China Takes Air Pollution More Seriously: $280 Billion Worth, Supposedly

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We cover China's air pollution problems with depressing frequency on Green Car Reports, but the country's pollution problems have until now been far more than token schemes are able to deal with.

That could change over the next few years, as the Chinese government pledges to invest $283 billion to tackle air pollution.

According to state newspaper The China Daily (via CBC News), the sum will go towards measures aimed at a "visible improvement" in the near-opaque air in many Chinese cities.

Beijing, nearby Tianjin and the Hebei province will be the main benefactors of the investment, equivalent to more than the total economic output of Hong Kong.

Several Chinese cities and locales have launched their own initiatives to curb pollution in recent months. The Hebei province and its capital Shijiazhuang recently introduced a lottery to buy cars in order to reduce the number of vehicles on its roads, while Beijing implemented a pollution tax and pledged to remove the most polluting vehicles from its roads.

The moves follow several months earlier this year of the worst pollution ever recorded, and mounting public frustration with the country's poor air quality.

As a rapidly developing nation, China has poured decades of effort into economic growth, with environmental concerns taking a back seat. That's now changing as several major cities sit cloaked in smog, with water pollution also a major concern.

The problem now is whether that money will truly reach projects aimed at cutting down on pollution, China's local governments not known for their transparency with such issues. How much of China's huge investment benefits the smog-choked people in the streets remains to be seen...

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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Comments (6)
  1. The only beauty of air pollution is that it knows no economic status boundaries. The wealthy business owners children and grandchildren are poisoned about as much as the poor people. There is the incentive to not skim too much off the top when making the investment in cleaner air.

  2. The richer people can afford to buy cleaner water and to filter their air, whereas the poor cannot. It still affects them disproportionately.

  3. Well, at least the rich thinks that way.

    What they can do is to buy better health care.

  4. Cars are only part of the problem in China.

    Industrial and commerical pollution is by far the biggest issue. Typically, local government cares more about developement, tax revenue and employment than quality of air, water and soil. The actions are usually short term and kick the problem can down the road to the next generation of officials. Also, some of the problem impact whoever is down stream.

    China, need a national overhaul to its economic policy and legal system to deal with pollution. They need to understand that pollution generated in 1 day will impact its people for generations (decades to century)...

  5. I really dislike seeing rather ignorant bash-China articles like this one. Especially when most of China's pollution is the result of building products for the US consumers, who cannot afford to buy American made products. If this writer had bothered to check, he wold have learned what China's plans for their energy future really are. China now has the capability to not only build Gen 3 AP1000 type nuclear reactor plants, but fast reactors as well, which consume "nuclear wastes" for energy. China plans to have 500 nuclear plants operational by 2050 and 1600 by the turn of the century. The US cannot possibly match that. In thirty years, I expect to see the Chinese complaining about US emissions. Per capita US emissions are far worse

  6. @Kent: China has issued any number of "plans for their energy future," most of which have not transpired as planned and some of which have been actively sabotaged at various levels of local government to protect their investments in businesses. If China should achieve the plans to which you refer, we'll report on that.

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