China has major environmental problems, as a new Worldwatch Institute report details. The number one emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, China deals with major pollution. Seven Chinese cities made the list of the top ten most polluted places on earth. Every year, China loses 10 million tons of grain production a year due to pollution.
“In 2005, water in 59 percent of rivers was undrinkable, along with 70 percent of water reserves and inland lakes, and one quarter of all aquifers polluted with more than half of urban aquifers heavily polluted,” according to the report.
The report also chronicles China’s solutions to its environmental problems. One of the solutions China is pursuing is forestation. As the report states, “nourishing these forested areas is vital for sustaining the country’s green transition.”
China depends heavily on coal, and the rapid pace that its people are buying cars means it is also heavily dependent on oil. China is investing and rapidly expanding solar hot water, solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power. They are expected to add 220 million new vehicles between now and 2020, but alternatively fueled vehicles are rapidly expanding. In mid-2010, there were 5,000 alternatively fueled vehicles in China. If the government continues to make developing alternatively fueled vehicles a priority from now until 2020, cumulative production could be 16.7 million, or an average of 1.67 million a year.
China is rapidly expanding its public transportation. China leads the world in high-speed rail (HSR) development. The government’s goal is to have 18,000 kilometers of HSR by 2020. Beijing plans to complete 660 kilometers of urban rail lines by 2015, and build 340 kilometers more from 2016 to 2020.
Chinese carbon caps
A Chinese government official announced that China will soon begin a campaign to limit the amount of GHG emissions by certain industries, China Daily reports. Sun Zhen, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, said regional cap-and-trade schemes will be introduced by 2013.
“Throughout the country, we have adopted a plan for reducing releases of carbon: to substantially cut our carbon emissions for each unit of economic output,” Sun told China Daily at a symposium on climate change in Beijing last week.
“But when it comes to actually reducing the emissions of certain business, that calls for limiting the absolute quantity of emissions,” Sun said.
“Setting limits on the absolute amounts of carbon that can be emitted will make it possible to carry out trades of emission credits,” Sun added.
China plans to reduce carbon emissions 40 to 45 percent below its 2005 level for each unit of its GDP by 2020.
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