Is pollution Beijing's worst enemy?!
_ Though China is going green, it is still very hazy around the big cities such as Beijing. The capital city was smothered in thick smog for weeks until a day before the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations (23rd January). If you were to fly over big cities such as Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, say five years ago, you’d never see the ground due to the smog and haze. On my stay last week during the Chinese New Year, the fireworks did not really help to make the situation any better. Beijing authorities started to release hourly account of PM2.5 levels just as year of dragon celebration began, and it just got worse as predicted. PM2.5** are tiny particulates released by car exhausts and factory chimneys that raise the risks of lung diseases, heart problems and dementia.
On the whole, since the Beijing 2008 Olympics, there has been some improvement. However judging from the recent PM figures, it will take a LONG time before we get to see a blue sky on a regular basis.
The good news is that at the start of 2010, around 8.6% of total energy consumption in China was from renewable sources, (it’ll be around 20% within 10-12 years*). The country is also on course to reduce its power consumption by 20% in the five years to the end of 2015. Their initiatives include building high-tech, comparatively cleaner, coal-fired power stations, as well as introducing other alternative technologies such as wind power (and even Nuclear Energy). The latter is on course to be on target for the year 2025 with at least a six-fold increase in increase in electricity from wind power. Until that happens, I think it’s best to wear a face mask as I had to do with during my 4 day stay in the capital (there is no shortage of these).
* Source: China Daily/Xinhuanet
** Source: The UK Guardian
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