Greenpeace and the growth of environmentalism in China – Part 3/3

In another post at, we learned that Greenpeace activists went undercover in China up to a year to infiltrate and investigate factories that were releasing hazardous chemicals into China’s waterways.

Greenpeace said, “Two weeks after we released our report, Puma came out with its promise to eliminate toxic substances from its supply chain. When we heard that, we were overjoyed. Since then Adidas, H&M, Nike and Li-Ning have all followed suit.”

Climate Voices from China

“More than 3,500 environmental organizations now have legal status in China,” Andrew Grant said. “While activists there are not as vocal as their counterparts in Europe or the United States, they have made an impact by encouraging transparency and pressuring local governments and industries to adhere to (China’s) new national regulations.

“Through a program called the Green Choice Alliance, environmental groups publish lists of companies in violation of environmental regulations and offer to conduct a third-party audit if a company chooses to clean up its act.

“Last year, under the supervision of environmental groups, independent auditors found that Fuguo’s Shanghai leather factory had rectified its major violations and reduced gas emissions.”

Yangtze River, China

“The local and national Chinese press has been very aggressive in uncovering environmental problems and mobilizing forces to go after polluters. Local newspapers have broken stories about cancer villages, which have been picked up by television networks and broadcast nationwide. In some cases, the revelations have been praised by government officials. In other cases the revelations have been embarrassing or hurt investments by officials, and the sources of the stories have been harassed or jailed.” Source: Andrew Grant, Discover magazine, March 18, 2011

Return to Greenpeace and the growth of environmentalism in China – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note from Blog Post — This post is iLook China’s fifteen-hundredth (1,500) post, and with it this Blog will be cutting back from posting daily to two or more days a week. The next post (1,501) will appear March 12.

2 Responses to Greenpeace and the growth of environmentalism in China – Part 3/3

  1. merlin says:

    It’s too bad there is not a rewards program for those businesses that push for greener ways of operation.

    Doesn’t the US have something like tax breaks for green business? Although, doesnt that also mean the rich business owner would pay less tax?

    2nd vid is good. The factory kinda looks like the one down south end of town on the Mississippi river. The older guy has the same scar I do going across my left shoulder blade and side (of course mine was staph infection in my lung). It’s interesting to see some similarities between my hometown and some place in China. Although, here we kinda know not to fish in the Mississippi. As grandpa used to say, “There’s poop in that river and you want to catch and eat a fish there?”

    Its’ too bad the Green Alliance doesnt publish those lists and advertise them. If we can promote some political character most average people dont know, and install him/her as president of the US…why cant the Green Alliance do the same? It’d be a non-violent action that embarrasses the company and urges them to change in order to save their public reputation.

    • Merlin,

      What I learned while researching this three post series on Green Peace in China is that China passed some strict environmental laws several years ago and most of the nation’s industries ignored them and went on with business as usual. Since China is often the butt of bad media outside China and often times faces a harsh back lash from its own people through micro blogging, I suspect the central government decided to deal with China’s environmental problems by enlisting outside NGO’s such as Green Peace to uncover acts of pollution in industry and then generate support for the environmental laws through the state media so the people would apply pressure on industry until it was acceptable for Beijing to step in and enforce the environmental laws as crimes.

      In the West, we pass laws and have government agencies enforce them in addition to lawyers in the private sector that specialize in class action law suits that bring about changes in industry. What worked for America/West to clean up the environment probably wouldn’t work in China due to China being examined under a microscope for every single perceived flaw while in the West/America any criticism of government is usually old news and soon forgotten.

      Therefore, what works in America/West may not work in China while what works in China may not work in America/West.

      In addition, I’ve learned that there are only a few countries that are seriously working to do something about environmental pollution: America, Australia and China are three—and China is a relative newcomer to the environmental clean-up club. However, America didn’t clean up the air overnight and job still isn’t done. The first act to clean up the air was to enforce strict laws to cut back on pollution from cars and trucks and that dates back to the first catalytic converters.
      The first production of the catalytic converter was in 1973—thirty-eight years ago and still America is working to bring about cleaner air, but the auto industry fights tooth and nail to slow up this progress by using lobbyists in the state capitals and in Washington D.C. often extending deadlines.

      The first modern environmental legislation in China was in 1979. In 1989, that law was revised. In 1997, certain environmental offenses were elevated to offenses treated as a crime becoming part of the criminal code of China.

      For example, in June 2008, the entire country of China was prohibited from giving out free plastic shopping bags. China has been replacing all of its old, dirtier coal burning power plants with new ones that are more efficient and pollutes much less, while the US has made little to no progress in this area. China’s challenge is the size of its population yet with about five times the people th4e US has, China only pollutes a little more than the United States when we should expect five times the pollution.

      The above link will take you to a chart from the Guardian, which compares CO2 emissions in 2009 between the US and China. China had 7.7 billion tonnes of pollution compared to the US’s 5.4 billion. However, if China’s population was creating the same amount of pollution that Americans do, it should have been much higher.

      The US population is about 313 million while China’s is more than 1.3 billion, which means China’s C02 emissions should have been more than 22.6 billion tonnes.

      This link above will take you to a chart that lists countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita (for each person). The US is in 12th place with 17.5 tonnes of CO2 per person in 2008. While China is # 78 on the list with a per capita of 5.3 tonnes.

      Using this data, if each Chinese citizen produced as much CO2 as each American, China would be producing more than 300% the total the United States currently produces instead of 30%. The evidence suggests China is doing something right and by 2020, hopefully, we will see dramatic results with cleaner air and water.

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