Poor air quality
Poor air quality is always a big issue in China, as any visitor who has endured a Beijing smog can attest. So it came as no real surprise when there were over 200 million views of the documentary “Under the Dome” by Chinese investigative journalist Chai Jing. Nor did it come as any surprise that the documentary, about the catastrophic effects of air pollution, was quickly taken down by the authorities. What did come as a surprise was that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced his government would redouble its efforts to tackle environmental problems. He even “declared war” on pollution. Then we learned that in Beijing, where pollution in 2014 averaged more than twice the level set as a national standard, the last of four major coal-fired power plants will close next year.
How superior we felt in Europe. “Ah, the Chinese have finally woken up to reality” we told ourselves. “We are way ahead of them”.
Well, not necessarily. Europe is in absolutely no position to occupy the moral high ground here. Because, in my view, the claim to be in the vanguard of the march to a clean, renewable energy-driven future does not bear close examination. We may say we want innovation and industrial output to account for 20 per cent of our GDP by 2020. But in the energy market the European Commission is protecting outdated incumbents rather than welcoming innovation. We may say we want to lead the world in renewable technology. But China – yes, China - is currently set to build more renewable energy capacity than the EU, the US and Japan all put together.
Add last sentence after Japan all put together. Find out more about our work on the Sara Bronfman Medium page.