Crass commercialism, conspicuous consumption,Wasting Natural Resources and Poor Air Safety Standard are the main causes.
The environmental crisis stems largely from China’s rampant and unique economic growth, with the rapid pace of industrialization, the reliance on coal power and the huge growth in car ownership all playing a role.
A chart by the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) from the European Commission estimates that in 2011 China produced 9.7 million kilotons of carbon dioxide, nearly double the U.S.’ 5.42 million kilotons.
If the Chinese cement industry alone was a country, it would be the sixth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, producing 820,00 kilotons, according to EDGAR.
While Beijing has made some progress in recent years in controlling emissions within the city limits, whatever happens in all of the neighboring provinces affects the capital.
These provinces — including Tianjin, Hebei, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi — are still developing rapidly, with more factories, more power pants, more vehicles and more coal burning, and it’s making the government’s efforts to clean up that much harder.”
“Over the past weekend, poor meteorological conditions contributed to a severe accumulation of air pollution in Beijing and hundreds of other cities in northern and eastern China. The extreme pollution was the worst in recent memory, yielding hundreds of media reports both within China and around the world. In addition, tens of millions took to Twitter and China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo, to post their thoughts and complaints. Unfortunately, such extreme pollution accumulation episodes are common in Beijing. And even when meteorological conditions are good, average pollution levels in Beijing are still unacceptably high. Until China takes critical steps towards reducing emissions, poor average air quality and occasional “crazy bad” episodes will continue.
Vehicles are a critical source to control. Vehicles are typically by far the largest source of human exposure to air pollution in densely packed urban areas. Plus, the contribution of vehicle emissions to air pollution in China is increasing as the population of motor vehicles in Beijing and around China continues to grow rapidly. Implementing stringent controls to mitigate the pollution impacts of China’s motor vehicles must be a key priority in parallel with controlling other sources such as factories and power plants.
Moreover, such action needs to take place at the national level. Because vehicles (especially trucks and long-distance buses) travel in and out of cities, only stringent national-level regulations can ensure that all vehicles are controlled effectively no matter where they travel. In recent years, Beijing has made a series of impressive steps towards controlling pollution within its own boundaries (e.g. the most stringent vehicle standards in the country, the cleanest fuel quality standards in the country, scrapping >500,000 old polluting vehicles over the past two years, and more). However, the city still struggles to improve air quality because perhaps 34%-70% of Beijing’s pollution is regional, coming from dirty vehicles and industrial sources polluting in the surrounding provinces.
Short-term actions to control motor vehicle emissions in China. Two simple steps could make a huge and near-term difference in improving air quality in Beijing and throughout China, while simultaneously demonstrating the new Chinese government’s commitment to reducing pollution emissions:
- Immediately issue new fuel quality standards with supporting fiscal policies to reduce nationwide diesel sulfur levels to below 10 parts-per-million (ppm). Because high sulfur levels in fuel can poison advanced emission control technologies, improving fuel quality, especially reducing sulfur levels, is a critical prerequisite to introducing more stringent vehicle tailpipe emission standards. In 2011, China’s State Council announced that preferential fiscal policies would be utilized to encourage the supply of higher quality fuels nationwide. However, these fiscal policies have not yet been issued; a new fuel quality standard is stalled in the review phase; and nationwide diesel fuel sulfur levelscontinue to stagnate at unacceptable levels of 350ppm or higher. Resolving the fuel quality issue is a critical step to facilitate continued progress in vehicle emission control in China.
- Ensure that the China IV truck and bus emission standards are implemented this year without further delays. China’s next stage nationwide tailpipe emission standard for trucks and buses, called “China IV” (equivalent to “Euro IV“), aims to cut emissions of PM and NOx from diesel vehicles by 30% and 80%, respectively. However, because these vehicles need to be fueled with higher quality fuel which is not yet supplied nationwide, MEP has twice delayed the introduction of these standards across China. The current implementation date is July 1, 2013. In parallel with resolving the fuel quality issue, China should commit to introducing these standards without any additional delays….
India Air Pollution.
“The rapid growth in coal use in China and India, where pollution controls are minimal, is adding to local and long-distance pollution. More than 80 percent of Chinese cities in a recent World Bank survey had sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide emissions above the World Health Organization’s threshold.
Scientists have concluded that growing up in a city with polluted air is about as harmful to a person’s health as growing up with a parent who smokes. Although air pollution is concentrated in cities, it can move well beyond them: for example, acidic lakes in Scandinavia have been linked to pollution from factories in the United States. The World Bank projected that on average 1.8 million people would die prematurely each year between 2001 and 2020 because of air pollution.”