Commend China for Reducing Its Dependency on Coal

Target: State Council of China

Goal: Applaud China’s efforts to reduce its dependency on coal for power and to clean up air pollution

As a country of over 1.3 billion people, still caught in the middle of their own industrial revolution, China is the world’s biggest polluter. Although it’s easy to criticize the country for its massive share of damage to our environment, China does not often receive enough credit for the proactive measures it has enacted in recent years. Following just after the government’s recent pledge to commit $275 billion over the next five years to improving air quality, China’s State Council announced this week that it is banning the construction of coal-fired plants around three of the country’s largest cities.  Commend China for the important steps it is taking to clean up pollution and protect its environment.

In a few short decades, China has transformed itself into an industrialized, economic power; the country is now using its amazing capacity for rapid change to combat pollution. Its most recent measure bans the construction of coal plants near the major industrial centers of Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai– some of the very places that need protection from pollution most. Air pollution in the capitol city, Beijing, is atrocious. Grey skies and smog are an almost daily fixture, and the concentration of minute particles congesting the air is often so dense as to be acutely toxic. Nevertheless, the pollution in surrounding Hebei province is measurably worse. Researchers estimate that air quality in some cities is so poor that it shortens the lifespan of many citizens by an average of 10 years.

The Chinese people are some of the most environmentally aware on the planet, in part because the situation is so dire. Luckily, the government of China has made environmental clean up and protection one of its central policies. Joined with the recent ban is China’s aim to reduce coal’s portion of energy production to less than 65% within the next four years. By 2017, China is determined to reduce air pollution in Beijing by 25% as well as by 10% in cities nationally. It hopes to raise the share of energy from non-fossil fuels to 13%, a rate comparable to that in the U.S., and then to 20% by 2020.

These improvements may appear small, unless we remember that China wants to achieve all these goals in just five years. Most developed nations couldn’t hope for such rapid improvement in so short a span. China, however, is uniquely capable, in part because of absolute necessity, but also because of citizens’ demand and the country’s centralized system of government. Thanks to emerging technology, and rapid measures to improve energy efficiency (in China, a little money goes a long way in improving energy standards), the Chinese government may be able to clean its environment at an unprecedented pace.

The country still has a long way to go, but there is a bright future behind its clouds of smog. The government’s measures to decrease dependency on coal is just one of the many important steps it is taking. Applaud China’s efforts to clean up pollution and protect the environment.


Dear State Council of China,

I applaud your recent ban on the construction of coal-fired plants in three major industrial regions. I am also impressed by your commitment to spend $275 billion cleaning up air pollution around your country. The Chinese people will thank you, alongside the rest of the world. Everybody knows that air pollution knows no borders. With over 1.3 billion people, China is the largest country by population and set to become the largest industrial economy. Your policy on the environment will have major consequences for Earth as a whole.

While I hope you will also continue to reduce water and soil pollution, I am pleased to know that China is doing its part to reduce fossil fuel emissions and air contaminants. If all the world’s nations combined are to prevent global temperatures from rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we must reduce our carbon dioxide emission by 700 billion tonnes before 2050. China is contributing a huge portion of the world’s carbon emissions and will need to greatly reduce its output if we are to make any progress towards this goal.

In the rest of the century to come, what happens in China will have the greatest impact on the global climate. Thank you for your commitment to clean up our environment and for your efforts to reduce pollution. I hope that you will continue with initiative.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: sheilaz413 via Flickr

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