* China is world's biggest polluter, followed by U.S.
* Some 64 percent of Chinese says they are environmentalists
* Chinese environmentalists different from in the West
By Anna Nicolaou
May 7 China's massive pollution problems have
given rise to a new force of environmental campaigners,
different politically from middle class activists in the West
and potentially more effective in tackling climate change, new
In Europe, financial crisis has knocked environmental policy
down the political agenda and populist movements see
environmentalism as a hobby of European elites.
Meanwhile in the United States, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks
pushed energy security to the top of the political agenda.
But in China, the world's biggest polluter, some 64 percent
of Chinese identify themselves as environmentalists, more than
double that of Europe and the United States, a report published
on Wednesday by Dutch research agency Motivaction finds.
Motivaction interviewed more than 48,000 consumers in 20
countries about their values and behaviour, through online
Not only are many more people in China describing themselves
as environmentalists, they also have a very different profile
from climate champions in the West.
The report finds they tend to be socially conservative,
devoted to family and traditional Asian values, and pro-business
groups who believe strongly in the role of technology to solve
the world's problems.
In contrast, the United States and Europe have developed a
"cosmopolitan environmentalism", a movement supported frequently
by liberal, highly-educated and politically active groups.
The Chinese-style environmentalists have a much greater
sense of urgency as they experience, for example, the choking
pollution of Beijing, and the new report concludes multinational
companies need to understand how to harness their potential.
Already China is the world's biggest investor in green
technology, which the report says can give it a competitive
advantage as innovative companies tend to thrive.
China, which is blamed for nearly a third of the world's
carbon emissions, is also pressing ahead with investment.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang "declared war" on pollution in
March after an official Chinese report dubbed Beijing "barely
suitable" for living due to hazardous smog. China pledged to
spend $1.65 billion to combat air pollution and $330 billion on
There is still a big challenge to persuade China to sign up
to a new global deal on tackling climate change, hoped for at a
U.N. summit in 2015.
European environmentalists have tended to see the Chinese
government as a roadblock to an international climate deal.
However, when spurred by its own growing population of
environmentalists threatening social unrest over levels of
pollution, it can act more decisively than Western coalitions.
"When the Chinese government decides to do something, they
do it," says Kathryn Sheridan, CEO of a Brussels-based
sustainability communications consultancy. "It's not the talking
shop that we see in Europe."
(Editing by Barbara Lewis and Michael Perry)