Pollution and climate change

Air pollution from a chemical factory in Hefei, China
Chemical factory in Hefei, China

New industries bring higher paid jobs and more money but they can also bring pollution. Many of the cities in China are amongst the most polluted in the world due to factory smoke or car exhaust fumes.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, traffic was banned from the city to ensure the air was clean enough for athletes to compete. Air pollution levels in China's four largest cities currently exceed the World Health Organization's (WHO) safe limits. There are fears over the long-term impact of pollution on the population's health.

In October 2021, at least 15 people died in heavy rain and flooding in the northern province of Shanxi. These floods forced more than 120,000 people to relocate to safer places and left thousands of homes destroyed.

Government Minister, Premier Li, said in May 2015 that China must "fight pollution with all its might". Cleaning up the country was to become a priority for China. Several coal-fired power stations which hugely pollute the atmosphere are set to close, billions are to be spent on improving air quality and there is to be a crackdown on polluters.

During the COP26 summit in Glasgow, China did not sign up to the deal that would help reduce the use of coal in the country. They did not sign up to reduce methane emissions. However, they did agree to help end deforestation and China and the USA agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade.

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