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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关键是制度啊

这样的官员多点当然好,关键是应该有合理的制度能够让这样的官员在政府中生存并且上升,这才是希望所在。

The key point is the institutional system

It is good to have more officials like him, but the key point is that healthy institutional system enables them survive and prosper in the government, and this is where the hope lies.


生态文明

拜读完数页评论,我也想阐述一下我的观点。这里的根本问题甚至不在于资本主义,而是更加宽泛意义上的政治经济。尽管是在一个社会主义的框架下,消费和经济增长也一样是社会的支柱。驱使我们进行消费的是我们对成功、幸福等概念的表述(或者说标准化理想)。的确,资本主义的标准化理想破坏环境的可能性更大,因为它们促使个人需求的膨胀,从而要求越来越多的资源来使之得到满足。在这里,我们必须反思的,是我们的生活方式,这也是我所理解的“生态文明”的必经之路。我们活着是为了消费(提醒一下,消费(consume)来自于拉丁语的破坏(consumare)),还是为了活着而活着?后者是不需要那么多消费的。

Eco civilization

After reading a few pages of comments, I would like to bring in my opinion.
The fundamental issue there is not even capitalism, but more generally speaking, political economy. Even under a socialistic regime, consumption and economic growth are still pillars of the society. We are driven to consume through the representations we have (or standard ideals) of sucess, of hapiness etc. Indeed, the standard ideals of capitalism are more likely to be environmentally damaging, as they push the individual towards more and more needs, thus needing more and more resource use to satisfy those.
What we have to review, and that's where I believe that the term "eco civilization" has to be brought in, is our way to live. Do we live in order to consume (as a reminder, consuming comes from the latin consumare, wich means to destroy), or do we live just for the sake of living, which does not need that much of consuming.


不错

中国无论多大,都是在地球这个大家庭里面!

Good

No matter how big it becomes, China will always be a member of our big family Earth!


绿色惩罚

随着国民生活水平的提高,我们对于健康和人居环境的关注也日益提高。在现代社会,一个城市的竞争力已经不仅仅是它的经济、地理位置、和政治地位等,城市的生态环境也日益成为一个很重要的因素。
依靠人的创造,促进人与自然之间的和谐发展。人是环境的产物,环境造就人,人也改变着环境。因此,作为社会主体的人和社会赖以寄存的自然环境,应当也能够获得双赢互利,这是我们必须始终坚持和追求的崇高目标。任何时候、任何情况下都不能以牺牲自然资源和自然环境为代价,更不能以牺牲子孙后代的生存发展条件为代价,去换取一时一地的发展。应该看到,人欲的激发和资源的匮乏所引发的对资源控制权力的争夺,导致了价值尺度的扭曲、伦理准则的变形,人类对自然的倒行逆施造成了越来越严重的“绿色惩罚”。
罗治钢

Green punishment

As the national living standard improves, we are paying more and more attention to health and the environment we live with. In modern society, the competitiveness of a city is no longer restricted to the economic power, the geographic location, or political status and the alike, the ecological environment of the city has become an increasingly important factor. To count on people's creativities. And to introduce an harmonious development of nature and mankind. Human beings are son of environment. The environment gave birth to mankind. And human beings are changing the environment too. Therefore, we, who form the society, and the nature, whom the society cannot live without, should be able to find a win-win. And this should be our goal, a lofty goal which we should always stick to and try to pursue. We cannot trade anything for natural resources and environment in anytime, under any circumstances. Furthermore, we cannot sacrifice the living conditions of our offspring for our immediate benefits in development. We should see that the boosts of human desires and the scarcity of natural resources are putting a trigger to the fight over resource controls, which subsequently distorts the price, or even ethics. What we did wrong to the nature has led to the increasingly serious "green punishment".

Luo Zhigang


一家之言

费了点时间看完了全部评论。对话,就应该有正反双方的观点碰撞,而不是一味的阿谀奉承!

Personal viewpoint

I have spent some time reading all the comments. "Dialogue" means people's opinions clashing in the process of argumentation, not everyone acting like a creep!


人类素食

和平,减少军备,减少养殖动物,人类素食,为世界祈祷,这也有利于地球环保。

A vegetarian world

Peace, disarmament, curbing animal husbandry, vegetarianism, and prayers for this world; all of these would also help protect the environment.


环境的破坏危害,人类的未来还有多远,我们该怎样拯救

我们需要科技,我们需要发展,但我们更需要一个好的赖以生存的环境空间!再说发展也不一定要靠破坏环境,浪费资源来求得呀,我不想谈论政府,商家和平民百姓之间的关系现在怎样,我只想说,我们现在必须团结一心,才能使人类有更久远的发展!

有很多人说,我们只要过好现在,享受现在,管它以后呢,那我想问:你们生育女干什么呢?让他(她)们享受我们留下的可能无法挽救的灾难吗?!何况这灾难离我们还有多远呢!?

在如今的经济社会,没有钱什么事都干不了,中国每一个城市都活跃着志愿者的身影,但因生活的无奈,又无财力支撑,他(她)们只能在顾全自身的时候,利用少数时间默默地为社会做些力所能及的事。

公益就是大家的利益,公益事业也就是我们每个人自已的事业我们每一个人都应该积极行动起来!

