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Green or Brown? Environmental Attitudes and Governance in Greater China

Paul G. Harris

Keywords: CHINA; ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDES; ENVIRONMENTAL BEHAVIOR; ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY; ENVIRONMENTAL VALUES

China is experiencing profound adverse environmental changes, many of them driven—and all exacerbated—by rapid economic growth. Attitudes toward the environment in China are ambiguous. Nevertheless, these attitudes are indicators of how the Chinese view the natural environment and how they are likely to behave toward it and respond to efforts to protect it. They are also important precursors to actions by the Chinese government to address environmental problems that affect the rest of the world. Environmental awareness and attitudes are associated with individuals' educational level, socio-economic status, living environment, and exposure to media. By understanding the Chinese view of the environment and the degree to which they prioritize it (or not) relative to other important issues, Chinese and international policymakers and stakeholders can enhance their capacity to perhaps start shifting these attitudes, values, and behaviors toward those that might do less harm to China's environment and the world's. This article reviews findings on environmental awareness, attitudes, and behaviors, and makes observations on their implications for environmental governance in China. Information is drawn from Chinese survey data, secondary Chinese-language sources, and related tertiary literature.

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