The Chinese government’s efforts to control air pollution seem to be getting significant backing from the general public, or at least from the residents of Beijing. An annual survey conducted by the Beijing Environmental Publicity Center and Tsinghua University showed that about 50 percent of the people surveyed were in favour of an environmental tax to control air pollution in the city.
Over 80 percent of the residents surveyed stated that they were concerned about the environment, with air and water quality among their biggest concerns. Emissions from vehicles and coal-fired power plants are seen as the biggest sources of air pollution.
The Chinese government has taken several measures to reduce air pollution, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in general. China had set a voluntary target to reduce carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. By the end of 2013, China had already cut the carbon intensity by 28.5 percent, or equivalent to 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. China has seven operational emissions trading schemes in as many jurisdictions, and is looking to implement a national-level emissions trading scheme before the end of this decade.
Cities and provinces are also taking proactive measures to control emission sources and reduce air pollution. Companies are also responding positively to the market-linked initiatives implemented by the city’s government to reduce GHG emissions. Of the 490 companies covered under the first compliance year of the emissions trading scheme, only five failed to meet their obligations.
Last month, Beijing announced that use of highly polluting fuels will be completely banned in the inner six districts of the city by 2020, while the outer ten districts will be required to reduce the use of these fuels by 80 percent. This plan will see share of coal in the city’s energy supplies fall to less than 10 percent.
The Beijing government has also announced financial incentives for coal-based power plants to switch to natural gas. Power plants will be offered up to 100,000 Yuan ($16,200 US) to make the fuel switch. The Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission also cancelled some proposed coal-fired power plants to reign in on the coal consumption.
Image Credit: Bobak (CC BY-SA 2.5 license)
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