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China: Environmental Challenges and Opportunities

China is an economic powerhouse and among the world's top producers of electronics, iron, steel and apparel. With an economy that doubles every seven years, leaders plan to quadruple China's output over 2000 levels by 2020, creating 10 million jobs per year.

This success is impressive, but from an environmental standpoint it is troubling. Already, the nation is choking on the effects of its colossal growth. Among China's environmental challenges:

  • Most major rivers and lakes are severely polluted
  • More than 20,000 new cars hit the streets every day
  • Air pollution regularly exceeds EPA and WHO standards
  • Over 700 million Chinese lack access to improved sanitation
  • The world's largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions

But the good news-news you don't often hear-is that China is eager to blaze a new development path that is both resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly. In fact, recent policy changes in China can positively affect the environment:

  • New National Climate Change Plan lays out GHG emissions reduction and renewable energy goals
  • Aims to reduce energy intensity by 20% and sulfur dioxide pollution by 10% by 2010
  • Plans to build renewable energy to 15% of country's energy mix by 2020
  • With increased public hearings and the 2008 Environmental Information Law, public participation in environmental advocacy is expanding
  • Cities are adopting public transportation systems and energy-conserving building codes

For China, achieving their environmentally-friendly development goal will be a challenge. For WRI, this is an opportunity to contribute our expertise and experience - and impact one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. WRI has been working in China for close to a decade, and we have made a significant impact.

To be even more effective, WRI will establish an active, on-the-ground presence in the country by opening its first overseas office in Beijing this year.

Addressing any environmental issue requires a deep understanding of the complexities, the scale of changes necessary, and who to work with in order to bring about changes. WRI has the global reputation and the experience required to work with China as it pursues a path of sustainability.

Support WRI, and help us put ideas into action, where they're needed most in the world.

In the interdependent world in which we live, we all have a stake in working with China to forge a more sustainable path. Please make a contribution to WRI today.

Thank you,

Jonathan Lash

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