The Economist reports:
China is the world’s worst polluter but largest investor in green energy.
So China’s status is a mixed outcome. Why would anyone be surprised or even alarmed?
The smog and other real pollutants mostly have known answers; China’s economy must grow large enough to implement them, when their marginal benefit outweighs their marginal cost (marginal does not mean small). Given China’s deep poverty even now, that may take a while.
China’s production of CO2 is not important in climate, but inefficient energy use does impede development and does produce other pollution out of proportion to the economic benefit.
A freer country would grow faster and would, if history is a guide, choose to use resources to mitigate environmental affects much sooner than China is likely to do under a command economy. The Eastern bloc nations were hiding ecological nightmares along with their gulags and their poverty.
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