How serious is China's pollution situation, and what is the government doing to protect their air?
China's economic power has greatly increased recently, therefore leading to the destruction of their resources and environmental problems. These problems, however, can date back centuries to the dynasties who grew China's territory while overusing their natural resources that contributed to natural disasters and famines. It was not until 1972 that Chaina began to create essential environmental institutions.
China today is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in world and they are responsible for 27% of global emissions from a report in 2014. There are many contributing factors to China's air quality, including China being the largest coal producer in the world. In fact, they account for approximately half of the world's consumption. Above is a chart showing coal plant emissions in China.
Another large contributing factor to China's pollution is the staggering number of cars in China. In 2014, there were 17 million new cars on the road. Car ownership is now 154 million compared to 27 million in 2004.
These environmental setbacks now pose a threat to China's economic growth. Annually, the country pays 3 to 10 percent of their national income. China's Ministry of Enviromental Protection claim that the cost of pollution is around $227 billion dollars.
Due to the serious environmental dangers, China's public health is declining more than ever. Air pollution contributes to about 1.2 million premature deaths in China per year. Studies done during the 1980's claim that the air quality causes signicant health complications; including cardiovascular, cerbrovascular, and respiratory diseases.
China's enviromental damage has caused citizen outrage and has posed a large problem for the communist party. Protests against the pollution have been increasing in frequency. In 2013 there were 712 cases regarding the environment. Addressing the problem, Li Keqiang, a member fo the communist party said, "Environmental pollution is a blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts. We must fight it with all our might." Even with this statement the communist party did almost to nothing, until recently.
Recently China has made a mapped out plan for ambitious enviroemtnal initiatives. Over the next five years the government has pledged to spend over $275 billion ot clean to air. Last month, China canceled plans to build 103 coal-fired plants. This is a large step from moving the country away from coal powered electricity; one of the dirtiest methods of producing it. China is trying to run on different sources of power, including: wind, solar, and nuclear.
While researching this project, I found out many interesting facts about the history of China's pollution. One of the most surprising, however, was the fact that China's environmental hazards started centuries ago from the dynasties that built the China we have today. I do hope that China's government does keep their promises on reducing coal emissions as well as emissions from vehicles. Another question I would ask to the Chinese government is, "If you succeed in creating different sources of energy in your country, how will you take care of the problem that is over population in cities leading to water pollution and sicknesses?"
I believe that the air pollution issue relates to the Mandate of Heaven and the citizens who question the communist party. The Mandate of Heaven is a mandate that gives a certain ruler the right to rule over the people. I think that the communist party is being questioned by the people of their validity to "rule" (govern).
1. Albert, Eleanor, and Beina Xu. "China's Environmental Crisis." Council on Foreign Relations. Last modified February 2014. Accessed February 1, 2017. http://www.cfr.org/china/chinas-environmental-crisis/p12608.
2. Tatlow, Didi Kirten. "China Has Made Strides in Addressing Air Pollution, Environmentalist Says." New York Times (New York City, NY), December 16, 2016. Accessed February 1, 2017. Https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/world/asia/china-air-pollution-ma-jun.html?_r=0.
3. Forsythe, Michael. "China Cancels 103 Coal Plants, Mindful of Smog and Wasted Capacity." New York Time (New York, NY), January 18, 2017. Accessed February 6, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/asia/china-coal-power-plants-pollution.html.
4. Phillips, Tom. "China Vows to Defeat Pollution with Energy 'Revolution'; Chinese Activists Hope for a 'New Era' of Environmental Protection as Minister Takes Office Promising to Make Polluters Pay." The Telegraph, March 15, 2015. GALE|A404075592