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China and the Path to Environmental Sustainability
(Released August 2007)

  by Ethan Goffman  


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  1. Building a sustainable business in China's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

    J. Yu and J. N. B. Bell.

    Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, Vol. 9, No. 1, Mar 2007, pp. 19-43.

    Given the SMEs a heterogeneous group in the Chinese society due to their inherent characteristics, this paper takes a preliminary step to look into the complicated and dynamic environment for engaging China's SMEs in corporate sustainability. It aims to provide insight into how China's SMEs perceive and practice sustainability, and to explore key drivers and barriers behind their environmental and social engagement Findings reveal an apparent contradiction in the current status of China's SMEs towards sustainability: a high level of concern vs. a low level of engagement. The most important motivator appears to be improving corporate image, followed by governmental legislation. While barriers hindering SMEs' sustainable engagement vary, predominant problems involve a lack of awareness and perception, insufficient financial resources and insufficient or ill-suited external support. Accordingly, the paper highlights three areas for China's SMEs' further improvements: education, communication and cooperation.

  2. Carbon Taxation Policy in China: How to Protect Energy- and Trade-Intensive Sectors?

    Qiao-Mei Liang, Ying Fan and Yi-Ming Wei.

    Journal of Policy Modeling, Vol. 29, No. 2, March-April 2007, pp. 311-333.

    China's economy is now growing fast; as is the increase in requirements of energy and CO2 emission. The coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol confronts China with a realistic and tough challenge. The disregard of the environment is one of the major causes of the current severe status of China's pollution. Carbon tax could be an ideal economic tool to deal with the post-Kyoto pressure that China is faced with. However, the foundation and implementation of a carbon tax policy would be complex. One of the primary negative effects of carbon tax would be its potential strike on the international competitiveness of energy-intensive sectors. This study established a computable general equilibrium model simulating a carbon tax policy in China, and compared the macroeconomic effects of different carbon tax schemes as well as their impact on the energy- and trade-intensive sectors. The results show that the negative impact of carbon tax on the economy, and on the energy- and trade-intensive sectors, could be alleviated through properly relieving or subsidizing production sectors. One approach of taxing is to combine the tax exemption for energy- and trade-intensive sectors with the reimbursement of tax revenue to the un-exempted sectors.

  3. Change of Ecological Footprint and Analysis of Ecological Sustainability--Taking Zhangjiakou City as an Example

    L. Wang, Y. Liu and T. Chen.

    Chinese Geographical Science, Vol. 17, No. 1, Mar 2007, pp. 40-46.

    This paper researches the ecological sustainability of Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China, using the ecological footprint model. According to the study we find that Zhangjiakou City was in the situation of ecological deficit from 1990 to 2000 and the deficit had the enlarging tendency. In 1990 the per capita ecological footprint was 0.964 and the per capita ecological capacity was 0.518, thus it can be calculated that the per capita ecological deficit was -0.446. However in 2000, the per capita ecological footprint increased to 1.068, at the same time the per capita ecological capacity decreased to 0.471, then the per capita ecological deficit in 2000 was -0.597. Furthermore, this paper studies the ecological sustainability of the city from the changes of the ecological footprint of per 10,000 yuan GDP and the productivity of ecological system. Finally the authors point out the shortage of the model and the way to improve it.

  4. China's Environment: Problems and Policies

    Alasdair MacBean.

    World Economy, Vol. 30, No. 2, February 2007, pp. 292-307.

    Historically, rapid growth has produced environmental destruction. China is no exception. Because of its huge and growing population, 20 years of over nine per cent per annum growth, a history of neglect and adverse geography, China faces crises. Floods devastate in the south while droughts afflict the north. One in three of China's rural people lacks safe drinking water. China suffers air pollution, deforestation, loss of grasslands, and species, erosion, encroaching desert, acid rain, dust storms that engulf cities such as Beijing and can carry far abroad. It has 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Environmental degradation grows and China's development is threatened by it. Water shortages have hit industries and factories have been shut by energy crises. The costs of cleaning up the environment will grow still greater if prompt and effective action is not taken. China's government recognises these problems and developed laws and institutions to protect the environment, but at grassroots level they fail to be implemented because local governments value short-term gains in growth and jobs over a better environment. The international community can help, but only China can deal with the problems.

  5. Industrial sustainability in China: Practice and prospects for eco-industrial development

    Yiping Fang, R. P. Cote and R. Qin.

    Journal of environmental management, Vol. 83, No. 3, May 2007, pp. 315-328.

