China’s accelerated growth parallels the emergence of a new urban middle class. Studies estimate that 14 per cent of the current Chinese population belongs to the middle class, and this percentage will only grow further.
These citizens are economically better off, well-educated, no longer engaged in agricultural or industrial production, but rather in services, have a modern and outward looking world view, and are optimistic about the dazzling opportunities that lie ahead of them. Is this new middle class an environmental catastrophe for planet earth?
First and foremost, this new middle class represents China as a consumer society. Its purchasing power brings cars, durable electric and electronic equipment, (inter)national tourism travellings, larger houses and a meat-based diet within reach of the masses. The growth in car sales during the past decade is telling – rising each year between 20 and 30 per cent. This made China the world’s largest car producer and the world’s largest energy user.
More consumption means more energy and material use, more intensive (agricultural and industrial) production, more waste, and more pollution. Increased production for exports further contributes to this. The consequences are shown in WWF’s China Ecological Footprint Report 2010: a rapidly increasing national ecological footprint (with a widening gap between the wealthy and poor).
Hence it is not without reason that this new middle class is widely associated with spreading pollution and unsustainable behaviour.
Read more: Al Jazeera >>
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.
About the AuthorTckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.
View Author Profile