Cut Carbon Emissions in China

Target: Chinese President Xi Jinping

Goal: Applaud initial steps toward pollution reduction, and encourage China to implement an ambitious carbon emissions cap proposal

China, widely regarded as the world’s leader in CO2 emissions, has a notoriously poor environmental track record. The enormous, rapidly-growing nation accounts for nearly half the world’s coal use, with repeated record-breaking Air Quality Index measures reported over the last six months. The New York Times noted on January 12 of this year – with an Air Quality reading of 755 – that “all of Beijing looked like an airport smokers’ lounge.” It’s worth noting that the Air Quality Index runs on a scale from 0-500, yet Beijing has repeatedly broken the upper bound, going enormously “Beyond Index” in EPA vernacular. (The Environmental Protection Agency established particle pollution regulations and the Air Quality Index in 1971, assuredly without foreknowledge of the current environmental and health crisis facing China.)

Chinese municipal and national government leaders repeatedly dismissed criticisms during the worst of the hazardous air conditions while also balking at calls to release more comprehensive air quality data publicly. Nevertheless, as ThinkProgress and The Guardian reported this week, China may be turning a corner. Shenzhen, a major southern Chinese trading city, is set to implement a new carbon trading problem. This program is the first of seven “pilot programs” in various major cities and industrial provinces, with full implementation expected by 2014. Much more ambitiously, China’s 21st Century Business Herald also reported that China might be weighing an all-out cap on carbon emissions, slated to go into effect by 2016.

Despite a lurid record, China has an exceptional opportunity to reverse course and prevent additional environmental and human health deterioration. Applaud these ongoing efforts and encourage Chinese President Xi Jinping to push for a responsible, authoritative cap on carbon emissions.


Dear President Xi Jinping,

As the world’s leading industrial polluter, China receives enormous criticism domestically and globally for inaction over rapidly rising CO2 emissions. Your government’s recent efforts to implement a carbon trading program, however, mark an important first step toward addressing unsustainable environmental and public health concerns.

We, the undersigned, are urging you to fully implement this smart proposal, as well as the recently-reported CO2 emissions cap proposal still under consideration. Together, these two programs would radically alter China’s standing as a global economic leader and, hopefully, encourage your allies, trading partners, and other export-led economies to follow your lead. A globally sustainable, environmentally-sound future is simply impossible without you.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit: 大杨 via Flickr

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