Back in 2014 China decided it was sick of producing so much pollution and decided to do something about it. China started to close coal plants, spent $120 billion cleaning air in cities and launched similar initiatives throughout the country. The results have been longer life spans for people in impacted areas and a more efficient economy. The rapid pace of change is impressive even for China as no other country has been so quick to reduce pollution, that being said China has a long way to go to reach WHO standards seen in the rest of the world.
Although most regions outpaced their targets, the most populated cities had some of the greatest declines. Beijing’s readings on concentrations of fine particulates declined by 35 percent; Hebei Province’s capital city, Shijiazhuang, cut its concentration by 39 percent; and Baoding, calledChina’s most polluted city in 2015, reduced its concentration by 38 percent.
To investigate the effects on people’s lives in China, I used two of my studies (more here and here) to convert the fine particulate concentrations into their effect on life spans. This is the same method that underlies the Air Quality-Life Index that can be explored here. These studies are based on data from China, so they don’t require extrapolation from the United States or some other country with relatively low concentrations of pollution.
China’s amazing economic growth came at the expensive of the natural environment (amongst other pains) which the country is now trying to revitalize. The country is literally paying the price of not having good environmental protecting policies, let this be a lesson to other countries that good policy can prevent a lot of bad things.
China spent $100 billion in the first half of 2017 to clean its waterways and update policies. Indeed, stricter rules have been in place around water management and new equipment has been installed to clean water. There have been over 8,000 water clean up projects launched this year! This is a massive effort that is good to see in a country that for too long neglected the environment.
With China desperate to increase supplies to guarantee future food and energy security, it promised in 2015 to make significant improvements in its major waterways and curb untreated wastewater from highly polluting sectors like mining, steelmaking, textiles, printing and oil refining.
In a bid to protect rural water supplies, China also identified 636,000 square kilometers (246,000 square miles) of land that would be made off limits to animal husbandry, and it shut 213,000 livestock and poultry farms in the first six months.
The ministry also said 809 new household sewage treatment facilities were built in the first half, but the regions of Tianjin, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Xinjiang, Hubei and Guangdong were behind schedule, it said.
Smog and Beijing go hand in hand due to the explosive growth of car ownership and poor environmental management. That’s starting to change. China’s capital city has mandated that when any new taxi hits the street that it has to be electric. This follows their efforts to replace their buses with an all electric fleet, which included putting 100,000 electric busses on the roads. This electrification will make huge strides in better air quality and advancing the electric car market.
All newly added or replaced taxies in the city of Beijing will be converted from gasoline to electricity, according to a draft work program on air pollution control for Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, and surrounding areas in 2017.
This is expected to create a market worth nine billion yuan (1.3 billion US dollars).
One expert says that such plan will not only make great contribution to environmental protection, but will drive the development of the new-energy vehicle industry.
I make games for a living and I love seeing people have fun – but I really don’t like golf courses. Golf takes up a lot of land and consumes an inordinate amount of water for the amount of entertainment it provides. Essentially, I agree that golf ruins a perfectly good walk.
In China the environmental (and social) costs of golf courses have reached record heights. As a result, over 100 golf courses are being closed by the Chinese government. Ironically, these golf courses were classified as parks and were built since China banned the development of new golf courses in 2004.
China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday the courses were closed for improperly using groundwater, arable land or protected land within nature reserves. It said authorities have imposed restrictions on 65 more courses.
China rightfully gets a lot of flak for its environmental policies; they are listening and acting on received criticism. Previously we noted that China started to close coal plants and that there is increased concern about climate change in the country. Over at Grist magazine they have catalogued seven ways which show China’s efforts in greening itself. Every little bit helps and at the scale of China’s economy little things go a long way.
— Cleaning up cars and trucks. China is the largest car market in the world. Cutting pollution from automobiles, like cutting pollution from coal plants, is essential not just to reducing CO2 emissions but to clearing the air in cities: The government estimates that roughly one-third of Beijing’s epic smog is from automobiles. China is pulling old, inefficient cars off the road, providing incentives for buying hybrids and electric cars, and enforcing stricter fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.
— Making buildings more energy efficient. Two years ago, China started issuing requirements for buildings to be given energy-efficiency upgrades. The energy savings are just beginning to be felt, but given that buildings can last for decades or even centuries, there could be a long payoff period.