EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Beijing issues stark warning on EU-China relations‘:

Light entertainment is always welcome on a Friday morning – and thus a special thanks to Mr Song Zhe, the Chinese ambassador.

PWR congratulates the Chinese people on the great steps they have taken to improving their standard of living. Everybody deserves to have as a minimum enough food, access to clean water, clean air, access to health care and education. Oops…it’s that big Euro mouth of mine – silly me: of course clean water and air are a bit difficult in China at the moment. Sorry for my slip Mr Song, did not intend to cause any embarrassment – just pretend it was never said.

This brings us round to another tricky issue (not mentioned by Mr Song but well up the ‘agenda’ in the climate change talks): CO2 emissions. China makes much of its three tonnes per inhabitant emissions compared to the +/-9 tonnes for Europeans.

Sadly, as always the devil (Euro devil?) is in the detail. Recent output from the FP7 project ‘Ticket to Kyoto’ noted that ‘in 2005 Stockholm’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity and heating were four tons per inhabitant. In 2009 they had been reduced to 3.4 tons and the goal is to reach three tons no later than 2015’.

This raises two interesting questions. First, if a North European city can do it, why can’t all European cities have similar emissions per inhabitant? Second, if the Europeans can do it, why can’t the Chinese limit their emissions too? Oh dear, it’s my big mouth again.

Of course Mr Song is right. Europeans do have big mouths: sadly these come with the ‘democratic’ terrain. This makes life interesting if not uncomfortable for Euro politicos. I fully understand why the Chinese politbureau and its acolytes prefer more comfortable lives sans democracy.

Concerning Europeans’ ‘image’ amongst the Chinese, why would that matter? Their views don’t count anyway (’cause you don’t have multi-party elections).

Moving back to democracy and the assertion that there is unlikely to be Western-style democracy based on individualism (in China), but rather (something) founded on collectivism. This predicates ‘one flavour’ of democracy. A comparison between the USA and say Sweden (or France) shows the fallacy of that assertion and that democratic collectivism is alive and well in Europe. Furthermore, elections allow citizens to remove the crooks, oops…big mouth again…I meant politicos, and replace them with temporarily more honest people.

Naturally things are different in China where the party cadres are, to a man/woman, honest to a fault – always. Given this, why bother with elections when there is no need for the ‘democratic’ in ‘democratic collectivism’?

Concerning the trade (im)balance (something to be very proud of – well done China), one issue raised by your fellow party/politbureau members at the COP negotiations is that a large part of Chinese emissions (25%??) are the result of the production and export of goods to Europe.

China quite rightly expects the Europeans (and the US) to do something about their emissions. As we have seen from the Stockholm example, it is possible to reduce emissions massively. As part of this, I guess it would be OK if there was a large-scale reduction in Chinese exports to Europe – thus helping China with its emissions? Or would this be a problem?

My big mouth has blabbed for too long. so I’ll finish with some good news. You, me everybody is concerned about rare earths. I have some good news. There are massive, commercial deposits of these elements in a European territory called Greenland. So China can improve environmental controls at its RE mining and refining sites without having to worry about letting down its European partners – we are only a few years away from having our own RE supplies (I know this will greatly please you).

I will finish with the old Chinese greeting(?) ‘may you live in interesting times’.

Best regards,

Mike Parr


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