Air pollution: Two steps backward, one step forward

Business & Technology

With seemingly contradictory headlines appearing on the same day, recent events are representative of China’s mixed record on climate issues:

  • China recently scaled back a proposal to ban transporting bulk commodities in trucks, which are more polluting than alternative measures such as rail and water transport, according to Caixin (paywall). The change reportedly came after pushback from industry players regarding price and logistics.
  • China also backed out of a UN deal to decrease aviation emissions, Reuters reports. It is not clear why China left the deal, which would have required airlines to “limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.”
  • On the positive side, China recently published the 2018 to 2020 Pollution Action Plan, which aims to decrease coal, coke, and aluminum consumption while increasing electric vehicle sales, Reuters reports.
  • Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong and Henan will be required to cut coal consumption by 10 percent over the 2016 to 2020 period, while the Yangtze delta region will have to cut coal use by 5 percent over the period.”
  • In other environmental news, water shortages in Si County of Anhui Province have gotten so bad that officials are rationing water by the hour, Sixth Tone reports. One resident recounts, “Sometimes there is no water for 10 days straight.”