CHINA admits it’s an environmental nightmare


China admits it is the world’s no.2 polluter. The US is no.1 enemy polluter. It did the rankings itself, concentrating particularly on carbon emissions and water pollution. The last year of rankings was 2004 and the Chinese leadership says it has got nowhere since then with trying to clean up its act.

Seventeen years ago I was in Beijing myself for a week, then Shanghai for another week. In Beijing I hired a bicycle and took to the streets to join 1000s upon 1000s of locals going about their business. It was an amazing experience, sadly lost forever to ‘progress’ and the motor car. In Shanghai it was already a city of 13millions and it felt extremely crowded. There was however no skyscrapers or neon. Today it’s a city of well over 20millions, positively bathed in neon, with a hugh programme to move the locals into tower blocks. =

But hey, it makes our pollution figures in the West look good. Trouble is the effects are also global.

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5 Responses to CHINA admits it’s an environmental nightmare

  1. earthpal says:

    That’s progress for you Matt.

    Here’s a little bit of encouragement from the powers in China:

    (Those tower blocks sound horrendous!)

  2. matt says:

    Hmm, I’d like to see more detail on what they are intending to do in order to reach those stated targets. The only one mentioned was ‘to cut down on production’ and ‘shut down a power station in northern China’. Strange approach! Especially considering they haven’t been able to control record growth over the last 10 years or so.

    My guess is they’re simply making the right noises to international audiences. The fact that over 70% of their rivers are polluted is truely appalling. Still the River Thames was polluted for many decades and has only recently come back to life (apart from the occassional sewage surge!).

  3. keithsc says:

    Jonathon Porritt writing in Defra’s Green Futures states that the 11th Five Year Plan has targets that “include a 10% fall in total pollutants (notably sulphur dioxide emissions and chemical oxygen demand), a 20% fall in energy consumption per unit of GNP and a 30% reduction in water use (per unit of industrial value added). It’s also developing a green accounting system that will include full environmental costs in its calculation of GDP – something that I would dearly love to see working here in the UK.”

    Although China is the second biggest polluter for carbon dioxide emissions it is currently producing just over a seventh of the world’s total.

    As for the rivers China recognises it has a problem as they are running out of clean water. In July 2006 action on water pollution was top of the government’s environmental spending priorities and 1,400 billion yuan has been allotted to sewage works – 1.5% of China’s GDP for the next five years. According to the Worldwatch Institute “virtually the entire northern half of the country is drying out”.

  4. matt says:

    Thanks Keith.

    Green Futures is an excellent magazine. Think we have a link to it on the blog.

    China has very serious problems with a lack of water in the north, especially the NW, out by the desert areas. Don’t know how they are going to resolve them because their population continues to outstrip resources. Maybe a ‘no-child’ policy & a little increase in supply of ‘kidneys-on-demand’.

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