中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

china and the world discuss the environment

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“The rich consume and the poor suffer the pollution”

Pan Yue

Zhou Jigang

Readinch

Pan Yue, deputy director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration, sparked debate with his recent essay On Socialist Ecological Civilisation. Here, he tells Zhou Jigang about the global inequalities that threaten China's environment.

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Zhou Jigang: We all know the global environmental crisis is worsening. What is the cause of this change?

Pan Yue: The fundamental cause is the capitalist system. The environmental crisis has become a new means of transferring the economic crisis.

ZJ: You met with representatives of the German Green Party in April and discussed, among other things, ecological socialism and sustainable development. What is the purpose of studying eco-socialism?

PY: Actually, the Green Party does not represent eco-socialism.

I study eco-socialism, but that is not to say I am in full support of it. It is too idealistic and lacks ways of solving actual problems, particularly for developing countries. However, it does provide political reference for China’s scientific view of development, and gives socialist ideology room to expand. More importantly, it gives a theoretical basis for the establishment of fair international rules.

ZJ: How did eco-socialism come into being. What does it consist of?

PY: The green movement arose out of a re-evaluation of western industrial civilisation. Although the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution were all contributing factors to the birth of western industrial civilisation, the root cause was colonialism, which permitted the large-scale relocation of developed countries’ economic and social contradictions. To ensure this relocation could proceed smoothly, capitalism created a set of international rules to protect its own interests, and environmental issues are a case in point. Developed countries account for 15% of the world’s population, yet use over 85% of its resources. They raise their own environmental standards and transfer resource-intensive and polluting industries to developing nations; they establish a series of green barriers and bear as little environmental responsibility as is possible. In the end, the green movement found that any problem can be relocated, except pollution, because we all live on the same planet.

Green activists believe that although capitalism and socialism are political opposites, they are identical in the way in which they industrialise and are both products of Western industrial economics. Some of them believe that the intrinsic aims of socialism are more suited to an ecological society. In comparison with capitalism – and excluding productive forces – socialism is fairer, puts more emphasis on morality and honesty, and is more able to provide people with fully-rounded development. In particular, green activists and socialists are able to agree on balancing economic growth and the environment, equality of distribution and grassroots democracy.

After the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, new Marxist thinkers found that ecological issues presented a heaven-sent opportunity to expose the capitalist system and unite socialists. They sought out ecological viewpoints in the works of Marx and Engels, in statements such as: “naturalism is humanism, and humanism is socialism;” “the relationship between man and nature is that between man and man, just as the relationship between man and man is that between man and nature;” and “our world faces two revolutions – reconciliation between man and nature, and between men themselves.” They laid the blame for the global environmental crisis at the feet of the capitalist system, and proposed using Marxist dialectics to repudiate a purely economic rationality.

In this way, environmental activists and socialists started to unite, with many former Communist Party members and leftists participating. Politically, this union became known as the “red-green alliance”, ideologically as eco-socialism.

ZJ: China, a socialist country, apart from facing the environmental colonialism of developed capitalist nations, is also seeing its own rapid economic development exacerbate the environmental crisis. How should China’s current environmental crisis be viewed?

PY: “Sustainable development” is commonly defined as economic growth, environmental protection and social justice. “Social justice” is a core concept of “sustainable development” and also a core aim of socialism. So, in theory, socialism is more suited to the realisation of sustainable development than capitalism. But China's environmental crisis has arisen, basically, because our mode of economic modernisation has been copied from western, developed nations.  

In 20 years, China has achieved economic results that took a century to attain in the west. But we have also concentrated a century’s worth of environmental issues into those 20 years. While becoming the world leader in GDP growth and foreign investment, we have also become the world’s number one consumer of coal, oil and steel – and the largest producer of CO2 and chemical oxygen demand (COD) emissions.

With the rise of globalisation, developed countries have transferred their industry to developing nations as a form of environmental colonialism. In China, pollution has been moved from east to west and from the city to the rural areas. The rich consume and the poor suffer the pollution. The economic and environmental inequalities caused by a flawed understanding of growth and political achievement, held by some officials, have gone against the basic aims of socialism and abandoned the achievements of Chinese socialism.

As a socialist country, China should unite with other developing countries to oppose an international economic order which causes environmental inequality. Domestically, it should establish systems to prevent unbalanced development from causing environmental risks. From this we can see the wisdom and correctness of the political ideals put forward by the Communist Party Central Committee: the scientific view of development and the construction of a harmonious, resource-conserving and environmentally-friendly society – and how urgent and necessary it is to promote an entirely new type of industrialisation.