    China is a large densely populated country undergoing rapid industrialization and is becoming one of the world's biggest consumers of natural resources. This circumstance provides a sharp contrast with other countries. As China is so significant in the global economy, studies of its eco-industrial development are very important. In this study we examined the state of eco-industrial development in China and have drawn conclusions from this analysis about some of the future prospects for sustainable development. In the analysis, we investigated the application of industrial ecology concepts by reference to several case studies. We have therefore described the current environmental situation in China, and have provided an overview of eco-industrial development and its implementation. Constraints to industrial sustainability in China have also been examined. We consider that eco-industrial development in China is in its infancy, and that closed loops involving chains and industrial symbiotic webs are the technological key and core of successful initiatives in the application of industrial ecology. In the case studies, we found that each system has different characteristics and management concerns. Our major conclusion is that even though China's Agenda 21 highlights the principles and sets the directions for eco-industrial development, these have not yet become essential ingredients in the country's industrial policy and practice for implementing Agenda 21.; All rights reserved, Elsevier

  6. Beijing environmental sustainable development from 1983 to 2003

    W. Zhou, R. Wang and K. Zhang.

    International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, Vol. 13, No. 3, Jun 2006, pp. 199-210.

    Ever since the Earth Summit was launched at Rio de Janeiro, research has been done on the problems of developing indices for the health of the environment and for its sustainable development. However, this research has concentrated more on national and regional levels than on local levels, more on spatial comparisons than on time series analysis, more on short-term than on long-time analysis, more on qualitative than on quantitative analysis. In contrast, therefore, this paper presents an indicator system procedure for measuring Beijing (the capital of China) environmental sustainability based on the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) philosophy, evaluates the trend of Beijing environmental sustainability index (BESI) quantitatively for 21 years, from 1983 to 2003, and suggests three great opportunities in the near future that are expected to provide some dependable information to policy makers. The results suggest that Beijing is still far from environmental sustainable development. The total trend was better in the 1980s than in the 1990s, and has improved slightly since 2000.

  7. China's Limits to Growth? The Difference between Absolute, Relative and Precautionary Limits

    Peter Ho and Eduard B. Vermeer.

    Development and Change, Vol. 37, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 255-271.

  8. Chinese Education Structure for Sustainable Development: A Multiyear Lags Education-Economy Extended Input-Output Model with Asset

    Fu Xue and Xikang Chen.

    International Journal of Applied Economics and Econometrics, Vol. 14, No. 1, January-March 2006, pp. 61-78.

    Education plays a very important role in a country's sustainable development. Because the lagged time of human capital is even longer and more significant than that of physical capital, we develop a multiyear lag Education-Economy Extended Input-Output (I-O) Model with Asset and address the reasonable education structure in favor of sustainable development. The model reflects the multi-year lags both for the human capital as well as physical capital, adopts modifications-by-step method to deal with various nonlinear structure coefficients in the I-O model, utilizes a generalized version of dynamic inverse to calculate education scale and the requirement of human capital and endogenous education expenditure. We compile a 2000 Economy-Education Extended I-O Model with Asset for China and make the education program of China from 2005 to 2020. We find that a shortage in senior human capital is a serious problem in Chinese economic development.

  9. Trajectories for Greening in China: Theory and Practice

    Peter Ho.

    Development and Change, Vol. 37, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 3-28.

    This edited volume argues that China's development poses the greatest ever environmental challenge for the modern world in terms of speed, size and scarcity. The volume is organized around the greening of the Chinese state and society: can the inclusion of sustainable development principles into governance, management and daily practices by social actors lead to sustainable development per se? This introduction sketches the different scholarly camps around greening and sustainable development, ranging from sceptical to radical environmentalism. The contributions demonstrate that China is showing clear signs of greening as new institutions and regulations are created, environmental awareness increases and green technologies are implemented. However, the question remains whether this is sufficient to effectuate long-term sustainable development. The key factors here are the sheer speed of China's economic growth, the size of its population, and the relative scarcity of its natural and mineral resources. Chinese development presents compelling reasons for rethinking the viability of greening. It is necessary to move beyond both alarmist visions of an environmental doomsday, and optimistic notions that incremental changes in technology, institutions and lifestyles are sufficient for sustainability. It might be more fruitful--and not only for China--to consider 'precautionary' rather than "absolute" limits to growth.

  10. Urbanization and the metropolitan environment: lessons from New York and Shanghai

    William D. Solecki and Robin M. Leichenko.

    Environment, Vol. 48, No. 4, Apr 2006, pp. 8-23.