Thomas Friendman’s latest op-ed in The New York Times argues that the bogus debate about the science of climate change does not exist in China:
â€œThere is really no debate about climate change in China,â€ said Peggy Liu, chairwoman of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy, a nonprofit group working to accelerate the greening of China. â€œChinaâ€™s leaders are mostly engineers and scientists, so they donâ€™t waste time questioning scientific data.â€ The push for green in China, she added, â€œis a practical discussion on health and wealth. There is no need to emphasize future consequences when people already see, eat and breathe pollution every day.â€
And because runaway pollution in China means wasted lives, air, water, ecosystems and money â€” and wasted money means fewer jobs and more political instability â€” Chinaâ€™s leaders would never go a year (like we will) without energy legislation mandating new ways to do more with less. Itâ€™s a three-for-one shot for them. By becoming more energy efficient per unit of G.D.P., China saves money, takes the lead in the next great global industry and earns credit with the world for mitigating climate change.
I cannot personally comment on whether this view is accurate or not, but it is definitely interesting. China’s model of government certainly involves certain advantages – such as the ability to take action quickly and decisively once a decision is made at the top. Of course, it involves the many limitations associated with authoritarianism as well.
Hopefully, China and other countries will finally come to accept how threatening climate change is, in the months and years immediately ahead of us. Then, perhaps we can finally begin to make the transition to zero-carbon energy on a sufficient scale to avoid dangerous and ultimately catastrophic climate change.