China, The world’s factory is facing a serious environmental threat due to pollution. It is now the world’s biggest emitter of green house gases. The environmental deterioration occurred as a side effect of its rapid economic growth.
Last year, China had closed China Datang Corp.’s power plant, one of the four major coal-fired power plants in Beijing. In the mid of this month It has closed another two plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co.. As Bloomberg reports,Beijing will close China Huaneng Group Corp.’s 845 MW power plant in 2016, based on a statement given in the city’s economic planning agency’s website. Closing these four main coal based power plants will hopefully show a significant reduction in the smog levels in atmosphere.
These closed plants will be replaced by Gas-fired power plants with a capacity to produce 2.6 times more power than their coal counterparts. Though the gas plants also generate CO2 , their emissions will be lesser than those of a coal plant.
In the light of the recent banning of the documentary Under the Dome – which talks about China’s apocalypse – by the China Government, this closure of coal plants catches attention. The film was watched by over 200 million viewers before it was officially removed off net. According to that video, China burned 3.6 billion tons of coal in 2013. An analyst, Tian Miao from North Square Blue Oak Ltd. said that by shutting down the four coal plants, Beijing reduces the annual coal use by 9.2 million metric tons and cuts nearly 30 million tons of carbon emissions. At a press conference in last July, Song Yuanming, vice chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, stated that China planned to shut more than 2000 smaller coal mines by the end of this year.
In Beijing, along with the coal plants, manufacturing industries, 5 million plus cars and other motor vehicles also contribute heavily to the city’s pollution. Economic times reports according to a statement given by Beijing’s environmental protection bureau late on Monday, that Beijing is going to limit its motorists on heavily polluted days and “they will be limited to driving on alternate days when the city announces a “red alert”, forecasting heavy pollution-which means the air quality index crosses 200- for three days.”
According to Chinese scientists, the toxic air pollution resembles a nuclear winter. Due to higher concentrations of Particulate Matter 2.5 – with an average of 85.9 micro-grams per cubic meter last year, compared with China’s national standard of 35 – the amount of light falling directly on the plants reduces. Thus it slows down the photosynthesis in plants and affects the country’s food supply. PM 2.5 – officially recognized as carcinogen last year- is the primary factor which increased the lung cancer in China.
In this fight against pollution and other environmental catastrophes, China is taking massive steps by investing billions in wind farms, solar, nuclear and hydroelectric powers and is shifting its focus towards renewable energy sources. Beijing plans to reduce annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017. Hope these green measures saves China and the rest of the world.