Newly released data from a Gallup survey conducted in 2011 shows that a 57% majority of Chinese citizens feel that protecting the environment should be a priority – even if doing so impedes economic growth.
While the degree of support for the environment varies among emerging-market BRIC* nations, all show a plurality or majority favoring the environment over economic growth.
Nationally, Chinese satisfaction with current environmental protections is high (77%), but urban dwellers are less satisfied than those living in rural areas.
Residents of China’s largest cities are less satisfied than urban residents as a whole, and more likely to favor prioritizing the environment over the economy.
China faces enormous environmental challenges in urban and rural areas, but particularly in its largest cities, where air and water quality have been seriously threatened due to rapid industrialization, urbanization and environmental protections that have historically lagged behind those of the developed nations.
The survey suggests that new government initiatives to improve the nation’s environmental health should be met with strong public support.
As the world’s largest consumer of energy and producer of greenhouse gasses, China also needs to build upon its recent investments in new energy sources and low-carbon technologies to reduce the country’s dependence upon coal for energy production.
* The BRIC nations include Brazil, Russia, India and China
All Charts: Gallup