China’s rapid economic growth has come with obvious and enormous environmental costs. But the Asian superpower is also rapidly adjusting to the realities of climate change.
Although political leaders in China often disagree about the tradeoff between long-term economic growth and emissions caps, the international community would like to see more concessions from China.
With multimedia content from the China Green project at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations, Worldfocus takes a deeper look at both sides of the debate surrounding China’s economic explosion.
China’s economy hinges on coal for power, steel and cement. But, as is becoming increasingly apparent, it comes at a heavy price for the country’s environment and health.
In Dark Clouds, photographer Ian Teh explored some of China’s most industrialized cities — a glimpse of the Dongbei rustbelt that is rarely seen:
But China is also a leader in green technology. Jimmy Wang and Lin Yang visited Shandong province, where they discovered a new phenomenon that is radically changing the automobile landscape in second and third tier Chinese cities: small, 4-seat electric cars that cost around $2000 and can be charged in a normal household outlets. The vehicles emit zero greenhouse gases.
Nicknamed shanzhai (knockoff brand), they have become so popular in cities like Liaocheng that the government is debating the laws, licensing and regulations for manufacturers and passengers. Cheap shanzhai are replacing electric bicycles as the preferred mode of transport in small cities throughout eastern China.
In 2008, China’s State Council Information Office published China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change, which explains China’s active participation in global efforts to address climate change.
The plan adheres to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol — and advocates a constructive Chinese role in international cooperation on this issue.
Also, in a project with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations has pioneered the Initiative for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate.
In a report from January 2009, the initiative tackles the global climate crisis and the critical roles that both the U.S. and China must play.
Watch the promotional video that aims to catalyze U.S.-China cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
– Ben Piven