China's Economic Growth

China's Economic Growth

28 April, 2017
Can growth be sustainable?
China’s Troublesome Industries Continue To Contribute To Its Environmental Woes In 2017

Every country in the world pays attention to China as the world’s second largest consumer market, with a population of over 1 billion people and a middle class that is growing quickly. One thing that cannot be ignored is the environmental cost that its fast economic growth has had on the country.

An article from the New York Times in 2007 said, “No country in history has ever emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of wealth to undo.” (Source) Both the United Kingdom and the United States went through their own periods of economic boom, which left a significant environmental cost that is still being managed today, despite the last of the major industrial boom occurring over 50 years ago.

Scaling processes through innovation is great for improving processes, production and overall GDP, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of the environment. China has experienced rapid economic growth over the past 20 years and has had a few positive environmental impacts, however they have created several environmental challenges. China must respond swiftly to curb irreparable environmental damage that would impact the nation’s economic performance as well as the overall health of its citizens.

China can start by doing the following.
Implement more sustainable measures when it comes to power generation and consumption.
China’s major pollution problem is smog and air pollution, which is caused by the numerous coal-fired power plants operating around the country. Currently, China has over 2,300 coal-fired power plants and there are rumors of the number being expanded to 2,400.

China needs to curb coal-fired expansion efforts and replace these power plants with more renewable energy solutions such as wind farms. The renewable energy sector has been growing at a faster pace than the fossil fuel energy sector for a while and earlier this year, the Chinese government pledged to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020. It’s promising, but the question that lingers is “Will it be enough to make a noticeable difference?”

An alternative solution is to implement the use of energy efficient technology into China's infrastructure so as to curb energy demands. State sponsored incentives, which can rollout or incentivize China's citizens to upgrade or retrofit properties with LED lights, can also reduce the average property’s energy consumption by at least 40%

Additionally, educating its citizens on the importance of investing in energy-conserving consumer electronics will help to reduce energy demand from China’s power suppliers over the long-term.

Implementing measures that halts China’s e-waste and landfill issues.
China is dumping more electronic waste per year than any other country in the world. Millions of tons of televisions, computer screens, used ink cartridges, refrigerators and other electronic equipment gets dumped in landfill sites across China every year. Conservative estimates would say that 1kg of electronic waste gets sent to landfill every year. But with China having a 1 billion person population, a billion tons worth of electronic waste is a massive concern.

The city that’s been the most affected is the Chinese city of Guiyu. The pollution from e-waste has contaminated the land and the city’s water supply. Fresh water has to be imported from other cities and the health and life expectancy of its citizens has diminished. The city is beyond repair.

Should the rest of China continue down its path with the treatment of e-waste, the same outcome will occur.

China must work closely with electronic manufacturers so that there is a system in place where they can return, recycle or reapply the materials from the disposed electronic products. It needs to be a circular model in order to prevent the masses of waste being accumulated at landfill sites.

2017 could be the year that will see China bring about change, although it needs to be done quickly. China is in a race against time with their diminishing resources.

About the author:

Stephen Marshall is an avid business writer and traveller, working through a variety of digital marketing agencies across Australia and abroad. Stephen is dedicated to providing readers with an up-to-date insight of the business landscape wherever he can; constantly on the lookout for new sources of inspiration wherever he finds himself.

By: Stephen Marshall


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