China’s Ecological Footprint and New Chemical Policies

Everyone’s eyes are on China. It is growing faster than rabbit make babies and it looks to many of us that it is leapfrogging the U.S. and maybe even Europe as well on clean tech. Nonetheless, it still has huge environmental demons.

The World Wildlife Federation (WWF), the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), the Global Footprint Network, and China’s Institute of Geographic Sciences and National Resources Research (IGSNRR) created a report recently on China’s Ecological Footprint.

A key finding is that China is using more resources each year per capita than the world can supply in that same time period. “A world consuming resources and producing wastes at Chinese levels for 2007 would need the equivalent of 1.2 planets to support its activities, compared to 0.8 of a planet at 2003 Chinese consumption levels,” the WWF reports.

Not very bright news. This indicates that China is getting close to the global average for resource use. 1.5 planets would be needed to supply the world with all of its resources and deal with all of its waste sustainably according to the 2007 global average.

While it is clear that China is putting much more into clean energy than the U.S. in order to try to address its environmental unsustainability and renewable energy is growing faster than coal there, another less-discussed area where China is now leapfrogging the U.S. is on chemical data and safety requirements.

China now has new chemical requirements that “include the very same elements the U.S. industry has been warning would send chemical production and innovation running to China if they were to be adopted in the U.S.”

Looks like while China still has a lot of demons to deal with, the U.S. has even more.

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Photo Credit: Magalie L’Abbé via flickr (CC license)