ZJ: You once said that an ecological civilisation is the fourth stage of human civilisation, and an advance on the previous stage of industrial civilisation. What problems and strengths does China face in achieving this stage?

PY: Western countries are currently replacing traditional industrial civilisation with eco-industrial civilisation. This involves the three main ideals of sustainable development (environmental protection, preservation of resources and ecological balance), some aspects of Protestant ethics and the main points of eco-socialism, along with new production and lifestyle concepts such as circular economies, new energy sources and green consumption.

China’s circumstances, in particular the imbalance between its population, resources and environment, mean that traditional western industrial civilisation is not an option. China is a socialist country and cannot engage in environmental colonialism, nor act as a hegemony, so it must move towards a new type of civilisation. Ideas such as the scientific view of development and building a harmonious, resource-saving and environmentally-friendly society, as put forward by the Central Committee in recent years, have laid the foundation for doing so.

A significant number of people see a scientific view of development as simply a change in the mode of economic growth, even believing that establishing a resource-saving and environmentally-friendly society is merely a matter of technology. But that is only one aspect. The scientific view of development seeks a comprehensive and sustainable change of politics, economics, society, culture and theory – a transformation of civilisation. And so, the period between now and 2020 will be crucial in determining whether China can complete this transformation from traditional to eco-industrial civilisation.

China faces some difficulties in achieving this. Firstly, there is a tension between our population, resources and environment. Secondly, in today’s world, each country vies for energy, resources and the environment. We cannot export our pollution as developed countries can. We must resolutely work towards to a new style of industrialisation, whatever the price. Japan is a good example of this.

Our strengths lie in the rich historical, cultural and theoretical resources we can carry forward. We are in east Asia, we can learn from the experience of combining Confucianism with industrial civilisation, and also draw upon the successful combination of European socialism with western civilisation. Our socialist political theory contains within it the core concept of eco-industrial civilisation – social justice. We are already working tirelessly to make the construction of a socialist environmental culture and ecological civilisation our duty and mission.


Pan Yue is deputy director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Part of a new generation of outspoken Chinese senior officials, Pan has given rise to a tide of environmental debate, attracting enormous attention and controversy. On Socialist Environmentalism was published in China Economic Times on September 26, 2006.

Zhou Jigang, formerly of Economics magazine and Hong Kong’s Phoenix Weekly, has focuses on in-depth reporting about macroeconomics and current affairs. His investigations into radioactive pollution in Baotou and China’s underground industries both caused great controversy in China.

Also by Pan Yue on chinadialogue: The environment needs public participation

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生态补偿

"富裕人群消费、贫困人群来承受生产的污染",就目前而言,这种状况肯定是无法改变的。但如果有生态补偿政策,将会大大有助于社会各方的利益协调。这种生态补偿在国内和国际应该实施。仅仅要支付购买生态的钱,还要付恢复生态的钱。

Ecological compensation

“The rich consume and the poor suffer the pollution”, currently there is no way to sort out this situation. But an ecological compensation policy, if it existed, could give a great help to balancing the various social costs and benefits. This ecological compensation should be employed both at home and abroad. Money should change hands both for exploiting and restoring the environment.


我们需要更多的对话机会

仅仅在这里纸上谈兵是不够的,我们需要更多的对话机会,尤其是在实际合作中对话。

We need more opportunities for dialogue

To merely "fight on paper" here is not enough. We need more opportunities for dialogue, especially dialogue concerning real collaboration.


生态补偿

据我所知,如今尚未建设一种生态补偿的全球机制,但为清洁发展传递资金的机制却是存在的。清洁发展机制 (Clean Development Mechanism - CDM) 在京都协议的安排下让保证减少二氧化碳的发达国家投资于发展中国家的减排项目。这种做法比减少发达国家的二氧化碳排放量节约成本。而且,许多减少二氧化碳“足劲”的自身计划都用投资于贫国这个方式。比如,假如我班机从伦敦到北京,并且想弥补这次班机的二氧化碳排放,我就可以给发展中国家拨款来种植树木,还是在非洲农村里安装生物气蒸机。如此,可以帮助当地人民,也意味着他们再也不用燃烧二氧化碳来做饭。中国已经得到了CDM的益处,随着减少二氧化碳的重要性日益增加,发展中国家可以从那些排放量最大的国家,尤其是西方发达国家,应该承担最多的费用这个原则中受益。

