China is the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases. It is due to their population of over a Billion people and incredible economic growth over the past decade. Much like the United States in its early industrial days, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has decided to prioritize development over a stable environmental policy.
Indeed, one of the reasons China has a manufacturing edge over the United States is that nothing practically prevents them from simply dumping hazardous materials that are the byproduct of complex manufacturing processes. While the CCP has gained a measure of efficiency with this approach, the trade-off has increased their citizens’ mortality.
According to the Lancet, Exposure to pollutants is the fourth-largest cause of deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) in 2017, with some estimates as high as 30 million people (about the population of Texas) having died from pollution since 2000. These trends will only accelerate at the same pace as China’s economic growth.
This situation brings a sense of irony to China’s Xi Jinping’s recent statement that was trying to achieve low carbon goals should not interfere with the Chinese citizen’s everyday life. China is on the right track if he means being constantly bombarded by hazardous chemicals that result in illness, congenital disabilities, and death by ordinary life.
Regardless of your stance on climate change, it is not in a debate that China (and India, for that matter) must participate vigorously in any mitigation efforts, given that they are the world’s largest polluters. Look at this chart which only shows one vector of pollution, coal power plants.
If burning coal at breakneck speeds were an Olympic Sport, China would be crushing the rest of the world with zero competition.
The CCP has the dual problem of trying to feed its population and keep pace with its citizens’ demands for a rising standard of living. Self-imposed environmental restrictions would destabilize these efforts, and with it, the regime itself. Do not expect China to go green any time soon.