Quantcast

China Just Shut Down Thousands of Factories to Fight Pollution

Popular
Beijing, China. Kentaro IEMOTO / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

In an unprecedented crackdown on pollution, the Chinese government has temporarily shut down tens of thousands of factories in an effort to improve air quality throughout industrial regions in the country.

Thousands of regulators with China's Ministry of Environment have spread across the country to inspect factories for compliance with strict new laws detailing emission standards. Electricity and gas lines to factories will be suspended until officials can determine whether or not each facility is following the law.


Many migrant workers were forced to abandon these factories and look for other work, though the Chinese Premier promised in April that while the closures would mean setbacks, the government would work to transfer these employees instead of laying them off.

In 2013, China established a bold plan to measurably improve air conditions by the end of 2017, a deadline whose looming approach has led to drastic measures geared towards hitting those targets at all costs.

These factory closures are occurring alongside large-scale moratoriums on coal use and steel production, which are two of the biggest contributors to air pollution in China's industrial regions. In August, the northern Hebei province announced that these shutdowns would remain in place from October of this year through next March. Air pollution typically spikes during this time, typically referred to as "heating season."

China is no stranger to dangerous levels of pollution. In 2013 the nation suffered from what was later dubbed "airpocalypse," a day where air pollution levels were up to 30 times higher than what is considered healthy by the World health Organization. The Guardian reported that one hospital admitted more than 900 children for respiratory ailments that day, which many saw as a wake-up call to the damaging consequences of China's growth-first development strategy.

China's rapid industrialization has come with a fair amount of environmental and social setbacks. As the manufacturing industry grew in China, so too did pollution.

Additionally, income inequality in the country has proliferated as a result of the disparity of opportunity between urban communities and rural communities, which lack access to the economic gains of the industry.

Though urban centers produce the lion's share of pollution across the country, the consequences of such devastation are not limited to wealthier city residents. Both urban and rural Chinese suffer at the hands of industrial pollution, and in both areas, it is the poorest residents who are worst affected.

Global Citizen campaigns on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goals three, 10 and 13: good health and well-being, reduced inequalities and climate action. You can take action on these issues here.

The recent halt on industrial operations across China are one of several signs that the government is serious about tackling the problem of pollution.

Since the crackdown began, more than $130 million dollars worth of fines have been levied against 18,000 companies who failed to meet the stricter environmental regulations. This may be a consequence of putting enforcement powers in the hands of taxation agencies, who have typically been more aggressive than the Ministry of Environment in enforcing regulations.

"The implementation will be totally different," Shanghai environmental lawyer Peter Corne told NPR. "It won't be the environmental bureau that's implementing anymore. They'll just be monitoring. It will be the tax bureau that's implementing it."

In addition to the fines on business, government officials in cities who failed to meet pollution reduction milestones have been fired en masse. All of these measures point to a dramatic shift in the way the government battles pollution.

"This is better than a 100-percent pay raise for me," said Corne. "I was just dreaming about it. I never thought it would come true."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Claire L. Jarvis

A ruckus over biofuels has been brewing in Iowa.

Read More Show Less
Serena and Venus Williams have been known to follow a vegan diet. Edwin Martinez / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Whitney E. Akers

  • "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.

  • Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.

  • We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.

Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An illegally trafficked tiger skull and pelt. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

By John R. Platt

When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less