Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What China needs government participation...sweet government participation

I understand that this is difficult for China because they are a huge country, frankly it is expected that they have more emissions that the US...they've got over 3 times more people, they are still developing (this period is the industrial revolution for China in my opinion). If they ever want to compete on a world scale now is the time for them to step up in terms of productivity.
They must strongly believe that somehow, environmental restrictions will hinder their growth...but what they really need to know is that now is the time to start to control emissions and their governments need to create ways by which they can do so without killing their economy. It is important for them to know that they too, can create "green collar jobs" (Hillary Clinton, 2008 presidential campaign ).
The startling fact that they build 1 coal powered plant a week (from reading, China's coal future) gives a scale of their problems...They need the electric power (essentially to make their lives better), but are doing a great deal of harm as a result.
Maybe I'm uninformed but I hear about all these issues with Chinese production (in general) and their lack of regulations but I don't hear anything about their government's efforts to improve things. If possible, they should also share their measures with one of the many international organizations that are tackling climate change so the world knows their efforts, and countries can exchange ideas, etc. (Actually, the US needs to get in on that too if they aren't already).
Global warming and safety are not things that can be left for companies to tackle on their own...I say it's time for some government participation!

1 comment:

bhansen said...

I would like to add my two cents to this post – I’m actually about to leave for China tomorrow for a 2 week trip via a global business class through the McCombs Business School. For the first part of this semester, our class has been analyzing China (government, business, environment, etc). The previous post does point out some of the drastic environmental issues that China faces – horrendous air pollution, contaminated water supply, water shortages (some rivers don’t even reach the cost anymore). Many of these issues are occurring (as the poster suggests) because China is undergoing an industrial revolution. However, they are industrializing on a pace that is 2-3x as fast as the US experienced. Thus, there are quite a few ‘growing pains’ as this transition occurs. It’s probably unreasonable to expect the Chinese government to completely leapfrog technologies (coal plants) that are a key part of this industrialization. If the government were to push for a larger part of their energy portfolio to come from cleaner/greener energy, development would likely slow. However, I’m not suggesting that some cleaner technologies not be employed.

This is important as one of the main interests of the Chinese communist government is social stability. Their population is 1.3 billion and their army is only 1M+ strong. Thus, if a social uprising were to occur, there is no reasonable way the government could suppress it. One of the keys to social stability is continued rapid economic growth. The Chinese economy is growing between 9-12% per year – this growth has allowed previously unheard of prosperity. This prosperity is a key to maintaining social stability. Thus, the Chinese government is likely wary to take actions that could slow economic growth. HOWEVER, the Chinese government must realize that the state of the environment will also be key for continued growth. Natural resources will become increasingly important as the Chinese economic engine continues to need fuel. Based on this, the Chinese government is in a precarious situation of trying to balance growth with maintaining their environment. It’s going to be fascinating to experience this firsthand over the next two weeks.