China’s ambitious plan

Published on Author meleski14

China’s government decided to control air pollution by limiting coal use and taking high-pollution vehicles off of the roads. This seems to be a pretty ambitious act, seeing as China has quite a big population. It makes sense that the government would want to act on this problem. Some of China’s biggest cities are covered in layers of smog and polluted air that can understandably make walking around outside a bit of a negative aspect of life for these people. The article stated that in Beijing, the pollution in the air was over 40 times the exposure limit based on what the World Health Organization sets as the standards. 40 times the exposure limit is no small matter. It’s not like it was 1 or 2 times over the limit, but it sprinted past that line without looking back.

There are two different sides that people are taking in China. Some are saying that the legislation won’t be/isn’t enough. Others are praising the government for realizing the dangers and the importance of having less polluted air. I think that it all depends on how the act is enforced. It could really be a great turning point for the country, seeing as it has some of the worst air pollution in the world. It is going to be difficult to enforce, especially at first because of the mass amount of damage that is already done.

This is important to many businesses in China. Legislation is a huge external factor that affects the many strategies of the business. This new legislation about pollution will make businesses rethink and change the way they do their business. It will cost them more money, time, and labor to make the conditions suitable for the law. These businesses are more about the bottom-line than sustaining their environment; but the new law will make that way of thinking change. It will be interesting to see how Chinese business reacts and does in the next couple of years with the new law, assuming of course that it is enforced properly.

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One Response to China’s ambitious plan

  1. Air pollution is much more than a nuisance: it kills people and it harms agriculture and (via acid rain) infrastructure. Businesses face higher absence rates. However, pollution crosses political boundaries, so improvement requires regional and in many cases national policy.

    So how costly is it to clean up relative to paying hospital bills and reduced on-the-job productivity? The evidence is pretty clear: less than the cost of cleaning things up.

    The issue then devolves into one of government structure and capabilities. While China is no longer an empire that makes no claims to imposing its will on constituents, except in a minimal manner (pay some taxes, don’t rebel too often), it is not a highly centralized state. The incentives for politicians, however, are to bring growth and jobs (and line their own pockets). Vested interests — existing polluters — are more willing to compensate, er, buy off local government: rule changes can shut them down. And shutting down businesses lowers growth rates and promotion possibilities.

    To date Beijing has not been able to do much beyond instituting ineffectual initiatives. Inspectors aren’t always independent of local government, and even if they don’t hold their nose and smell no foul practices, their bosses can shelve their reports or reassign them.

    Now truly local pollution can in fact capture local leader’s attention and be controlled. So we find point-source pollution (a factory spewing crud into a river) is more likely to be addressed when those downstream are in the same political unit – statistically polluting factories are found disproportionately along provincial borders, and there’s a nice case study of an actual locality and why governments intervened in local pollution.


    Duvivier, Chloe and Xiong, Hang (2011). Transboundary Pollution in China: A Study of Location Choice of Polluting Firms in Hebei Province. Clermont, France: CERDI, Universite d’Auvergne. May, Working Paper E 2011.17.

    Tilt, Bryan (2010). The struggle for sustainability in rural China : environmental values and civil society. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Wang, Hua, Mamingi, Nlandu, Laplante, Benoit and Dasgupta, Susmita (2002). Incomplete Enforcement of Pollution Regulation: Bargaining Power of Chinese Factories. Washington, DC: World Bank. January, Working Paper Series 2756.

    Wang, Hua, Shi, Yuyan, Kim, Yoonhee and Kamata, Takuya (2011). Valuing Water Quality Improvement in China: A Case Study of Lake Puzhehei in Yunnan Province. World Bank. August, Policy Research Working Paper 5766.