Two-thirds of Chinese class themselves as 'environmentalists'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 9:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 3:16am

China's massive pollution problems have given rise to a new force of environmental campaigners, research has found.

They are different politically compared with middle-class activists in the West and potentially more effective in tackling climate change.

In China, the world's biggest polluter, some 64 per cent of people identify themselves as environmentalists, more than double that of Europe and the United States, a report published yesterday by Dutch research agency Motivaction finds, which polled more than 48,000 consumers in 20 countries via an online survey.

Not only are many more people in China describing themselves as environmentalists, they also have a very different profile from those in the West.

The report finds the Chinese environmentalists tend to be socially conservative, devoted to family and traditional Asian values, and pro-business groups who believe that technology can solve the world's problems.

In contrast, the US and Europe have developed a "cosmopolitan environmentalism", supported frequently by highly-educated liberal groups.

The Chinese-style environmentalists have a much greater sense of urgency as they experience, for example, the choking pollution of Beijing, it found.

China is the world's biggest investor in green technology, which the report says can give it a competitive advantage. The party "declared war" on pollution in March over severe smog.