But the problem goes beyond China. Other economies are growing and their emissions are increasingly significant. Indonesia and Vietnam, for example, are increasingly industrialized.
Annie Koh, associate professor of finance at Singapore Management University, believes Asia has recognized the need to implement climate-smart growth.
“Government, the private sector and civil society in Asia agree that Asia can no longer ignore the evidence pointing to how rapid growth can deplete natural capital and resources,” she says.
“Governments across the region have recognized the need to have shared vision and shared responsibilities for driving change in the area of climactic catastrophes.”
For Asian countries, the reality is that a coordinated approach is needed to deal both with the causes of climate change, such as emissions of greenhouse gases, and the devastating natural disasters that are its effects.
“These days, the conversation is no longer about growth at all expense, but to have sustainable inclusive growth,” says Koh. “ASEAN and East Asia need to ensure that we all grow as a region,” she adds, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
But, says Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole Carbon, a social enterprise focused on environmental sustainability, Asia is also the biggest investor in the world in clean technology, which is seen as the best hope of reducing emissions.