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Will China clean up its act?

China has paid a high price for its rapid economic growth. But can the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases now lead a global green industrial revolution?

By Jonathon Porritt   February 2010

The fallout from the Copenhagen summit is still reverberating around the world. It isn’t just NGOs and academics who are up in arms—many governments, including Britain’s, have expressed dismay at the results. And most people agree that China is the principal bad guy.

It wasn’t meant to be like that. China’s leaders had made encouraging noises before the summit. In November 2009, China made a commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by at least 40 per cent by 2020 (on 2005 levels). Though falling short of actual cuts in emissions, the move was welcomed since it still…

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