China’s New Environment Laws

Pervasive greyness infiltrates the windows. Again. Every morning lately, it’s the same. Rise and shine, look out the window, and it looks something like this

The red 福 character for good fortune, placed upside down on my window, brings some colour into the grey grey view.

Thankfully, there is some legal response. After Beijing’s notoriously high pollutant levels, the  China’s new environment laws, the Environmental Protection Tax Law – designed to strengthen existing laws – was promulgated in December 2016. Companies which emit air, water, or noise pollution will be fined.

Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is exempt. Gasoline and diesel fuels however must comply with new regulations, which are similar to the European standards.

Pollution affects  business and personal lives – flights are delayed or cancelled when the AQI – Air Quality Index- rises to extreme standards. The noxiousness of chemical pollution is in no doubt – it creates a diverse mix of shocking diseases which shortens lives and causes difficulties, often extreme.

To support monitoring greenhouse gases, China has become the third nation to launch a satellite that will monitor CO2 and other emissions from space.

When the streets look like this, however

Photo courtesy of https://phys.org/news/2016-12-tax-co2-emissions-china-environment.html

all you really need to do is step outside to know that the pollution levels are dangerously high.

Some people have had enough. In Beijing, protestors took to the streets. In Chengdu, the capital of normally very green Sichuan province, protestors put air masks on statues.

artists as part of Chengdu environment protests. photo from https://www.artforum.com/news/id=65680

Protestors in Daqing, a city in north-east China, gathered last week to protest about an aluminium plant. One woman collapsed during the protest. From the end of 2016 and into January 2017, Beijing, Tianjin and other northern cities saw the pollution index so high it burst the measuring systems.

Protestors in Tianjin, speaking out against chronic, toxic pollution that chocked northern cities last month.

Let’s hope the new laws help.