Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

China today: Culprit, victim or last best hope for a global ecological civilization?

Date:
June 11, 2014
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
China, from 2015 the world's biggest economy, is its worst polluter already. At the same time, it is the largest victim of environmental change, and the leading country in cleaning-up the environmental mess - the government has taken bold steps towards improvement. Could the largest polluter become the world's last best hope for establishing a global ecological civilization?

Air pollution is taking a toll on Chinese mega cities like Beijing.
Credit: Joachim H. Spangenberg; CC-BY 4.0

China, from 2015 the world's biggest economy, is its worst polluter already now. It has not yet, but will be most probably climbing the top position also with regards the aggregate contribution to climate change (historical emission residues included), called the climate debt. At the same time, it is the largest victim of environmental change, and the leading country in cleaning-up the environmental mess -- the government has taken bold steps towards improvement. Could the largest polluter become the world's last best hope for establishing a global ecological civilisation?

Related Articles


Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) seeks the answer to this question, analysing the ranking of China and other main agents regarding fossil fuel production, trade and consumption, climate and environmental policies, and the resulting climate debt of countries. In a recent paper published in the open access journal BioRisk he finally suggests 3 fields for action which would permit China to start reducing not only its climate footprint bit even the accumulated climate debt within the next decade.

The anthropocene is the age where human influences are determining the development of the planet's ecosystems and thus the bio-physical basis of future human civilisations. As the world's largest economy China is the world's largest consumer of all kinds of resources and is also the worst polluter, with per capita greenhouse gas emissions surpassing those of EU citizens.

However, the country is not only a culprit in this bleak situation. China is also the world's largest victim of environmental change, including air and soil pollution, water and land scarcity, biodiversity loss and climate change.

"Not only slowing down the increase but reducing emissions should be a top priority for China, and it is: the government has taken some bold steps," comments Dr. Spangenberg.

China is currently the world's largest investor in renewable energies, has the largest afforestation program, and leads the world in energy efficiency improvements. As the largest polluter it has extraordinary opportunities to improve the global state of the environment and is perhaps the world's best hope for establishing a global ecological civilisation.

However, despite the magnitude of efforts they are not yet sufficient. "We suggest three additional steps which could help China to begin reducing its climate debt within a couple of decades, define a long term perspective for policy planning and adjust its growth model to the challenges of the anthropocene," explains Dr. Spangenberg.

The author suggests a revised Methane strategy as a short term measure towards reducing China's climate debt. Another measure outlined is capping the consumption of fossil fuels to limit greenhouse gas emission. And last but not the least the study suggests a new growth model for the Chinese economy where de-growth will happen by design in a socially and environmentally benign way, rather than by environmentally triggered disaster.

"Any country aspiring a leadership role in 21st century should be aware that the majority of humankind will be negatively affected by climate change. A country that is causing havoc on their lands and people will lose the legitimacy of any claim for leadership, regardless of its economic or military strength. Thus for social, economic, environmental and geopolitical reasons, a rapid transition towards a sustainable economy, making use of all available means, is an urgent necessity, for Europe, the USA and not least for China," summarizes Dr. Spangenberg about the urgency of effective measures.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joachim Spangenberg. China in the anthropocene: Culprit, victim or last best hope for a global ecological civilisation? BioRisk, 2014; 9: 1 DOI: 10.3897/biorisk.9.6105

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "China today: Culprit, victim or last best hope for a global ecological civilization?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102255.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2014, June 11). China today: Culprit, victim or last best hope for a global ecological civilization?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102255.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "China today: Culprit, victim or last best hope for a global ecological civilization?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102255.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) This is the latest development in an antitrust investigation accusing Google of unfairly prioritizing own products and services in search results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins