and Eastern Europe attest. And given the current level of knowledge about the functioning of command economies, even if policy changes were known in advance, the success of their implementation, and therefore their precise effects on energy productivity, would be hard to predict.
No one knows how the Chinese will use the fruits of future economic development. If they make major investments in energy productivity—for instance, modernizing the coal industry, using electricity to replace inefficient coal burning, and developing the service sector of the economy—much can be done to mitigate CO2 emissions. But other directions of investment, focusing on new manufacturing and expanded energy services such as refrigeration and personal transportation, would be much more energy intensive. If China makes a major shift toward market incentives, the decentralization of choice will promote efficiency in production, but it might also encourage energy-intensive consumption, as individuals gain disposable income. The net effect on energy intensity is still unknown.
Another important unknown is whether government policies will emphasize energy efficiency and the global environment. China already has policies to reduce coal use, but not in order to improve energy efficiency. The priorities are urban air pollution, freeing rail cars for noncoal cargo, and reduction of sulfur oxide emissions. These priorities encourage some energy-productive investments, such as combined heat and power plants that capture waste heat to warm buildings. But other important energy-productive investments do not fit these priorities. The future thrust of Chinese environmental policy depends, of course, on politics. Current environmental policies have been set from the top down, influenced by the exposure of traveling Chinese officials to the environmental concerns of foreign scientists, international organizations, and investors (Ross, 1987). If China turns inward to resist democratization, global concerns about energy efficiency may not influence Chinese policy for a long time. If environmental politics in China decentralizes and democratizes, an opening will appear for local environmental movements, which have been prevented from forming horizontal linkages in the past (Ross, 1987). Freedom for Chinese environmentalists, however, might lead to pressure for local changes, rather than for policies that improve energy efficiency nationally.
In sum, the Chinese contribution to global climate change depends on the interactions of technology with social factors, including population growth, economic development, policy, and