The world beware: China is exporting its pollution!

Whilst China can be praised on the one hand for making such improvements as this one (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/dec/12/silence-shenzhen-world-first-electric-bus-fleet) in the city of Shenzhen, it can be criticised on the other for increasing its funding of coal-fired power stations outside its own borders (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/china-is-massively-betting-on-coal-outside-its-shores–even-as-investment-falls-globally.html)

Coal-fired power plants: their true cost to the environment and the tacit support of the EPA

Coal power plant in China

Coal has long been a reliable source of American energy, but it comes with tremendous costs because it is incredibly dirty. The same chemistry that enables coal to produce energy—the breaking down of carbon molecules—also produces a number of profoundly harmful environmental impacts and pollutants that harm public health. Air pollution and global warming are two of the most serious.

Link: https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/coal-air-pollution#.XBCn5GhKjIU

And the EPA is tacitly supporting Trump’s “I dig coal” policies by rolling back emission standards on coal plants.  EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist before taking up his current role, recently announced a new rule that will allow coal-fired power plants to emit more than 35 percent more global warming pollution than the current law allows.

Link: https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1120360_epa-rolls-back-emissions-standards-on-coal-plants

‘It’s the only way forward’: Madrid bans polluting vehicles from city centre

From Friday, only vehicles producing zero emissions will be allowed to drive freely in downtown Madrid – making it a pollution pioneer in Europe.

This is a hugely significant step forward and will perhaps be emanated by other European capitals.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/nov/30/its-the-only-way-forward-madrid-bans-polluting-vehicles-from-city-centre

Crackdown on Europe’s polluters

The European Commission is taking Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania to the EU Court of Justice for failing to respect air quality limits.

The move follows a summit in January in which the Commission said it would get tough on member states that were still in breach of targets.

The European Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said it was the Commission’s responsibility to ensure people could breathe clean air.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has the power to impose multimillion euro fines if the countries do not address the problem swiftly.

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Reality Check: Is Beijing’s air quality better this winter? / 现实检查:北京今年冬天空气质量好吗?

People in face masks walk through a smoggy Beijing street

The claim: The Chinese government says that Beijing’s air quality improved sharply in the winter of 2017.

Reality Check verdict: The air quality this winter has been better – but whether or not this is sustainable in the long term is still unclear.

Beijing is infamous for its pollution – and normally the onset of winter sees it choked in an even thicker smog than usual, as the heating is switched on across the Chinese capital.

But at the end of 2017, the opposite seems to have happened – the government said the air quality actually improved. A recent article on the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s website even heralded “a new reality” for Beijing residents.

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Home of ‘biggest indoor rainforest’ to create oasis in Chinese city / 在“中国最大的室内雨林之乡”创造绿洲

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Krakow’s smog crisis / Krakowski kryzys smogowy

 

The WHO has ranked air pollution as one of top 10 preventable causes of death. In fact it has predicted that by 2020 there will be 8 million deaths per year due to air pollutants. Yet the air quality in Krakow has devolved to the point where it is often worse than in cities infamous for their smog, like Beijing and Los Angeles.

The air has major health implications for everyone, but especially for vulnerable populations like those with asthma and other chronic diseases. Moreover, the air is especially important for children as they not only play outside but also have developing lungs. As a result of this air, each child in the city is at a higher risk of developing asthma. Particulate pollution, a kind of pollutant made of small particles is especially present in Krakow, has even been found to increase the chance of lung cancer. Apart from the lungs, heart health is directly related to air pollution, as air pollution has been found to contribute to cardiovascular disease and strokes.

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Krakow’s Air Quality Among the Worst in the World / Jakość powietrza w Krakowie wśród najgorszych na świecie

It is impossible not to notice the thick smogs that periodically blanket Krakow, or to wonder what they are doing to your lungs, but even on seemingly clear days the city’s air is among the most polluted in Europe with levels of contaminants frequently exceeding World Health Organisation safe limits.

Krakow is now firmly established as one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, attracting 15.8 million visitors in 2013. Multinational companies are flocking here, as are young people unable to find jobs elsewhere in Europe. How long before awareness of the city’s poor air quality begins to make the city unattractive, threatening its economic health as well as the health of the people who live here?

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