipped overseas. I am not saying China has done its best in protecting the environment, actually much more and better effort could have been in environmental protection by China. It could have also done a better PR job. However, we must not forget China somehow still has its planned economy side. The Central Government will do everything to meet targets in the Five-Year Plan, including that of carbon reduction. Time can prove everything, let's wait and see if China is the real environmental villain.
Li Wa Foon, HONG KONG, CHINA
Well done! It is time for western people to better understand China, not only in term of environment, but also culture, politics, etc.
"leopard skins sold to foolish westerners at many tourist traps are actually just poorly dyed dog skins." .. am I the only one who think that dog skinning is sickening? Dogs are not endangered animals but as someone who has got used to having cats and dogs as pets, I think it is very cruel. Surely anyone who own a pet or work for animal welfare organisations would agree!
Having read quickly article on Chinas environmental policy it looks to be attempting more action to improve climate change by reducing emissions than some countries however it may on the other hand be a wasteful country
mr green, kendal
I read with great interest your article on China. While I do not dispute your opinion I, like others have one of my own. My brother is currently in China working. I can tell you that illeagle wildlife trade is underground or bribed away. Not diminished. Our EARTH does NOT care what percent of energy the people use. I really wish that respected scientist would focus on the problem, not the tit for tat comparisons you seemed to strive for!
James, Tampa, Florida USA
There seems to be two arguments mixed up here. If the environment was the only issue, then a molecule of CO2 is a molecule of CO2 - where it comes from is irrelevant. China would be expected to REDUCE emissions just like anyone else. If some sort of global equality agenda is at work then this justifies people in the US/England having to cut emissions whilst China continues to INCREASE, wiping out any gains we make and more. CO2 continues to rise, but we have transferred wealth to a (originally) poorer country. 'Environmentalists' need to clarify their thinking - do they want to prevent 'global warming' or are they really afer some sort of global equality agenda? (By the way, who funds 'China Exploration & Research Society'?)