Coming clean on corruption’s links to pollution

Rarely does the leader of a country or corporation link character virtue with air pollution. But in early December, the new chief executive of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, did just that in his first explanation of what the German car company will now do after being caught altering the software in millions of its cars to cheat on emissions tests. In addition to new procedures aimed at preventing employees from bending the rules, Mr. Müller said VW must learn to operate with “humility.”

An arrogant dishonesty lies at the root of many of the world’s environmental problems, and VW is not alone in admitting it. In three of the most populous nations, a crisis over air pollution has led to demands for more action against corrupt officials who allow polluters to operate. The linkages are not hard to find.

In China, officials recently admitted they had lied about statistics on coal burning. The country has burned as much as 17 percent more coal than previously stated. In addition, the city of Beijing issued its highest-level alert for air pollution in early December. Critics say corruption had caused too many coal-fired power plants to be built near the capital. The evidence lies in a government anti-corruption campaign launched in 2012. A quarter of the top officials in state-run enterprises charged with corruption had worked in the energy industries.

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'To Bless All Mankind"
Fulfilling a deeper need
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