China: the red giant goes green

I was reporting it last week, China now surpasses the United States as the first greenhouse gases emitter. It accounts for 24 percent of global greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, pollutions of all kinds are soaring in the country. To put an end to all this, the Beijing government is moving towards a greener country.

The French magazine Terra Economica provided me a lot of interesting data on the changes that are due to take place there.

The current situation :

Chinese people are under more and more pressure as their environment is polluted. According to official sources, no less than 50,000 riots occur each year because of pollution and the degradation of the environment.

Indeed here are some truly frightening figures :

  • 750,000 people die each year because of water and air pollution as I was reporting it there ;
  • Sulfur dioxide emissions responsible for acid rains rise by 30 percent each year ;
  • 70 percent of rivers are polluted (also reported in a previous article) ;
  • Last but not least seven of the ten most polluted cities are located in China.

According to Mr. Michal Meidan from the Asia Center of Paris, pollution costs China eight to twelve percent of its growth domestic product. If not treated rapidly, the situation could worsen even more and China would have to pay a high price because of that.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond wrote about this situation and even mentioned the threat of China collapsing… (read my review of this book)

Some solutions :

On coal fired plants, Beijing decided to equip them with filters in order to decrease the particles emissions. Meanwhile, 533 small and obsolescent plants were closed as they were highly inefficient and required three times more coal than the larger ones that were built afterwards to replace them.

Furthermore, the government plans to close down 700 additional small plants and to replace them with more efficient ones that will require three times less coal to generate the same quantity of electricity and will thus cut by three their sulfur dioxide emissions.

On sorting out waste, the government is trying to implement such a system that will allow to recycle. The first results are encouraging as already 150,000 tonnes of plastic were recycled in 2006, and this for the capital city alone. This enabled to avoid using 300,000 tonnes of oil.

Renewable energies as I mentioned here previously are in the plans of the governement. Here are some figures from the Worldwatch Institute that will show you how renewables will help this country in solving some of its key issues :

To conclude on this article that might become the first of a long series – at least I hope – the situation is slowly changing in China toward the right direction.

One can hope it will continue to do so. In any case, be sure that I will keep you posted on this hot topic. So for this and for much more, stay tuned !

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