China’s Goals to clean Dirty Coal

America’s Congress passed its Clean Air Act in 1970 because of dense, visible smog in many U.S. cities and industrial centers.  The U.S. has emitted over 90 billion metric tons of carbon since 1800 from fossil-fuel consumption and cement production. U.S. fossil-fuel emissions have doubled since the 1950s but the U.S. share of global emissions has declined from 44% to 19% over the same interval because of higher growth rates in other countries. Source:

China’s Clean Air Act was first introduced in 1987. For an example of China’s progress, in 2006, Greenpeace was consulted by the CCP on an early draft of a renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress. Today—seven years later—China is the world’s leader in the production of renewable energy—in 2011, China produced 797.4 billion annual kilowatt-hours from alternative sources of energy production [hydroelectricity, wind power, biomass and solar] compared to the United States in second place with 699.3 billion.

While China’s air pollution problems may sound extreme and incomparable to air quality here in the U.S., we should not forget that America actually did face a very similar environmental situation during its industrialization. Source: Think

Bill Chameides writes in the Huffington Post about China’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.  He goes into detail how the Chinese plan to accomplish this.

Since 70% of China’s electricity comes from thousands of coal burning power plants, Chameides expresses doubts that China will be able to meet these lofty goals.  However, I disagree.  When you discover the downside of China’s coal burning power plants, it is obvious there is no choice but to clean up.

China’s one-party system has demonstrated the ability to get things done quickly and mistakes are made but so are course corrections.  I witnessed China’s ability to get things done in Shanghai. We were staying in what was once the French concession. The stately mansions that had housed wealthy French families and their Chinese servants had been converted to communal multi-family homes still surrounded by high walls.  When we went to sleep, the walls were there. In the morning, they were gone. 

An army of workers arrived at night, took down the walls and trucked out the debris without making enough noise to wake people.

Although I disagree with Chameides conclusion, his piece is worth reading. And we should not lose sight of the fact that China’s population represents 19% of the earth’s total compared to 4.5% for the U.S. In addition, China’s average per capita CO2 emissions in 2011 was 7.2 tonnes per capita (per person) compared to 17.2 tonnes in America—one of the largest in the world. Imagine how many tons of CO2 the US would pollute the environment with if it had China’s population. Source: PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. 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.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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8 Responses to China’s Goals to clean Dirty Coal

  1. Hong says:

    Not going to be easy. With 1.3 billion people who all want to live like the Americans do.

    • True. China’s middle class seems to all want to own cars and live in luxury similar to America’s middle class and that middle class in China now outnumbers the entire US population.

  2. tonja says:

    Why read newspapers when everything is on net?

    • This is a tricky one. We cannot rely on newspapers or the net for our information because both can be biased and wrong. Even though the media is owned by HUGE corporations and is often biased and misleading or incomplete in its reporting of the news, the Internet may often be worse. When reading about a hot-button issue like abortion, public education, gun control, gay marriage, etc., lazy people who only believe what they want and go no further than one or two [what’s known as secondary] sources are often led to believe lies that are driven by private sector for profit; political and religious agendas that in the end are not only bad for most people but dangerous to any freedoms we still enjoy.

  3. China’s Goals to clean Dirty Coal (

  4. Gomes says:

    Wow, this article is good, my sister is analyzing this topic, therefore I am going to inform her.

  5. Teepee12 says:

    London in the 1700s was invisible under the smog. This is not a recent problem. If you live in a city — ANY city — the air is probably bad.

    • And imagine the unsafe water in rivers and lakes that cities were built next to back before we started to build plants that cleaned the water. Before those water purification plants, everything went into the rivers and lakes that we washed our clothes in, drank from, brushed our teeth with. Yuk! Even today, the water that comes from the tap has so many chemicals in it from pesticide run off and to kill off dangerous bacteria that it’s unsafe to drink and cook with.

      I’ve read that city public schools—especially built near freeway—have more kids suffering from asthma than kids who go to rural schools that are not near a freeway. I lived in Los Angeles County most of my life and suffered from wheezing on the worst air days but since moving to the SF Bay Area, I haven’t had one wheeze day in more than eight years.

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