China announces new spending to combat pollution

Published on Author howe

The central government announced today that it will spend $16 billion over the next three years to battle pollution in Beijing. The plan calls for upgrades to sewage treatment centers, new garbage disposal plants, and measures to improve air and water quality. Though almost all major cities in China face severe pollution problems, in Beijing the problem is particuraly bad. This new plan is a positive step forward, and shows that the government is committed to cleaning up its cities.

Pollution in China poses a couple of serious long term consequences. As such a large nation, China’s impact on global pollution is significant. Without a serious effort to curb green house gas emissions, Chinese will continue to be a major driver of global warming.

Secondly, the long term health consequences for the Chinese are serious. Years of drinking tainted water and breathing in dirty air has the potential to cause many health problems. Not only does this lower quality of life, but also results in high costs of healthcare in the future. High healthcare costs would have the potential to slow the Chinese economy.–sector.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UapvlVRrGsAX1HQtDMD

6 Responses to China announces new spending to combat pollution

  1. It’s not surprising the government tool relatively quick and decisive action after what happened earlier this year. I’m curious as to how the $16 billion will be used. I imagine efforts will be concentrated within Beijing, but, given the nature of air and water pollution, the government will have to target point sources outside of the city as well like coal-fired power plants.

  2. In 2007 the World Bank released a report entitled “Cost of Pollution in China- Economic Estimates of Physical Damage.” The report concluded that the combined health and non-health cost of air and water pollution is about $US100 billion/year. The report also found that about 750,000 people die prematurely due to the pollution in large cities. 16 of the 20 most polluted cities are found in China and starting with Beijing is a great step. Clearly the statistics on pollution are not small and the issue needs to be dealt with quickly. Spending $16 billion over the next three years is small in comparison to the cost of pollution in China.

  3. Good point Julia, I am not sure we can even begin to estimate the global costs of China’s pollution problem. As we saw earlier this year, even the United States is dealing with the externalities of China’s smog issues.

  4. Just read a thing on Yahoo that 1.2 million Chinese died in 2010 from causes directly linked to air pollution. This accounts for over 1/3 of deaths in the entire world that are related to air pollution.

  5. Spending this money effectively is key. Some issues (sewage) are local and it’s easy to identify what you need to do.

    Air pollution however may be less local in that the quality of gasoline and the presence / absense of catalytic converters isn’t a Beijing-specific issue. Think of old trucks with low-quality (high sulfur) diesel fuel. Will Beijing subsidize new refineries and the replacement of old vehicles?

    Then there is coal heat (see the scenes in the film Together) and power plants and chemical plants and … In some cases the government may be able to enforce edicts to shut down, but the track record of keeping plants shut and seeing that new ones don’t come in isn’t good. Air pollution also travels, acid rain in particular.

    So approaching this as a Beijing-specific problem with Beijing-specific measures doesn’t strike me as effective, though it could serve as a pilot project for testing what does and what doesn’t work prior to expanding to the whole country.

  6. Like Courtney, I wonder how the $16 billion will be spent to lower the pollution rates since it is clear that pollution must be decreased over the next few years given the health costs involved. Is there any way to measure the amount of growth in health insurance costs compared to increases in pollution? However, it surprises me that the government is only targeting Beijing given Professor Smitka’s comments regarding the greater effects of air pollution. Though the government is making strides to combat pollution, are the citizens making the same commitment? My worry is that since there is a continual pattern of corruption in Chinese society to evade government stipulations, that the same will happen as the government strives to lower pollution.