What is China doing to take care of their Environment?

So far I have looked some of the Envonmental Policies of Australia and India, In this post, I will attempt to share some of what China is doing!

Now as you can imagine, China is the power that we must follow.  They are by far, the Country that is growing the fastest economically.  They have the potential to do so many things in the future, both good and bad.


China is the largest and undoubtedly the most complicated of all the countries in the world.  At 1.3 Billion people they are a force to be reckoned with.  Their per capita carbon dioxide out put is 5.3  tons.  China ranks  #78 in the world.  But as Wiki states for an agricultural country such as India and China, even though they are fairly low per capita in their CO2 emissions,  other green house gases such as methane and nitrous oxide can also be a major factor in affecting climate change. Nevertheless, at 1.3 billion people times 5.3 tons per capita, their estimated annual output is 6.89 billion tons!

Not all Green House Gases are CO2

Wiki says…

“The carbon dioxide emissions of a country are only an indicator of one greenhouse gas. For a more complete idea of how a country influences climate change, gases such as methane and nitrous oxide should be taken into account. This is particularly so in agricultural economies.”

So it really doesn’t take a lot of deduction to realize that with 1.3 billion people, China has a very large Agricultural economy.


Why it is so important for China to control it’s Carbon emissions.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation believes that based on the  pace with which China is constructing new coal burning power plants that by the year 2035 they will add the total emissions measured in the U.S. in 2009!  Their thirst for power is nearly unquenchable.  In 2009, many reporting organizations say China was constructing 2 coal burning power plants a week.

Click to access 2011-inducing-innovation.pdf


A recent Energy Post article updates the latest information on what China is doing to stabilize their Greenhouse Gas emissions…

In an interview with Professor Ye Qi, Brussels Correspondent for Energy Post, Sonja van Renssen, notes that “China – and indeed: the world – will not be able to stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions for at least ten years, and probably even longer.”

“Professor Qi explains that China has a very effective “energy savings” programme for heavy industries and cities, based on fixed targets. He also notes that China has been the largest investor in cleantech and renewables for the last five years.”

The important thing to note here, is that China is well aware of it’s impact on Climate Change and has taken a positive approach to dealing with it through the investment in cleantech and renewables.  If only the United States would do the same!


Chinese ships line up for cheap coal off Australian Port

Chinese ships line up for cheap coal off Australian Port

China’s electrical generation is controlled by the State Grid Corporation of China

This corporation has been listed as the 7th largest in the world. This group has been responsible for re-organizing the companies that are responsible for the generation of power in China.


As far as the Coal Burning portion of Electrical Generation goes, China relies on coal more than the U.S.

The People’s Republic of China is the largest consumer of coal in the world,[1] and is about to become the largest user of coal-derived electricity, generating 1.95 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, or 68.7% of its electricity from coal as of 2006 (compared to 1.99 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, or 49% for the US).[2][3] Hydroelectric power supplied another 20.7% of China’s electricity needs in 2006.


The World Coal Association in the UK says that there are 2300 (7000 individual units) Coal Burning Power Plants worldwide and China has 620 of them.

That’s a lot of Coal burning plants!  Oh wait, if they were building two a week, then there might be another 100 or so since the date of that report. The key is how many more will need to be built to supply China with the power needed to guide their future growth?

Two links to the WCA are below.  The second link gives the Coal Burning Power Plant emission standards for all countries.



Massive Coal Burning Power Plant in Pinghu

Massive Coal Burning Power Plant in Pinghu

Coal Burning Power Plants are found mostly in the rural Northern areas of China, they are causing a new issue!

An unanticipated problem has come from these plants.  Water scarcity!   The recent article in the Scientific American from March of 2013 states the following… “A report published today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes that the top five Chinese power generators — China Huaneng Group, China Datang Corp., China Huadian Corp., China Guodian Corp. and China Power Investment Corp. — have hundreds of gigawatts of coal-fired power plants in the country’s dry north and that retrofitting them with water-efficient solutions could cost billions of dollars.”

The Chinese power companies recognize the issue however to fix it may cause other issues besides cost.  The report goes on to say… “And replacing coal-fired power plants’ once-through cooling systems with water-saving solutions like air-cooled systems will decrease the plants’ thermal efficiency and as a result increase greenhouse gas emissions…”

Water that could be used for crops and people is going up in steam.

What alternatives will they need to come up with to solve this issue?


So what are China’s Policies?

As you can imagine, it is really pretty hard to tell. There are numerous reports on the web what other countries think China’s issues are and how they should be dealt with. There is very little official information that states their concerns. There are two recent occurrences that indicate they are very concerned;

1)  China’s commitment to a 1% reduction in their GDP from 8% growth to 7%!

In an on-line interview with the Chinese Premier,  the UK Guardian reports “on an online discussion in 2010, the premier, Wen Jiabao, said China’s 2011-15 economic plan would lower the target for annual GDP growth – “to raise the quality and efficiency of economic growth”.

He said: “We absolutely cannot again sacrifice the environment as the cost for high-speed growth, to have blind development, and in that way to create over-capacity and put greater pressure on the environment and resources. That economic development is unsustainable.”

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao

For the full article from the Guardian go to the following link;



2) China is seriously considering implementing a Carbon Tax!

As the Washington Post article from February 2013 suggests China is looking at a Carbon Tax.  It will be small to start with and details still need to be worked out, however of all the large CO2 emitting countries (Russia, Canada, U.S. etc.) in the world, they are at least beginning the dialogue.


Whats New!

A recent article in the Sustainability Newletter (April 2014) by John Mathews and Hao Tan is showing that China is thinking about renewable energy sources more and more.  Read what they have to say in the following link!


Stay Tuned


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Carbon Dioxide, China, Climate Change, Environment, Environmental Policies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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