Global Fridays: China for a day? Not necessary.

Dec 17, 2010
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The New York Times had a piece recently on the threat that many within the United States feel as a result of China’s continued growth in the clean energy market. China recently decided to invest $1.5 trillion in seven key sectors many of which deal with alternative and sustainable energy. President Obama has repeatedly stated that he wants the U.S. to be the leader in clean energy not China. Yet it’s the Chinese who are making the jaw-dropping investment and grabbing market share at a rapid pace.

This has led columnist and author Tom Friedman to frequently ponder the question of what we could done if only we could be “China for a day.” On this theme Friedman noting the benefits for getting stuff done quickly that authoritarian government provides during an appearance on Meet the Press in May of this year said:

“What if we could just be China for a day? I mean just one day… where we could actually you know authorize the right solutions on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second OK I want my democracy to work with the same authority focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.”

Bernhard Pötter a German environmental journalist argues that authoritarian government is not necessary for the advancement of climate and environmental goals. Instead he believes we can infuse such goals into democratic systems without creating an “environmental autocracy.”

Pötter argues that eco-democracy is simply the next step in the evolution of Western government which has adapted to other major changes and shoul be able to do so again. Pötter uses the EU as the foundation in his proposal but his primary solutions – the establishment of ecological stability parameters (which is not a new concept) and a funding mechanism to see to it that these parameters are not breached (or reigned in if they already have been) – can easily be translated to the U.S. and other countries.

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