ecological compensation

There is not, at present, a global mechanism for ecological compensation that I know of. But there is a mechanism from transfering funds for clean development. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialised countries that have made a committment to reducing greenhouse gases to invest in emission reducing projects in developing countries as an alternative to what is generally considered more costly emission reductions in their own countries. And many individual schemes for reducing carbon footprint involve investing in pooor countries. For instance, if I am flying between London and Beijing and want to offset the carbon emissions caused by my flight, I can give money to plant trees in a developing country -- or to install biogas cookers in a village in Africa. This helps the people there and means they no longer burn carbon to cook. China has already benefitted from CDM and as carbon reduction becomes more urgent the developing world stands to benefit under the principle that those who caused the problem should pay most to clean it up -- ie Western industrialised countries.


非洲兄弟

这两天非洲兄弟在北京开会,其中一个非洲官员说中国在非洲砍伐木材,同时也帮他们植树造林。我不知道真实的情况具体是怎样的,希望“中外对话”能发点这方面的文章。

African brothers

Over the past two days, our African brothers have held talks (with the Chinese government) in Beijing. One of them, an African government official, said that China is cutting timber in Africa, while also helping Africans to plant trees for reforestation. I don't know the specifics of the actual situation. I hope that "China Dialogue" could publish an article on the matter.


地区化取代全球化

我非常喜欢这篇文章和潘岳的回答。环境问题在中国政策中占据越来越重要的地位是件令人高兴的事情,尽管中国还可以做更多。首先,中国应该施行政策来减少温室气体的排放。第二,像西方发达国家一样,中国也在非洲和一些东南亚国家发展殖民政策。因为快速发展的经济需要,中国正在向这些国家进口木材,矿物和石油。这就意味着这些国家的自然资源在一步步减少,资源开发产生的污染也接踵而来。同时印尼,巴西,马来西亚和新几内亚巴布亚岛的雨林也因为向中国市场出口木材,大豆和棕榈油而遭到破坏。第三,中国的农民也面临着同样的问题,他们因为开发计划而失去自己的土地。或者只能种植出口农作物。第四,另一个问题是世界市场远比地方市场要重要。这个问题和新自由主义全球化有关,作为世贸组织成员的中国在其中扮演着重要角色。中国南方的农民因进口税降低而无法养活家人。向西方出口农作物使他们遭受损失。另一方面,西方的手工业者又因为中国市场的竞争而遭受损失。从这两方面看来,跨国公司赚取利润的同时穷人和环境首当其冲地受到影响。所以,我支持更地方化的贸易政策。停止自由贸易协议,给人们更多保护自然资源的主权。西方国家和中国(通过跨国公司)必须停止掠夺发展中国的自然资源。也就是说中国必须依靠自己的资源来发展中国经济。欧盟和美国也必须这样做。像咖啡和香蕉这样的产品还是可以进行贸易往来的,不过要付给南方种植农民合理的价格。但是自由贸易使得这些都成为不可能。欧盟环境协议,劳工标准,减少贫困和食品安全保障需要绕过世贸组织的条款。--Guus Geurts, 荷兰全球化,农业及环境顾问。我为牧场主组织,发展组织和环境组织工作。更多信息请登陆www.guusgeurts.nl , www.s2bnetwork.org , www.viacampesina.org

regionalisation instead of globalisation

I liked the article and the answers of Pan Yue very much. I'm glad to read that environment is playing a more important role in Chinese policy.
Although I think China could do a lot more.
First it should also implement a policy to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Second like western developed countries China has developed a colonist policy in relation to Africa, and some South East Asian countries. Because of lack of resources in relation to it's ever growing economy, it's now importing timber, minerals and oils from these countries. This means that local people in these countries are confronted with a lack of access to their natural resources, and the pollution which goes along with these resource extractions. Also the rainforest in Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea suffer because of imported timber, soy beans and palm oil for the Chinese market.

Third also in China farmers are confronted with the same problems, they loose their land to development schemes. Or export oriented agriculture prevails local food production.

Fourth, another problem which is related to neoliberal globalisation, in which China plays an important role as WTO-member, is that the world market is more important than local markets. So farmers in the South are not able to feed their own people, because import taxes are lowered. They suffer from (subsidised) exports from the West. At the other hand labourers in industry in the west suffer from competition from China. In both cases Trans National Corporations profit, while the (poor) people and the environment suffers.

