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China and the Climate Change Crisis

Prof.Minqi Li: The government has done little more than give lip service to environmental issues (Pt.8)

WASHINGTON - In an interview with Prof. Minqi Li, The Real News Network's Paul Jay discusses China's contribution to the global climate change crisis.

In recent years China's greenhouse gas emissions have surpassed those of the United States, granting them the title of the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. China's pollution is worsened further by its 70% reliance on coal to produce its energy, and the country's high demand for oil. Prof. Li seeks to shed some light on China's seemingly reckless disregard for the climate change crisis by pointing out that, while the climate change crisis has become critical, China has no choice but to balance the environment with its own economic development.

In a recent study it was found that 1/3 of China's gas emissions are related to its export industry and the finished products it sends to Western countries, such as the United States. At present, China relies very heavily on industries such as these to strengthen their economy in efforts to offset some of the negative effects of rising inequality. The study shows that although the United States may not be the largest direct source of greenhouse gas emissions anymore, they are not completely without fault. Not only do they support an industry that emits 1/3 of China's greenhouse gasses but, as Paul Jay suggests, the United States really has not done much to rectify the situation in their own country. As a result, China and the United States are using each other to avoid finding a solution, with the United States hiding in the shadow of China's emissions, and China claiming that if the United States can't find a solution then they can't either.

Prof. Minqi Li wraps up the discussion by warning that the climate change crisis is "not just about China's interests [but] the interests of entire humanity" and that as long as countries are pursuing their personal capitalist goals, the energy and climate crisis will remain.


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