Let us try to count how many times, the air quality situation in China made headlines in the US in the past two, three years. The images of a city covered in thick fog-like smog. The images of family walking on the street with mask on their face. The images of an artificial image of sunrise on screen. Quick look on twitter, and it seems that a lot of American’s are blaming the Chinese government and arguing that in China’s effort to become a superpower they went ahead and forgo important issues such as human rights and environment.
There are some issues that I think needs to be addressed about how China is handling its pollutions:
WWF recently released their Feb 2014 report on China’s Renewable Power and its future impacts and to say that the Chinese government is not doing anything is to speak of the stars in space without ever using a telescope. In 2012, it was China who invested the most in the solar and wind renewable energy infrastructure. China is leading the world in the renewable industry. It is a major player in the hydro power industry. Even with all that faults the media is putting on China, in 2012, China’s greenhouse gas pollution per capita was still lower than that of the US, lower than that of the European countries.
History books have shown that the path of US becoming superpower is similar to that of China’s current path. The creation of EPA was not a spur of genius idea. It is not like someone went and plan ahead and through the process of risk analysis proposed that the US government needs a department to protect the people and the environment’s health. No. The creation of EPA was a reflection of how bad the environment, how bad the people’s health were in the country.
Now, WWF’s report suggest that at the earliest, China can rid of its coal power by 2040. The recent explosion of renewables in China is at a rate that is unseen in the rest of the world. The determination of the Chinese government is firm. The Chinese government recognized that pollution is the biggest enemy in its economic development. And it is not just the Chinese government, the population is also aware of the situation and from schools to informational groups, the population is making pledges to increase their efficiency in energy use.
So all is looking good, or in theory.