So I would recommend a more regional approach in trade policy. Stop free trade agreements, and give people more sovereignty about their natural resources. Western countries and China (by their companies) have to stop plundering the resources in developing countries.
This means China has develop it's economy mainly with it's own resources. The same like the EU and the US have to do.
We still can trade in products like coffee and bananas but only if we pay farmers in the south a fair price. Free trade makes this impossible.
UN treaties on environment, labour standards, poverty reduction and food security need to go above WTO-rules.

Guus Geurts, consultant on globalisation, agriculture and the environment
the Netherlands
I work together with farmers-, development- and environmental organisations.
More information www.guusgeurts.nl, www.s2bnetwork.org, www.viacampesina.org


潘岳的评论是改革性的

对于向生态社会主义或者其他完美政治形式转变的讨论是非常有意义的,但是更值得注意的是通过那种机制实现它. 中国近几十年来经济改革突飞猛进的最大动力是将经济发展和官员考核联系在一起。现在在科学发展的口号下, 中国提出了绿色GDP,并且向前者一样,也成为官员考核的一种标准,这为未来几十年实现环保基础上的发展前进了一大步。

高层政府官员除了要实现经济发展和社会稳定的目标之外,还要达到环境保护的一定标准。他们的工资,晋升和声望都依赖于这些考核。为了实现这些目标,高层官员必须要成功领导和激励中层官员和其他职员。具体的考核步骤由中央委员会监督,并不是很透明。然而,关于环境的问题我们却需要一个开放和合作的途径去解决。绿色GDP和官员政绩考核的提出,还有一定程度上的公众监督使代表式民主更有效,从而避免了走向西方式的多数民主制。因为对财富,奢侈和“人权”的追求排在了所有其他东西的前面,西方式的民主已经被证明了没有能力做出此类重大决策,或者说缺乏相关的领导能力。西方国家或许可以从中国的努力和勇气中学到一些东西。我很感兴趣的关注着这个话题如何发展下去,也欢迎中国对话有更多文章讨论绿色GDP和相关的政绩考核。Simon Spooner, 英国Mott MacDonald Consultants Ltd.

Why what Pan Yue Says is truly radical

Talk of changing to an eco-socialist or other social political ideal is all very well but what really matters is the mechanisms to achieve this.

Under the banner of “Scientific concept of development” China’s development of the Green GDP system and the linking of this to the system of performance assessment for Government officials and administrations is a practical step towards utilising the same mechanism that has been behind the delivery of China's industrial economic transformation in recent decades, to achieve a transformation towards environmental responsibility over coming decades.

It is proposed that each senior official will be judged on attainment of environmental targets in addition to the current economic growth and social stability targets. Pay, promotion and reputation depend on these assessments. To achieve their targets the senior officials must successfully motivate the junior officials and workers they lead.

This assessment procedure is overseen by the CPC and remains somewhat opaque but the nature of environmental issues requires an open and cooperative approach.

The opening of the Green GDP and Cadre assessment procedures to a degree of public scrutiny will open a way towards more direct representation to the people without having to move towards western style populist democracy which has proven incapable of delivering the kind of tough decisions and leadership required to turn away from the spiralling environmental damage caused by the pursuit of wealth, luxury and "Human Rights" to the exclusion of all else.

There may be much that the West can learn from China in their courageous new political endeavour.

I watch with interest how this will unfold and would welcome future articles in China Dialogue exploring the proposals and pilots of Green GDP and Cadre Assessments

Simon Spooner, UK
Mott MacDonald Consultants Ltd


非常惊讶

以上两篇英国朋友的评论让我深感惊讶,他们对中国环境问题的认识远在一般中国人之上,分析非常到位。建议“中外对话”约请他们的文章。
因为教育等各方面的原因,中国百姓对环境的认识都还在非常粗浅的层面,需要更多的科普和引导。

Very impressive

The above two comments from our British friends are really impressive. The analyses were right to the point, conveying their knowledge of environmental problems in China which is way more than an average Chinese has. I suggest that "China Dialogue" invite them writing articles. The awareness of environmental issues among Chinese nationals are still very limited due to reasons like education, etc.. We need more scientific guidance.


