China’s air pollution problem

China’s air pollution problem

China is trying to fight back against air pollution – but it also needs to keep its industry alive.

How the coronavirus is delivering more rubbish problems in China
For weeks, streets were empty and shops closed in cities across China as millions of people stayed in to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But for Xu Yuanhong, 35, who runs a garbage-sorting company in Beijing, business has never been better. “When people stay home, they have more time on their hands to produce more rubbish,” said Xu, whose company Ai Fenlei processes about 900 tons of rubbish every day. Since February, when the Chinese capital went into partial lockdown, Ai Fenlei has had to handle 20% more garbage each day than usual, with much of the extra waste packaging from deliveries. With the temporary closure of brick-and-mortar stores and consumers confined to their homes, the c
Coronavirus outbreak inadvertently cut China’s carbon emissions
China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, may have seen its first decline in greenhouse gas emissions in three years as the coronavirus outbreak has shut down much of the country, a new study has found. The study, released on Wednesday by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland, said that coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s carbon emissions by a quarter.  Since mid-January, China has placed cities and towns of tens of millions of people on lockdown to contain the coronavirus. These restrictive policies have resulted in repeated delays in industrial operations and a sharp reduction in energy demand. China accounts for more than one-fourth of the world’s total gree
Beijing’s infamous smog may be a thing of the past
Beijing’s air quality has improved significantly since the start of the “war on pollution” seven years ago, according to official figures. In 2019, the capital’s average concentration of PM2.5 – the most harmful small particles and a key indicator of air pollution – fell to their lowest levels since its air quality monitoring network started operating in 2013. The 2019 average concentration of 42 micrograms per cubic meter was 53% lower than the 2013 figure of 89.5, according to the municipal ecology and environment bureau. The average concentration of PM10 particles and nitrogen dioxide were 68 and 37 micrograms per cubic meter, both in line with national targets. Although some pollution l
China’s war on pollution found to have side effects: more pollution
China’s war on pollution caused air pollution in major cities to shift to less developed regions and led to an overall increase in emissions, a new study has found. Researchers said that while toughened emission rules in urban areas had brought fresher air to the Chinese capital region, air pollution in the rest of China had worsened. From 2012 to 2017, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban region recorded a 34% decrease in hazardous particles known as PM2.5. But the provinces surrounding the area saw an average increase of 5% in the fine particulate matter. Overall, China except the capital region saw a 2.5% increase in PM2.5, the study says. The additional pollution represents an increase of 1.
Inkstone index: Beijing’s (improving) air quality
122nd: Beijing’s ranking among the world’s most polluted cities. That’s according to a report on global air quality in 2018 by AirVisual, a website tracking air pollution levels in more than 3,000 cities. Beijing’s ranking is surprisingly low given its notoriously dirty air, which has made locals’ lives miserable and turned away foreign businesses. Across China, average concentrations of the hazardous particulate matter known as PM2.5 fell 11% in 2018 from 2017, according to the report, which is co-produced by Greenpeace. There’s no way to tell whether Beijing’s ranking went up or down, because this is the first such global report produced by the pollution tracker. But there are signs that
China’s Tesla challenger stalls on Beijing’s swankiest street
The cutting-edge image of Chinese electric car builder Nio was blunted a little after a test drive of one of its smart cars ground to a halt on one of Beijing’s most prestigious addresses, leaving the driver and a Nio rep stuck inside until the vehicle completed a software update. Nio, which markets itself as a challenger to Tesla, confirmed the incident on its Weibo account on Tuesday, claiming the driver “accidentally made a series of operations that activated the system update” during a traffic jam on Changan Avenue. The car “went dark to start an update that lasted more than an hour,” according to a message posted by the Nio employee on social media. The 2.4 mile-long Changan Avenue, wh
China’s pollution battle is literally freezing out its rural poor
This winter has been an especially cold one for Nie Hongwang. In previous years, the 50-year-old villager would stockpile three or four tons of coal to use to heat the family home over the harshest winter months. But that all changed in when his rudimentary central heating system was ripped out and replaced with an environmentally friendly natural gas-powered one, under a government initiative designed to reduce air pollution. While the idea might have worked on paper, for Nie and his fellow villagers in Baoding, in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, the switch has caused nothing but problems. The high cost and unstable supply of the clean fuel have left them freezing in their own homes
China is the undisputed king of electric transport
It’s 9pm when the first buses start arriving at the Shanghai Bashi Public Transportation depot. In the coming two hours, as they finish service around the city’s Baoshan district, almost 300 drivers will bring their vehicles in to be cleaned, maintained and parked for the night. The queue to enter the security gate grows, but the employee in charge of the gas pumps has little to do. He battles boredom with his phone while buses pass by. His future employment prospects look bleaker still. Two hundred and forty of the buses here at the depot are fully electric. It seems likely that, next year, no combustion engines will enter the premises at all. In an effort to curb pollution and noise, China
Inkstone index: coal-fired China
60.4%: how much of China’s total energy consumption is met by coal. Despite China’s massive investment in cleaner energy sources, such as solar power, the country remains heavily reliant on coal.  China’s air pollution is caused in no small part by coal burning, and the occasional smog that blankets cities is a reminder of that. Dirty air in China is responsible for more than 1 million premature deaths each year, according to a study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As a portion of total energy consumption, coal usage in 2017 fell 1.6 percentage points from 2016 to 60.4%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Cleaner energy, including natural gas and renewables, ro
A million deaths: the annual price of China’s dirty air
China’s troubles with air pollution are well known. In the capital of Beijing, a protective face mask is an essential part of the wardrobe.  But air pollution in China is responsible for more than just an inconvenient commute. Pollution from smog-inducing ozone and fine particles may be causing 1.1 million premature deaths and 22 million tons of lost crops each year. A new study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong has tallied up the costs of air pollution attributed to the impact on public health and reduced crop yields. The combined result is the equivalent of shaving an estimated 267 billion yuan ($38 billion) off the Chinese economy annually, researchers said. “This is a fairly large