India & China: Grave Threat or Leaders of Sustainability?
Energy guzzlers China and India are often blamed for some of the world’s environmental problems, but a new study says the two most populous nations may set the stage for a clean and green earth.
The two countries are mastering energy-efficient technologies, implementing cheap and environmentally responsible transportation systems, and adopting new water harvesting techniques as models for a sustainable economy, says the annual report of the US-based Worldwatch Institute.
“We were encouraged to find that a growing number of opinion leaders in China and India now recognize that the resource-intensive model for economic growth can’t work in the 21st century..."
"Though [China] doesn't admit it yet, the US model won't work for China. And if it does not work for China, it will not work for India..."
China’s solar industry, the world leader, already provides water heating for 35 million buildings, and India’s pioneering use of rainwater harvesting brings clean water to tens of thousands of homes, according to the report...
The world’s most populated nation has successfully pioneered the use of small wind turbines, hydrogenerators and biogas plants for power generation in remote rural areas. China is the world leader not only in solar hot water technology but in producing superefficient fluorescent light bulbs.It aims to roll out a bus system that combines the speed of a subway with the affordability of a bus. Trials have been held and bus use has jumped fivefold during rush hour, the report says. Electric bicycles are also becoming popular, with domestic sales having reportedly trebled the projected sales of cars....
India, which has a tradition of promoting renewable energy, has built the world’s fourth-largest wind power industry. It wants to increase renewable energy’s share of its power from 5 percent to 25 percent.
"Both nations are signatories of the Kyoto Protocol, but as developing nations they are exempted from cutting their emissions. However, China has already taken voluntary measures which have had a very positive impact," Verholme said.
Referring to last year's gathering on global warming in Canada, Verholme said: "What we saw in Montreal now was that while China came forward with measures it has taken to improve environmental sustainability, the US did not."
Some critics might find the worries of these US environmentalists hypocritical, since the US is still the greatest burner of oil, using 25 percent of global annual supplies and producing 25 percent of carbon emissions.
The US also has the largest ecological footprint. The average US citizen requires about 9.7 hectares to provide consumable resources and space for waste, an amount that is 205 percent of what the country can provide within its borders.
That figure is only 1.6 hectares for the average Chinese person, or 201 per cent of the country's capacity, and 0.8 hectares for the average Indian, or 210 per cent of the country's capacity.
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