激进的和令人振奋的

我很赞同Simon Spooner在评论中对绿色GDP的先进性和官员考核程序的看法。潘岳和他的同事们的所作的许多此类工作可能正是许多西方评论员对中国越来越着迷的原因。许多人似乎认为中国在努力实现将来环境方面的可持续发展,甚至有这样的领导能力,尽管几乎所有现有的统计资料都表明环境在恶化,是非常不容乐观的。(例如Liu和Diamond[2005],全球化进程中的中国环境,自然,435, 1179-1186)
也许我们(西方人)的关注是一种恰当的希望,也是一种失败的表现,因为我们在改变消耗方式和生产方式以减少对全球环境和资源的破坏方面进展缓慢(参见WWF在这里的有关文章),绝大多数发达国家在采用有重要意义的绿色GDP体系上的失败似乎是个恰当的例子。
正如Simon指出的,生态社会主义和生态工业文明需要一套机构,还要一个更有效的环境为本的政府。不过,潘岳的谈话真正吸引人,可能是因为它提出了一个完全不同的社会观念,这是一种可以接受的谋生之道和生活方式,也是我们所说的“发展”和“增长”。潘跃认为,“科学发展观追求的是政治、经济、社会、文化、思想与制度各个领域可持续发展的整体变革,也就是文明的变革。”几位中国的评论者提出的关于在中国追求“西方生活方式”质问正演变为追求新的理想和新的机构。在我看来,中外对话是在前进的例子:东方和西方都没有答案,但合作能使我们更接近一个更为美好的未来。所以谢谢你们!谢谢帮助我们克服了这个巨大的语言障碍!
Olivia Bina
Centro de Sistemas Urbanos e Regionais
Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa
Lisbon, Portugal (葡萄牙)

radical... and inspiring

I would like to follow-up from Simon Spooner’s comment regarding the Green GDP initiative and government officials’ assessment procedures. The work of Pan Yue and colleagues on these projects and many more is probably the reason why so many Western commentators are increasingly fascinated with China. Many seem to look at China for inspiration and even leadership on the path to more environmentally sustainable futures. And all this despite the background of very unpromising statistics on environmental deterioration on almost all fronts (see for e.g. Liu and Diamond (2005) China's environment in a globalizing world, Nature, 435, 1179-1186).

Perhaps our (western) fascination is as much a well placed hope as it is an indication of the frustration felt ‘back home’, with the slow progress we have made in shifting our patterns of consumption and production to reduce our impact on the global environment and its resources (see WWF related article here). The failure of most developed nations to adopt any significant Green GDP system seems a case in point.

As Simon pointed out, the eco-socialist and eco-industrial civilisation, will require quite a range of ‘mechanisms’, and a much more effective environmental governance regime. But what is perhaps really fascinating of Pan Yue’s discourse is the promise of a completely different idea of society, of what is an acceptable livelihood and lifestyle, of what we mean by ‘development’ and ‘growth’. Pan Yue talks about the scientific view of development as one seeking ‘a comprehensive and sustainable change of politics, economics, society, culture and theory – a transformation of civilisation’. The questioning, by several Chinese commentators, about the desirability (let alone possibility) of pursuing ‘western lifestyles’ in China is driving this pursuit for new ideas and new mechanisms.

It seems to me that China Dialogue exemplifies the way forward: neither East nor West has the answers, but jointly we may be more successful at getting closer to a better future. So thank you, also for helping us to overcome the formidale language barrier!

Olivia Bina
Centro de Sistemas Urbanos e Regionais
Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa
Lisbon, Portugal


生态社会主义

生态社会主义认为满足人类需要是要既解决生态问题又满足人类需要。生态社会主义反对国民生产总值GNP的增长,源于马克思的思想。

参见wikipedia的解释
这里是我们的宣言
我们积极地活跃在全世界的绿色及社会主义党派中,其中也包括中国。

Ecosocialism

Ecosocialism argues that by meeting human need we can solve ecological problems and meet human needs.

Ecosocialism rejects growth in GNP and is inspired by Marx.

see wikipedia
here is our manifesto

we are active in Green and socialist political parties in every part of the world including China.


地球是否终将死去?

只要有人类存在,就会消耗地球上的生态资源,就会使地球老化。所以我觉得,就像一个美人,不管怎样保养,也终究要人老珠黄。不管我们怎样环保,地球也终将不断衰退。而我们环保工作的作用就是保养,让地球老得慢一点,死得晚一点。

Will the earth die ultimately?

As long as human beings exist, ecological resources will be used up, which will cause the earth to age. So I think it's like a beautiful woman--no matter how well she takes care of herself, she will become ugly and faded in the end. The earth also will die away. The use of environmental protection is just a kind of caretaking, to slow down the aging just a bit, make its death come a little later.


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