Auch der Economist macht sich nun Sorgen um die Umweltzerstörung in China und macht daraus sogar einen Teil der Titelgeschichte: Certainly, awareness of China's environmental problems is rising among policymakers at the highest level—reflected in a new package of right-sounding initiatives like a “green GDP” indicator to account for environmental costs. So is the pressure, both internal and international, to fix them. But while all developing economies face this issue, there are historical, political and institutional reasons why it will be a long and complicated process in China. There is some cause for optimism, not least an influx of foreign technology and capital. But progress on pollution is unlikely to be as rapid or uniform as the government and environmentalists desire. Nor should it necessarily be. China's need to lift so many people out of poverty (the country's average annual income per head has only just breached $1,000), holds the edge over long-term considerations like sustainable development. The priorities of environmental activists, both foreign and Chinese, almost never reflect this. Greenpeace lobbies for China to invest in wind farms, an unrealistic answer to the country's power needs, while environmentalists from rich countries naively tell aspiring Chinese to eschew their new cars and air-conditioners.


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