Tight rope walk
24 Oct 2017 - 9:06
China has renewed its battle with pollution with the onset of winter. In the past four decades, the world’s second largest economy has become the manufacturing hub of the world. However, this spectacular success has come with a cost of foggy sky, polluted air and other environmental concerns.
Policy makers have a tight rope walk ahead as they have to clean up the country without disrupting growth.
Taking these concerns seriously, the authorities have decided to go tough on pollution. China, in August this year, vowed to cut average concentrations of airborne particles known as PM2.5 by more than 15 percent year-on-year in the winter months in 28 northern cities.
Country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has said the new target, for the October to March period, would apply to Beijing and Tianjin, along with 26 other cities in the smog-prone provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan.
The government is getting serious about enforcing its environmental laws. According to media reports, China’s Ministry of Environment, in the past year, has sent inspectors to 10 provinces, where they have reprimanded, fined, or charged officials in more than 80,000 factories with criminal offenses.
During the winter heating season, coal use traditionally spikes, worsening northern China’s air pollution. China would not like to see a repeat of last winter, when, after several years of improvement, air quality suddenly worsened in some cities.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for China to become an ‘ecological civilisation’ and pursue green growth in his report to a twice a decade meeting of the Chinese communist party. The progress made in addressing air pollution is not enough and China’s energy mix is still dominated by coal and the proportion of heavy industry is too high.
The country aims to diversify its energy mix and has charted ambitious plans for renewable energy. Early this year China said it plans to spend more than $360bn through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind.
The country’s National Energy Administration had said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming.
China is not alone in waging war against pollution. The fight against pollution is gradually gaining momentum around the globe. Many European countries have announced to reduce the usage of fossil fuels in coming years. While the battle against pollution may inflict some pain in the near future, but in the long term it promises a cleaner and safer world for coming generations.