The Chinese are striving to think differently about the economy and the environment, said Sir Crispin Tickell at a talk given in February 2007 as part of the China Seminar Series at the Saïd Business School. 2 March 2007 The Chinese are striving to think differently about the economy and the environment, said Sir Crispin Tickell at a talk given in February 2007 at the Saïd Business School as part of the China Seminar Series.
In his talk, Sir Crispin highlighted some of the specific ways in which the Chinese leadership are trying to think differently about the environment, from searching for a better methodology for measuring economic progress than that represented by the classic – and highly misleading “Gross Domestic Product / Gross National Product” mechanism; to adopting a “new economic growth mode” within the overriding objective of achieving an all-round harmonious or “xiaokang” society.
Already the idea of “green clean growth” or “green GDP” is being tested in a number of Chinese provinces, Sir Crispin said. This means bringing in the externalities or hidden costs of change, and giving priority to human welfare and well-being rather than mere productivity.
Sir Crispin also drew attention to the Chinese government’s White Paper entitled Environmental Protection in China 1996-2005, which contains a detailed account of relevant legislation, the prevention and control of industrial pollution, measures to cope with water problems, re-afforestation and conservation, and Chinese participation in international bodies and commitments.
“As a relative latecomer to the industrial world, China has the opportunity to leapfrog over the mistakes of others,” Sir Crispin said. “It is also recovering its self-confidence after its century of troubles, and the balance of power in the world is changing as a result. Within China the environmental cost may be high, even unworkable. But the government seems well aware of the risks and hazards, and knows better than its critics that it has to do a lot more to look after the only China, indeed the only Earth, there is. They may turn out to be pioneers in doing so.”
Sir Crispin Tickell is Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization and a founder member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.