From CNN – 17 December 2009- Could China be the world’s green champion? It seems unlikely. The vast nation is typically portrayed as a dire threat to the planet, with a booming population and a commitment to that dirtiest of fuels — coal.

But all that might be about to change.

In a column in the New York Times in September headlined “The New Sputnik” Marshall Scholar and multi-Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman argued that not only was China going green, but that the decision would spark change around the world — particularly in the U.S. – much as the USSR’s decision to launch Sputnik turbo-charged the space race in 1957.

“China’s leaders have decided to go green,” he wrote. “…too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.”

The column sparked a fury of debate. In the UK, the Guardian’s Jonathan Watts accused him of spending “too long sipping tea with Dalian’s technocrats and not enough time breathing the air in Shanxi, Henan and Beijing.”  Read More >>>

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