“Pollution crosses borders. China’s problem is everyone’s problem,” says Peggy Liu at TED 2014.
Liu says that China actually has six advantages that could help it become a green economy faster than any other in the world.
- China has centralized control. This means that the nation can make large-scale infrastructure changes quickly. For example, China created the world’s largest highspeed rail system in a few years, where California has been trying to build one since the 1990s. And China made the decision virtually overnight to ban plastic bags nationwide.
- It has just a few key decision makers. When trying to bring the smart grid into China, Liu says it was a huge advantage that China has only two utility companies compared to 3,200 in the United States. By surrounding key people with information, Liu’s organization—JUCCCE—helped pave the way for $7 billion to build a smart grid.
- China is willing to learn from others. International coalitions on the ground in China can make big strides. As Liu points out, change here will depend on people from the outside coming in to help.
- China is willing to experiment. Liu says that China is now testing carbon emissions trading schemes in seven regions. She says they are taking commercially viable solutions, testing them and—if something works—will scale it across the country. “China has moved from being the factory of the world to being the clean-tech laboratory of the world,” says Liu.
- China is willing to change. Every five years, says Liu, China virtually becomes a new country. With 800 million members of the emerging middle class, part of the challenge is channeling it away from a desire for luxury goods and toward what she calls a “China Dream,” focused more on families then consumption.
- China is highly motivated. China has fewer resources than the United States, and they have to support four times as many people, says Liu. This means that, soon, the status quo will threaten China’s economic stability and its national security.
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Peggy Liu, Chairperson of JUCCCE, is internationally recognized for her expertise on China’s sustainability landscape and for fostering international collaboration with China. JUCCCE is a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the greening of China, because a green China is the key to a healthy world. JUCCCE is a leader in creating systemic change in sustainable cities, sustainable consumerism and smart grid, and most noted for its multi-sector convening power. Peggy has a passion for making the world a better place.
As one of the leading green thinkers in China, Peggy was honored as the Hillary Step for Climate Change Solutions in 2012, a Time MagazineHero of the Environment in 2008, the Hillary Laureate of 2010 for climate change leadership, a Forbes “Women to Watch in Asia” in 2010, a Huffington Post “Greatest Person of the Day” in 2011, one of China’s top 50 innovative business leaders by China Business News Weekly in 2012.