China and India take the helm

map of AsiaAs the world fretted over its sweaty fate this decade, it suddenly realized there were two sleeping giants huddled in the corner of the sauna: China and India. With billions of people calling these countries home and globalization converting them first into gewgaw-makers and support call-takers, then into tech giants, their appetite for energy is ravenous. Fueled largely by coal and unthwartable ambition, China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (though it’s not quite that simple), while India rose to the No. 4 spot. At the same time, China is giving the U.S. a serious run for its money in the cleantech sector, with its formidable and fast-growing wind and solar industries, and India is getting into the game as well.  At the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009, China, more than any other nation, was the big impediment to a meaningful global agreement — and yet any agreement that doesn’t include China simply won’t get the job done.  Whether the task at hand is polluting the planet or saving it, China and (to a lesser extent) India are now calling the shots.