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China ranks third in international Greendex survey

Recently, the U.S.-based National Geographic Society released a "Greendex 2009: Consumer Choice and the Environment — A Worldwide Tracking Survey" report. To the surprise of many people, the United States ranked last in the Greendex survey, which covers 17 developed and developing countries, with Canada in the penultimate spot. China, which has been labeled a "big environmental polluter" by the West, ranked third.

The Greendex survey is different from other environmental protection rankings, because its focus is not to compare the environmental protection policies of each country's government or their effectiveness, but the environmentally-friendly consumer behavior of their people. It investigated the consumption habits of 1,000 consumers selected from each surveyed country, covering aspects such as household electricity consumption, modes of transport used, and whether hot or cold water is used to wash clothing.

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The survey results indicate that there is "over consumption" in Europe and the United States compared to developing countries such as China. Sixty-eight percent of Germans drink bottled water, yet the Chinese usually drink boiled tap water. The average per capita ownership of vehicles in European countries and the United States was 0.5 units while the figure for developing countries like China was only 0.1 units, as most people commute by bicycle or bus.

Terry Garcia, executive vice president of the National Geographic Society said that the Greendex can evaluate progress made by the public over a given period in terms of energy saving, waste reduction and the conservation of natural resources.

According to a survey on the attitude of young Chinese toward climate change published in May 2009, 79 percent of respondents said that they had a responsibility to change their own behavior to cope with climate change, and 70 percent said they would encourage others to do the same. "The survey shows that young Chinese are willing to take action to deal with climate change. This willingness appears to be very strong," said Zhang Chenyi, chief scientist of the National Climatic Center under the National Climatic Center.

Efforts to "go green" have achieved significant results through solid action rather than mere words.

In fact, China is making efforts to protect the environment to cope with climate change. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments and enterprises are actively working on the cause and the results of these combined efforts have begun to emerge.

A survey sponsored by the China Chain Store & Franchise Association indicated that one year after the implementation of the "plastic limit order," plastic bag usage in China's supermarket retail sector has dropped by 66 percent, a reduction of almost 40 billion plastic bags. Calculated on the basis of the abovementioned figure, this move has saved the equivalent of 1.6 million tons of oil.

The Chinese government adopted a National Climate Change Program in 2007, becoming the first developing country to implement a national plan to cope with climate change. Between 2006 and 2008, China's annual energy consumption per unit GDP dropped by 1.79 percent, 4.04 percent and 4.59 percent year-on-year respectively. During this period, China shut down small coal-fire power generators with a combined capacity of 34.21 million kilowatts, and phased out 60.59 million tons of outdated iron-making capacity, 43.47 million tons of outdated steel-making capacity and 140 million tons of cement output capacity. Between 2000 and 2008, China's solar photovoltaic power generation capacity reached 120,000 kilowatts and the country had [156 million square yards] of solar heating facilities in operation, ranking it first in the world. China's installed capacity of hydraulic power and wind power ranked first and fourth in the world respectively and its installed capacity of nuclear power rose to 9.1 megawatts.

At the end of 2007, over 26.5 million rural households in China were using methane gas, replacing an annual consumption of up to 16 million tons of standard coal and equivalent to reducing 44 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, China now has the world's largest area of artificial afforestation, with its forest coverage rate rising from 12 percent in the early 1980's to the current 18.2 percent.

Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently said that 580 billion yuan of China's 4 trillion yuan stimulus plan will be used for projects related to combating climate change.

The green industry is the next growth engine for the world economy.

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, "investing in nature" is being called the new "driving force for wealth," and the green industry is considered to be the next growth engine for the world economy. "Going green" is not a choice but a necessity.

While developed countries have successively shifted their focus for coping with the global financial crisis to the "Green New Deal" supporting energy-saving and environmentally-friendly industries, China has also strengthened its support to emerging industries such as new energy.

Liu Zhiquan, deputy director of the Department of Science, Technology and Standards under the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that China has gradually boosted investment in environmental protection in order to expand domestic demand and cope with the global financial crisis. In 2009, the central government plans to allocate over 20 billion yuan to environmental protection.

Source: People's Daily Online

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