While it is still the most polluting country in the world, China is moving towards a green revolution.
Pollution has become a serious problem for China
When Deng Xiaoping decided to make China become a global industrial powerhouse in 1980, the country had no choice but to rely on coal. A few years later, China finally became the world’s leading industrial and economic power. However, this development happened to the detriment of the environment and the health of the Chinese. Today, they are no longer afraid to openly express their anger to the government. It was previously considered unpatriotic to complain about pollution. But after several years of daily suffering and seeing the situation getting worst and worst, residents are now requiring the government to do something about it. Indeed, after killing several million people, pollution has become more than a serious problem for China. As the world’s most polluting country, producing more than 28% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, China has realized the importance and the seriousness of the situation.
Pollution awareness: A major political turning point
2013 was the year of the first major political turning point when Xi Jinping launched a series of reforms to reduce the use of coal. Those ones have been so effective that the country has ever had to import it, pushing coal prices upon the world market. While the United States withdrew from the Paris agreement, China proves its determination in its fight against pollution. It has been verified through the cancellation of new thermal power plant projects, the drastic reduction of coal mines, strengthened control of polluting factories, the construction of a “green city“, a reforestation campaign, and so on.
A green revolution to come?
As a result of the awareness of this frightening truth, China has taken a significant turn. By investing heavily in renewable energies, the country has a good chance of meeting the commitments made during COP21 regarding its greenhouse gas emission rate. Today, more than 20% of China’s electricity production comes from renewable energy sources: wind, solar, biomass, or hydropower. However, the immensity of the territory remains a problem for a maximized economic return of these green energies. But since the ecologist associations have been authorized, they have multiplied and made the population aware of the seriousness of the situation. That’s why more than 90% of the Chinese population is willing to pay slightly more expensive bills, as long as the electricity comes from renewable energy.
There has been a re-urbanization of large cities following this “green” trend. Especially in Beijing, where no one has forgotten the 2013’s peak pollution record. The authorities have since taken drastic measures. Like the introduction of a “lucky draw” for driving licenses granted to the Pekingese to limit road traffic and gas emission. So basically, even if they pass their driving test, they are not guaranteed to be able to drive right after. A draw is conducted each year to determine the lucky ones. They might have to wait several years. Once they finally have their driving license, they are only allowed to drive on special days of the week (determined by their license plate number). The only way to ensure driving without constraints is to invest in an electric car. Sales of cars and electric scooters have therefore increased significantly in China, for the sake of the environment (and that of car sellers). An increase of more than 106% growth per year has been evaluated in this sector.
A new Green Technology take place in China
Beijing, Shenzhen, Nanjing, and many others have also installed electric buses. As practical for the environment as it is for reducing heavy traffic in large cities, this initiative is largely supported by the government. Electric vehicles should soon be extended to private services (companies, tour operators, etc), and should, therefore, experience a big boom in the coming years. However, the question of the short duration of the battery and charging is still a problem.
Even though it will take several years of effort to reach a truly healthy situation for China and its inhabitants, the country is in a good way. The commitment of the state to this issue is transparent and consistent. The most polluting country in the world is also the most committed one in the pollution fight, which is a good sign for the future. The government is particularly interested in investing in new “green” technologies. All innovative and environmentally friendly companies, therefore, have a huge market to conquer in China in the years to come. Cooperation with European companies has already taken place (EDF and Areva for example).
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