Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“China is run by scientists, and the United States is run by lawyers”

Most of China’s leadership comes from a science or engineering background, and for that reason, Dale Wen believes they are more willing to listen to the technical experts on climate change.  Ms. Wen, herself from China, believes this a crucial different between China and the U.S., where the leaders are more likely to have trained in law than science.  Ms. Wen joined the panel of the Third World Network to talk a bit more about China’s position on climate change.
Ms. Wen’s work has been to document the progress China has made in terms of sustainability and to correct some of the misinformation.  By almost any measure, China as devoted more resources into renewable energy than the United States, three times that of the United States when measured in terms of GDP. Yet, China’s support for renewables has also been challenged under the World Trade Organization rules.
China has also suffered from severe droughts and floods, and food security is a major issue.  They are spending 4 trillion yen on rural waterworks and irrigation. They understand that they have to do even more, but they feel undermined by the international organizations. Perhaps most importantly, they do not see the United States taking any leadership role. Ms. Wen says the average Chinese citizen is beginning to think that “China should do what the West does, not what the West says.”
Ms. Wen has written a chapter in the “What Next (vol. 3): Climate Development and Equity” which can be found at www.whatnext.org. Her chapter is entitled “China and Climate Change – Spin, Facts and Realpolitik.” Here she outlines many of the achievements of China, including the following: China set up a comprehensive National Climate Action Program in 2007; China’s vehicle fuel efficiency standards are higher than the United States; and, China’s investment in clean energy nearly doubles the United states at $34.6 billion. 

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