By Renato Redentor Constantino
The Philippine leader should seek sustainable investment as an outcome of his visit to China this week.
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is in China this week to soothe relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and try to attract new trade deals.
Upon arrival in Beijing, Duterte will immediately notice the incredible blend of modernity and the past that China is determined to leave behind. The brimming sense of enterprise and economic might is manifest in 12-lane roads, layers of mass transport above and below ground, and massive buildings.
It is also the start of smog season, when the factories around the capital ramp up operations for winter. With luck, Duterte will have a front seat view of what many call the “Airpocalypse”.1
Besides the trade deals, the Philippine president will gather long-term investment insights. Ultimately, what will matter is not the size of economic cooperation Duterte’s state visit will produce, but the economic model he chooses to embrace. Wasteful, power-guzzling development dependent on heavy industry that is choking China’s very citizens; or a new Asian model thrumming with innovation and efficiency.
Years ago, skeptics said China would not sign up to international efforts to fight climate change until it had caught up with the developed world in terms of per capita GDP. They argued, as a matter of climate justice, that reductions should come exclusively from those responsible for the problem.
But now that China is the number one emitter of greenhouse gases and one of the countries to be severely affected by global warming, its leaders have realised no realistic agreement can be crafted without credible emissions reduction commitments from the country itself. It was a matter of self-interest.
About the Author
Renato Redentor Constantino is the Executive Director of Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, a climate and energy policy group based in the Philippines.