Young Chinese: Cars First, Then Sustainable Consumption

Traffic congestion in China

Photo credit: BusinessWeek

The young people of China may think the planet is worth saving, but not if it means giving up a smokin' set of wheels. Around 84 percent of young Chinese want to buy a car, one of the leading causes of urban air pollution, despite the fact that 80 percent of them are concerned about global warming, a survey has found.

Only 0.4 percent of young Chinese said they were unaware of the problem caused by vehicular emissions, according to the survey of awareness of sustainable consumption, jointly conducted by a China daily and The British Council.

The survey, which polled 2,500 people averaging 30.1 years in age and mostly living in large or medium-size cities in 31 provinces, found that 76 percent said they "did what they could" to save energy and electricity.Still, 37 percent of respondents wanted to live in a large home, while 21 percent wanted to travel abroad; most would buy a car if they had the financial wherewithal. An overwhelming 78 percent of young Chinese said that environmental management was the government's job.

"If a high quality of life is defined by luxury cars or homes, consumers will think their quality of life would drop by reducing car and energy usage, so they do nothing," Pan Jiahua, a researcher with the Sustainable Development Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says.

China is already the world's fastest-growing car market, with sales up 73 percent in 2003 alone, according to The New York Times. As recently as a few years ago, China's car sales were tiny, but a rapid expansion of the country's auto factories, together with breakneck economic growth, a burgeoning middle class, and the growing availability of car loans, has resulted in the boom.

Now the world's second largest market for new vehicles after the United States, with sales of 7.2 million, auto sales are rising at a rate of more than 20 percent per year, estimates the San Francisco Chronicle. The nation's total car ownership is expected to outstrip the United States' by 2025. Zoom zoom. ::Zee News

See also ::China's Climate Change Report: "It's Getting Hot in Here", ::China to World: We're Green, Honest!, and ::China Has a Plan for Climate Change

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