Let’s not overdo it – Claims that China Outperforms the United States

This headline surprised me this week: “China Outperforms U.S. on Green,” especially when I discovered that it was a piece in the New Scientist about our own WRI report on China. The commentator implies WRI’s report shows China is way ahead of the U.S., when in fact we present an argument simply that China is following its own pretty effective path. China is still struggling with air and water pollution issues, and its situation is akin to the United States in the early 1970s when we were just bringing into effect our major air and water laws, as well as establishing the Environmental Protection Agency.

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection achieved ministerial status scarcely two years ago, and significant gains in reducing air pollution date back little more than 4 years. National energy efficiency gains are also just three to four years old. These are a good start, and China has an array of climate programs in place that are impressive for a country that still is much poorer and less developed than the United States. The main message for the United States is simply that China can act, and worries about China shouldn’t prevent U.S. action.