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China's Environmental Governance in Global Context

Author: Source: Date:2017-09-07
Jiahua Pan, Chinese environmental ecologist, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, joined the Public Lecture Series on September 7th, 2017. His speech centered around the Paris Agreement and sustainable development in China.

Main points:
-In the past negotiations, analyses and researches on climate change and sustainable development, we propose a new international responsibility regime which will give you a fresh understanding of the international landscapes.
-According the prediction from UN in 2016, Chinese population will reach to 1 billion by the end of the century projected on a birth rate of 1.6-1.8%, and to no more than 0.6 billion if based on a birth rate of 1.048%. The benefits of population have been in decline.
-India, in comparison, will reach to a population more than 1.7 billion by 2050. Its process of industrialization has just taken shape while the process of urbanization accelerating.
-In the case of US, although its population grows at a limited pace, it now has a population of 0.32 billion which will grow to 0.45 by the end of the century. The purchasing power per person in US is 20 times of that in Africa, and 5 times of that in China. We now see where lies the nexus of the consumption and demand of resources in the future.
-Whether the demand in one place can be turned into a reality from a potential depends on the place’s economic development. In the 50s and 60s, US share of world economy was close to 40% while EU took up 33%. China’s share of world economy now approximates 15% given the exchange rate between USD and RMB. If we look at purchasing power parity, we will have a number leveling off that of the US. That’s also why some people claim that our economy has outpaced the US and became the largest economy in the world. That is not the whole story.
-We make quite an effort establishing new international institutions such as strengthening the BRICS mechanism and investing in AIIB because we don’t have a voice in the existing international system. The new ones serve our international strategy.
-Why are many developed countries less concerned about sustainable development? Obviously, their economies have reached to saturation, which means that there won’t be much structural shifts and that they will see a continual decline in demand.
-The financial theories refuse to admit that there are two bottom lines –one in development and the other in ecology. They however believe that growth will sustain as long as there are investments. In fact, there is a ceiling to growth. We are in a system in which the whole will suffer from functional loss if one part is impaired.
-If we can add the ecological aspects into our economic theory to build up and strengthen a universally applicable economic framework with Chinese characteristics, it will be a great asset to the world’s civilization.
-The key lies in the transition of our thoughts and actions. We will be able to tackle the problem of pollution and sustainable development if we can have such transition in our mindset.
-Domestically, as we have incorporated ecological civilization into our development priorities, there are prospects that we can integrate the idea of environmental protection and ecological efficiency in economics, politics and every aspect of social activities. In the past we had different campaigns on environmental protection but once the campaign is over, everything would get back to how it was. Now that we have some supervision, the result is quite different.