From results of a Gallup poll:

Fifty-seven percent of Chinese adults surveyed in 2011 — before the country's economic slowdown grabbed headlines — prioritized protecting the environment, even at the risk of curbing economic growth. About one in five believed economic growth is more important. Chinese attitudes are typical of those in other emerging-market economies, where residents sided with the environment over the economy in earlier surveys.

More Environmental Challenges Lie in Urban Areas

More than three in four (77%) Chinese are satisfied with current efforts to preserve the environment. Residents living in the urban areas, the hub of much of China's industrial activity, however, are significantly less satisfied than their rural counterparts with these efforts, as well as the quality of the air and water where they live. With good reason: The World Health Organization finds air pollution in Shanghai and Beijing is double or even triple the severity it is in London or Los Angeles. Further, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection finds groundwater at 57% of its monitoring sites in cities is polluted or extremely polluted.


China still lags behind developed countries in terms of efforts to protect the environment. At the same time, it is investing heavily in new energy sources and low-carbon technologies that could satisfy the substantial power demand from rapid urbanization while protecting the environment and reducing overreliance on coal.

Without aggressive strategies to combat pollution, China's environmental problems will likely only worsen as its urban areas continue to expand. Comprehensive urbanization policies that focus on conservation and the efficient use of natural resources such as energy, air, water, and land will be necessary to ensure the sustainability and quality of these resources in the future. On a regional level, cities such as Qingdao, Tianjin, and Shenyang are emerging as role models for urban economic and environmental development. They have all have shown leadership in developing best practices in successful green urban planning.

Majority of Chinese Prioritize Environment Over Economy