Illustrating the severity of China’s current problems, Mr. Zhu Junbo, a Shanghai representative to China’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference has recommended the government issuing protective face masks to residents of Shanghai, a city of over 23 million. The Daily Telegraph reports that air quality in Shanghai has deteriorated since 2012, and there are days when when cars are restricted from driving and schools are closed if smog levels are excessive.
Mr Zhu recognizes that face masks are not the solution to the problem, saying “We need to treat the haze at the source. We have noticed that Shanghai’s government and the central government have adopted many methods [to tackle pollution], but it may take time to bring about fundamental change.”
Apparently Shanghai’s pollution is not as bad as that in Beijing. The blame for the environmental crisis lies with the rapid expansion of industry in China, where increases in the construction of coal power plants and factories for heavy industries are growing at rapid rates to keep up with economic growth that has taken place in the country over the last few decades.
From the Telegraph article:
In an interview with the state-run China Daily, Shen Xiaoyue, a senior official from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, warned: “The situation is too serious to allow further delays. After 30 years of fast-track economic development since the 1980s the environmental damage that’s resulted from the GDP-centred policy has become all too apparent,” added Ms Shen, who is director of the ministry’s policy research centre.
This makes all the more interesting the information we heard about the visit Tom Darden, CEO of Cherokee Investment Partners, and Chairman of Industrial Heat LLC, to meet with Chinese officials in Baoding lately. If the E-Cat can be developed to a stage where it can begin to replace coal as a source of heat in power plants, and in other industries, there looks to be a market in China that is ready and eager for a cleaner power alternative. China is investing heavily in wind and solar power, but it would seem that the E-Cat is much more suitable for industrial settings than more conventional alternatives, and if it can be disseminated widely and rapidly it could have a more immediate impact on pollution levels.
For Chinese government officials, it seems that pollution is not just a public health concern. Shen Xiaoyu (quoted above) noted that “environmental issues have the potential to not only erode government credibility but also to threaten social stability.”