Richard Martin, MIT Technology Review, 27 May. 2015


he world is starting to understand that dirty fossil fuel industries need to be cleaned up. At the forefront of this cleanup is China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. China’s consumption makes big cities like Beijing and Shanghai look like a foggy hazard zone, and has destroyed millions of square miles of Chinese land. Not only is China’s pollution bad for the environment, but it reportedly leads to 1.2 million people dying prematurely every year because of pollution-related diseases. Companies, along with the Chinese Government, are starting to succeed in pulling down air pollution from coal plants. Pollution levels fell from 2013 to 2014, according to Greenpeace, and dropped by nearly one-third in the first three months of 2015. Another way to prove that these companies are doing a good job cleaning up is that their business is slowing down. As they reach their goal of clear skies and clean water, it will be difficult for their businesses to profit. Economics should not be an issue, at least from an environmental standpoint. Close to 90% of coal plants in China have general pollution controls common to the west, and total compliance is supposed to equal the US or Europe by 2020. The foggy streets of Beijing or Shanghai might not look anything close to the crisp, refreshing countryside of China not affected by coal, but civilians are starting to breathe a little easier.

Get in deeper:
Watch: The changing face of China’s coal industry

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