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A Book about Green China in the Future

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A newest book in searching green China is published. It is a landmark for building green future in China.

The book, Green China: Chinese Insights on Environment and Development which is published by IIED with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and edited by James Keeley and Zheng Yisheng – is a collection of translated articles from the China Environment and Development Review. As such, it presents an interesting picture of sand maker not only of the environmental issues facing China, but also (so goes the premise of the book) of how these are discussed within the country itself.

The articles are divided into five categories, making up the five sections of the book: the first introduces the volume and outlines China’s main environmental challenges; the second describes case studies demonstrating approaches to conservation; the third deals with institutions and policies; the fourth considers a number of theoretical issues, and the fifth consists of a single chapter on the development of Chinese environmental NGOs.

A number of important topics are covered, including the fundamental role of institutions and administrative processes in the response to environmental crises, and the question of how to measure the impact of environmental damage on economic development. Another frequent theme is the effect of previous environmental policies, and how poorly planned or executed initiatives have shown themselves counterproductive, at times catastrophically so.

The more descriptive and detailed case studies of conservation from different regions in China are also interesting, and help to illustrate the sheer range of environments under threat. For the most part, the discussion takes place squarely in the context of China’s social and political demand for continued economic development, and it does tend to focus almost exclusively on China itself despite the global nature of the issues covered.

Broadly speaking the book is very accessible, and the English text is clear and consistent. Each chapter is self-contained, and can easily be read on its own without reference to the others. The collected articles do not perhaps provide a balanced or comprehensive overview of the current environmental debate in China, and some topics, such as green GDP accounting, are arguably overrepresented. The chapters also differ in the amount of data and analysis they present, and many of them limit themselves to general description and the statement of arguments, though most remain convincing. screw classifier:
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In describing the challenges faced by China, several crucially important points are made, one of which is the importance of institutional and legal structures as well as administrative processes in tackling environmental problems. In their chapter on environmental law, Wang Jin and Wang Mingyuan illustrate how China’s legal system has failed due to a consistent preoccupation with economic development in the framing of laws, and a lack of clarity and accountability in implementation and enforcement.

Similarly, Shen Keting’s chapter on relations between central and local government shows how incentives at every level, from taxation structure to performance assessment for civil servants, constantly pushes local government to pursue economic growth over environmental concerns, even to the point of defying central government regulations.

These and other chapters reveal the systemic nature of China’s environmental governance problems, and demonstrate the need for coordinating environmental regulation and integrating it with other legal and administrative priorities. This analysis of the inherent flaws in the system that lead to environmentally detrimental decision-making helps to provide a nuanced view of the problems – one that avoids the pitfall of simplistically and unconstructively shifting the blame onto individual or corporate self-interest.

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  • Posted On July 2, 2012
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