Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Since the development of a proposed contraction and convergence formula in the early 90's, things have changed. In the intervening 20 years, the relatively backward nation of China has moved from the category of a developing country to the second largest GDP on the globe with an economic system that's the biggest expression of crony capitalism in history. China has done this with a monolithic governmental banking system that operates purely in the interests of expanding Gross Domestic Product with export trade, as Japan did in the post WWII economy, except without the structure of the Marshall Plan. What this has done in the globalized economy is create a massive leveraging of Chinese economic influence into a global powerhouse, albeit with internal instability, pollution and toxic emissions that threaten to destroy the local environment.

The extreme ramp-up of energy development using coal to manufacture the world's solar panels and the myriad products of trade using an undervalued yuan to expand exports has moved China into first world status. It has also made up for tremendous amounts of carbon emissions; it has far overshadowed all other countries in its growing emissions and apparently intends to maintain this status quo. Thus, China now shares the obligations of the United States and Europe in the emissions reductions scenario.

China's responsibility for climate change is discussed in a book by Paul Harris. It describes China's contribution to global warming and analyzes its policy responses. Contributors critically examine China's practical and ethical responsibilities to climate change from a variety of perspectives. They explore policies that could mitigate China's environmental impact while promoting its own interests and meeting the international community's expectations. Mr. Harris has also explored this issue at a climate change conference at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, in June of 2009.

The conference paper outlines a new paradigm of sustainable cooperation with other countries around the globe in order to bring emissions under control.The dimensions of Chinese carbon governance will also need to work coherently together across scales if contraction and convergence towards a national cap is to be implemented properly and cohesively, without further exacerbating problems around the distribution of harms and benefits, particularly to poorer regions. China's current methodology of moving resources and people across its vast countryside reflects the old World Bank paradigm of development at all costs: physical, ecological and social. China's Guizhou province will move two million people out of its mountains and barren terrains before 2020, Guizhou Deputy Gov. Chen Yiqin said this month, as Xinhua reported. The province plans to move 100,000 people in 2012, and the plan is key to the Guizhou's supposed work against poverty. But the government is relocating these massive populations of Chinese without consideration of the social, economic and ecological impacts of these strategies, which are considerable yet not "on the books".

Such is the error of creating huge scenarios based upon an outmoded measure like GDP. It fosters destructive behaviors that are justified by accounting machinations. The same bookkeeping tricks that brought the global financial system to its knees. The time has come to create a different set of values that measure the integrity of the processes, the value of its citizens and resources of the land, such that the world can restore its natural properties and avert the worst of the climate change impacts, which have already begun.

It is imperative that China take its place at the table with the largest players and implement its contraction on par with the US and Europe, and abandon its headlong emissions growth fueled by coal sources. It has achieved the global position its government has sought, and along with that comes the responsibilities of protecting the planetary systems and resources that give sustenance to life.