In the lead‐up to the 2009 climate change discussions in Copenhagen, the role of China began to take center stage. It had just become the world's largest emitter of carbon emissions, and it was taking the lead to represent developing nations at the talks. It was a coming‐out party for China that elevated its role to a position of significant responsibility, at a time when China really was not capable of meeting the obligations they themselves set out. While China's internal focus may be seen externally as stymieing a global effort, it may be exactly what the world needs. A practical approach to fixing “local” problems that in turn recalibrates the very systems that are constantly stalled at the global levels from the bottom up. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.