Monday, November 10, 2008

China tells Western citizens to change their lifestyles

Having just returned from a week long visit to China (of which more later) it is fitting to mark my return with a China-centric post.

The premise of this press release is that rich nations should change their lifestyles to help fight climate change. This statement is fine by itself but there is a problem here.

After visiting China for a week it is clear that Chinese citizens are attempting to replicate the Western lifestyle as quickly as possible. The capitalist ethos in China is very strong and the learning curve is very steep. The view from the top of the Oriental Peal in Shanghai for example is a sea of neon lights to rival any in the world.

Conspicuous consumption is also rising rapidly. I have never seen "jewelry and gold shops" doing so much business in any Western city.

So whilst it is fine to ask western consumers to change their lifestyles this type of lifestyle emulation has to some how be seen as less attractive.

There is also no getting away from the large and growing income inequality in China. This is something that needs to be looked at carefully by researchers as I think the implications are potentially serious. There are some seemingly strange anomalies in the pricing of goods in China relative to wages that I find fascinating.

China Tells Rich Polluting Nations To Change Lifestyle [PlanetArk]

BEIJING - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said rich nations must abandon their "unsustainable lifestyle" to fight climate change and expand help to poor nations bearing the brunt of worsening droughts and rising sea levels.

Wen told the opening of a conference on Friday the financial crisis was no reason for rich nations to delay fighting global warming.

"As the global financial crisis spreads and worsens, and the world economy slows down apparently, the international community must not waver in its determination to tackle climate change," Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.


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