Air pollution has become a serious environmental problem around the world, especially in China. In the past, air pollutants usually came from natural disasters, such as volcano eruption. Now, however, most of the air pollutants are generated by human activities, especially from the industrial process. Therefore, it is safe to say that air pollution is a by-product of industrialization. Since industrialization is inter-linked with globalization, many blamed globalization as the primary reason for air pollution.
Since I am interested in how globalization could affect a developing country¡¯s air quality, I immediately thought of China as a great example to be investigated. China has the world second largest gross domestic product (GDP); in the meantime, it is still a developing country. I expect that the efforts China has put into development would make China a representative country capable of demonstrating the effect globalization has on a country¡¯s air quality.
This research is mainly based on literature searches. I reviewed and collected information from research papers done by other researchers on the topics of China, globalization, air pollution and environment issues etc. I also made reference to newspaper articles and media websites concerning China¡¯s development on environmental protection. The information was collected from the works of both Chinese and foreign authors in order to avoid biases as much as possible.
China¡¯s air quality has deteriorated due to economic growth resulting from Globalization. However, in the long-term, the Chinese government has acknowledged the problem and is trying its best to give its citizens a healthy living environment by making national plans, working with non-governmental environmental organizations, and signing international agreements.
In 2012, China became the largest contributor to carbon emissions, about 25 percent of the global total. As illustrated in figure 1, China¡¯s carbon emission experienced a drastic increase around the year 2002. It is worth to notice that on 11 December 2001, China joined the WTO, World Trade Organization. China started to speed up its industrialization ever since, and earned its name as ¡°the world¡¯s factory¡±.
China certainly deserves this title. The number of factories in China is unbelievable. In 2004, China has 1,375,263 factories and increased this number to 2,801,143 in 2016. The most dominant type of factories in China is heavy-industry factories, which composes almost 60 percent of the total factories.
With the recognition of the air pollution problem, the Chinese government continues to develop and add policies regarding air pollutions in various governmental plans. In the ¡°12th Five-Year Plan¡± period, 2011-2016, China promised to ¡°[intensified] the control of industrial smoke and dust, [facilitated] of dust removal facilities of coal-fueled power plants and cement plants¡± (The State Council of People¡¯s Republic of China, 2011). As the result, CO2 in China has been decreased by 33.8% by the end of 2016.
In the next Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), the Chinese government made three critical improvements to its air quality protection policies. First, a new fine penalty system was added: it will accumulate for each day the pollution violations continue. Second, a performance assessment system was reformed based on an official's environmental protection record. Third, the Chinese government started to allow non-governmental organizations (NGO) to ¡°take legal action against polluters on behalf of the public interest¡± (Finamore, 2016).
Internationally, China ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement on September 3, 2016. The signing of the Paris Agreement meant that China¡¯s progress in improving the environment would be monitored by the rest of the world.
Although globalization has brought terrible air pollution to China, China did take every possible action it could take to save the environment.
The improvements China did in its new Five-Year Plan demonstrated that China was serious in solving air pollution problem. The amendments are, no doubts, all essential and effective changes, especially the one concerning NGOs. NGOs in China achieved little for many years compared to NGOs in foreign countries because the Chinese government was not taking NGOs serious. The attitude dissatisfied the general public, and now the Chinese government is trying to respond to its people. What the Chinese government is doing domestically is to show a soft power to the Chinese citizens. The government tries to improve its public impression in the country; it wants to present itself as a government who is trustworthy, cares for its people, and willing to accept criticisms.
China also aims to exert its soft power internationally. By signing the Paris Agreement, China gives the whole world an impression that China cares a lot about the environment: Chinese do not only cares about the growth of GDP and the process of globalization; they also wanted to be the pioneer in environmental protection.
Globalization influences China¡¯s air quality in a negative way. Undoubtedly, the deterioration of pollution is the trade-off of rapid economic growth. In China today, ¡°air pollution kills an estimated 1.1 million people a year¡± (Gardiner, 2017).
China still has a long way to go in fighting air pollution; it is a long-term war. Since China already showed its deep earnest on air pollution problems, we have reasons to believe that China will do better and better in improving air quality in the future.
Chinese Government. ¡°中国经济普查年鉴2016.¡± National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2016
Finamore, Barbara. ¡°Tackling Pollution in China's 13th Five Year Plan: Emphasis on Enforcement.¡± NRDC, 21 Dec. 2016
Foley, Katherine Ellen. ¡°Every Country Has Terrible Air Pollution, but These Are the World's Worst.¡± Quartz, Quartz, 28 Sept. 2016
Liu, Jiangguo. ¡°China¡¯s environment and globalization: Unexpected connections.¡± Jan 2009
Liu, Zhu. ¡°China's Carbon Emissions Report 2015.¡± Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, May 2015
Phillips, Tom. ¡°China Ratifies Paris Climate Change Agreement Ahead of G20.¡± The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Sept. 2016
The State Council of People¡¯s Republic of China. ¡°Circular of the State Council on Printing Out and Distribution of the National ¡®12th Five-Year Plan¡± for Environmental Protection.¡¯¡± 15 December 2011
¡°What Is Air Pollution | Environmental Pollution Centers.¡± Pollution Guide, Environmental Pollution Centers, 2017
Lawrence Academy 开学十二年级