While US lawmakers continue to debate whether climate change even exists, sweeping climate change reforms are starting to emerge from a surprising source—the People’s Republic of China. From massive investments in clean energy to sweeping environmental legislation, China undertook swift action in the wake of this year’s record-breaking smog. These actions provide a clear message: the rest of the world isn’t willing to keep waiting for the US to lead the charge against global warming.

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China’s poor air quality is legendary, but in the past year the government has taken serious steps to try to clean up its act. While the US is still struggling to enforce the Clean Air Act 23 years after its passing, China is coming down hard on corporate polluters. (Maybe a little too hard — the possibility of the death penalty has been raised as a solution for repeat offenders.)

That’s not the only new policy leaving the US in the dust when it comes to taking action on climate change. Just last month, China started rolling out an emissions trading scheme in its biggest cities. And in the past week the Finance Minister, Lou Jiwei, confirmed that China is working on implementing a carbon tax. Both of these ideas have been tough sells in the US.

It doesn’t stop there. China’s also investing a massive amount in clean energy projects — $65.1 billion in the last year alone, more than double the investment from the US government. While there are certainly aspects of China’s energy policy that could be improved, the rest of the world could stand to learn a lesson or two from their approach.

Via The Nation

Images via Francisco Diez and Charlotte Marillet