我建议商业化运作,为志愿者建立一种保障机制,给志愿者更多信心来提高参入公益事业的热情!

作为一个企业来讲,不仅要追求经济效应,更应打造社会效应,只有一个好的社会环境才能为企业带来更稳更高更长久的经济效应。

自行车,一个大众化的很好环保交通工具,每天适当骑行还有利健康。

To destroy and jeopardize the environment, how far can we go, how should we save it

We need technology and development, but we even desperately need an environment where we can live! Moreover, development does not necessarily depend on destroying the environment, and wasting resources either. I wouldn’t discuss about how is the relation among government, trader and the public, what I would like to mention is, now we must cooperate in order to proceed with a long term development! Most of the people will say, as long as we are live well and enjoy for the time being, can’t be bother about future. Then, I have a question: What is the point you have your next generation? Let him (her) to enjoy those irreversible disasters left by us?Much less, how far away the disaster is currently with us?! In the current economic society, things will not proceed without money, every town in China are full of the shadow of volunteers, however due to living, and they have no choice. In addition, lack of financial support, he (she) can only care about their own, make use of the least time they have to work for the society within their ability. Public benefit and the benefit for everyone, works that benefit everyone should be undertaken by all of us with enthusiasm! I would suggest commercialising the operation, forming a security system for volunteers, and providing more confident for volunteers to take part in the activities! Being an enterprise, apart from pursuing economical efficiency, but also need to create social efficiency, a good social environment will definitely bring a stable and long term economical efficiency. Bicycle, a popular environmental friendly transportation, do appropriate cycling everyday will benefit our health.


生态社会学

很久以前西方国家和日本的资本主义发展所经历的地缘历史阶段和中国现在正在经历的阶段有很大的不同。在工业需求量方面来看,那时候的能源资源相对丰富,并且大气中的温室气体还没有这么严重。经济现代化的先驱们将大部分资本主义发展所带来的生态成本成功的转嫁到落后或贫穷或被殖民的地区。而中国现在没有条件享受如此优越的条件。全球范围而言,商业用途的能源供应日益紧张。生态条件而言,吸收二氧化碳气体的能力越来越弱。同时中国没有很大的空间将工业发展所积累的环境问题转移到外界---所以环境负担大部分被中国本土的人口所承受着,特别是在一些贫困,内陆的农村地区。从公正性的角度来看,中国的人均GDP应该同西欧,北美和日本等国家持平—但是从地缘政治角度来看,这是不可能的。在中国能够缩小与其他富国工资收入上的差别之前,那些由于环境压力而增加的社会问题会困扰中国。所以,建立一个真正的生态社会才是中国避免此噩梦一般后果的唯一出路,在真正的生态社会中,社会的发展和基础教育,医疗,营养以及个人对自由时间的要求同时发展,而不只是局限于满足少数富裕和中产阶级对豪华车,大房子和等离子电视的需要。但我恐怕中国人要在大部分人口挣扎经历过后才会吸取其中的教训。

ecological socialism

The Western countries (and Japan) underwent capitalist development in a very different geo-historical epoch than the one that China confronts today. Relative to levels of industrial demand, fossil energy resources were relatively abundant, and the atmosphere had yet to fill up with greenhouse gases. The early economic modernizers were also able to displace many of the ecological costs of capitalist development onto the "backwards/colonized/poor" (sic) areas of the world.

China today enjoys no such luxuries. Supplies of commercially viable energy resources worldwide are under great strain. The biosphere's carbon-absorbing capacity is massively overwhelmed. China has much less room to dump the environmental contradictions of its industrial accumulation on outside parties -- many of these burdens are put upon its own population, especially in the poor, inland, and rural regions.

From the standpoint of distributive justice there is no reason why Chinese GDP per capita should not equal that of Western Europe, North America, Japan, etc. – but it is not geo-physically possible. Great social upheavals within China, related to various forms of socio-environmental distress, will arrive before any kind of parity with the high-income countries is close to being achieved.

The only way out of this nightmare scenario is for China to pioneer a truly "ecological socialist" society in which development equals meeting the basic educational, health, nutrition, and free time needs of everyone, rather than the wants of a rich and middle class minority for luxury automobiles, McMansion housing, and plasma TV's.

But I'm afraid for the Chinese people that this lesson will only be learnt the very hard way after much popular suffering.


我的观点

内容很好,但是题目不对!

My point of view

The content is perfect, but the title was wrong!


感觉潘越很不错!

一种令人激动的方式在探索着现实的和谐,非常令人感动。作官可以这样真诚可以这样率直,真让我对作官这件事要刮目相看了!我喜欢这样敢做敢为的官员,不喜欢那些在权力和金钱面前嘴软,腿软的官员。

I think Pan Yue is really good

This is a very exciting and touching way of trying to achieve harmony in the reality. A government official is so sincere and frank that he makes me have new understanding of being a government official! I like those officials who are brave to take measures just like him, and i dislike those who surrender and bow their knees to power and money.


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