China Confronts Air Pollution as Public Pressure Mounts
With public frustration mounting, and the social media platform Weibo serving as a major forum for discussion, the Chinese government is taking serious steps to reduce air pollution levels connected to rapid industrialization and fossil-generated electricity.
“China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection reports that cities across China suffer more than 100 days of extreme haze—when PM2.5 concentrations reach four to five times the acceptable levels—per year,” reports TheCityFix. “Local governments have responded quickly to inform the public about proper protection responses and implement emergency emissions reductions, but public pressure for further action has never been higher.”
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Under the Dome, a 104-minute documentary on the country’s crushing air pollution problem, reached 175 million viewers in a single weekend earlier this year and was initially acknowledged, but subsequently banned, by government authorities.
In 2013, China’s State Council announced plans to reduce air pollution in three large urban areas—Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta—by 25%, 20%, and 15%, respectively. More recently, the government introduced a mix of national strategies and regional action plans, with efforts to curb industrial emissions, manage vehicle emissions, restructure economic and energy activities (including reduced coal consumption in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei), and improve air quality management.
“Whether because of public sentiment, globally influential campaigns like Under the Dome, or the sheer reality of how much air pollution costs China, the government is now taking the issue very seriously,” TheCityFix notes. “Now is the time for the country’s growing civil society sector to keep engaging key stakeholders for continued action and bring forward sustainable solutions that clean the air and improve quality of life.”