In 2011, China overtook the US as the world’s greatest producer of carbon emissions.
It has not yet approached the US level of emissions per capita.
However, China is a developing country in which each individual will begin to consume more and more energy — and of course, its population is enormous.
China is aware of this problem: the One-Child Policy of 1979 is, in part, an environmental policy.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, US carbon emissions per capita soared, and a huge proportion of the population moved to cities.
China is now undergoing the same process.
Some in China argue that the West had its chance to industrialize without regard for environmental concerns; now that China is industrializing, the West is using the global warming issue to cripple its growth.
In any case, it is clear that China’s industrialization is damaging–and threatening in many ways to destroy–its own environment and contributing to global warming.
It is equally clear that the West depends on the very factories that produce China’s increasing carbon emissions.
Does the West therefore have to claim some responsibility for the environmental damage China causes?
Answers to such questions, and the actions we take (or fail to take), will have enormous consequences in the future.