China Shuts Down 40% Of Its Factories In Its Fight Against Pollution
China is currently in the midst of a massive, nationwide crackdown, shutting down factories that don’t meet the emissions standards required to curb the effects of climate change. Over the past several weeks, over 80,000 factories have been charged with criminal offences for breaching the emission limits required. These constitute roughly 40% of all the factories in China.
This months-long campaign coincides with the country’s government announcement of cutting down on the concentration of hazardous particle matter in the atmosphere, known as PM2.5. This particle matter is one of the main causes for the formation of smog. The plan is to cut down this concentration from 47 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016 to 35 by 2035.
“It will be very difficult to reach the goal, and we need to make greater efforts to achieve it,” environmental protection minister Li Ganjie said at an event on Monday.
China’s program to aggressively tackle domestic pollution stems back to 2013 when the country announced it’s 10-step plant to clean up the country’s air – which also includes the reduction in emissions from heavily polluting industries by up to 30% by the end of this year, 2017.
And to help keep its promises, China has massively ramped up its factory and power plant inspections – in order to make sure that these keep in line with the statements.
“[B]asically, you’re seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections,” supply chain consultant Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR.“They’re instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail.”
This move on the government’s part could affect its industrial output. But the benefits could be immense. Not only will parts of the country be able to enjoy clear blue skies once again, these measures will also imply cleaner water, as well as other ecological benefits. Let’s not forget, o course, a breathable atmosphere.
“For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said deputy director of the Communist Party’s Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Yang Weimin, told The New York Times.“Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”
In previous years, the country has enforced closures of several factories throughout China, but only for several weeks at a time. But this time, however, things are, as Li calls “unprecedented”.
“These special campaigns are not a one-off, instead it is an exploration of long-term mechanisms,” Li announced this week. “They have proven effective so we will continue with these measures.”
“It’s a huge event. It’s a serious event. I think many of us here believe it will become the new normal,” exporter Michael Crotty from China-based MKT & Associates told NPR. “The consumers of China don’t want red and blue rivers. They don’t want to see grey skies every day.”