This book review of China, Inc. scares me. While green design and social responsibility have taken firm root in Europe and are penetrating the American consciousness, China, as this book review makes clear, is a ruthless economic machine devoted to one thing only: undercutting everybody else’s prices. (I wouldn’t want to be the one introducing CSR in sweatshops staffed by desperate ex-peasants churning out plastic bunnies, way cheaper than anyone else can make plastic bunnies.)While a lot of thought has been devoted to dealing with the environmental problems within China, and of course China’s considerable contributions to global warming, I haven’t seen as much written on the impact that the country’s coming economic ascendancy will have on environmental laws and regulations. What is the plan for greening commerce and supply chains in China? How do you regulate industries when hundreds of small businesses sprout up overnight? Who’s going to be brave enough to introduce energy efficiency products in a land where copyrights are not protected?
Since the Kyoto Protocol comes into force today, it seems like a good moment to say: Cool, and what next? Kyoto and other international agreements need to reckon with the reality that, developing or no, China is the new economic powerhouse.