The economic and political decisions made by this generation of Chinese leaders will have a decisive effect on our global future. China is becoming the primary driver of global climate change, now emitting more carbon dioxide in aggregate (though not per capita) than any other nation.1 A recent New York Times editorial denounced China and the United States for establishing an "alliance of denial" in which the two countries "are using each other's inaction as an excuse to do nothing."2 Many members of the international community are calling on Beijing to adopt more rigorous policies to limit the growth of China's carbon emissions to reflect the country's status as an emerging global stakeholder sharing the burdens of world leadership. Some of these appeals have been less than effective, for China's reasoning that the United States is not showing itself to be serious still holds validity. According to the World Bank, sixteen of the world's twenty most polluted cities are in China—the air is so polluted that it causes 400,000 premature deaths every year.3 Not surprisingly, China's own population is emerging as an important voice inside the country arguing for more responsive environmental policies.
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