The environment is now at the heart of the transformation of Chinese capitalism. China is both the primary global emitter of greenhouse gases, but will also become the largest laboratory for and investor in green energy. This initial assessment of the environmental situation in China thus analyses both the causes of this crisis and the environmental policies subsequently implemented in order to understand a precarious situation that will affect the future of the Earth.
Drawing on a variety of sources in Chinese and English and multiple field studies in Chinese companies and with those responsible for China's industrial policy, the author offers a general assessment of the environmental crisis and its human and economic costs in all areas (air, water, global warming, soil pollution, etc.). It traces the recent awareness, by the Chinese authorities, of the severity of the crisis while noting the difficulty of measuring the effects of new policies as the structural causes of environmental degradation (demography, urbanization, dependence on fossil energy, economic growth strategy) are unlikely to evolve favorably for decades.
Jean-François Huchet teaches Chinese and Asian economy at INALCO.