At the opening of the meeting of China’s National People’s Congress on Wednesday, Prime Minister Li Keqiang pledged to do more to reduce pollution in the country. In Beijing, the smog has become a regular, and regularly hazardous, occurrence.
Ahead of a meeting in Germany next week, Beijing put out a document calling on developed nations to do more. From Reuters:
Beijing also reiterated its past insistence that rich nations cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. That is far deeper than the European Union’s goal of at least 20 percent and a U.S. target of 4 percent.
But China’s plan to curb pollution does not just mean reducing emissions. It also means shifting industrial facilities and power plants to the more rural, western region of the country. As Bloomberg reports, while China’s leadership has planned to shut down 50,000 small, coal-fueled furnaces this year, it is also planning to build up to 70 coal-fired power plants in the west, in addition to 30 coal-to-gas plants. The government also planned to remove six million higher-emission vehicles from use.
Local villagers have protested the plants, hurling charges of discrimination as an implicit aspect for the transition. “Here it’s over 90 percent minorities – Uighurs, Kazakhs,” one villager said. “If there’s pollution they will just say, ’Oh well, there’s pollution.’ If people die they will just say, ’Oh well, people die.’”