Earlier this week, Chinese officials announced they are offering a total of 10 billion renminbi, or $1.65 billion, this year to cities and regions that make “significant progress” in air pollution control.
The announcement of the financial incentives revealed how difficult it has been for some leaders in Beijing to get Chinese companies and government officials to comply with environmental regulations.
One example is the state-owned oil companies that have an enormous amount of influence on environmental policy, including setting fuel standards and even ignoring orders from officials to upgrade their products.
This week, Chinese news organizations reported that the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences had deemed Beijing to be “almost unfavorable for human living.” In the same study, Beijing ranked second worst of 40 world cities in environmental conditions, with Shanghai at fifth worst.
In the State Council announcement, it was said that nationwide coal consumption must be controlled, more vehicles need to run on high-quality gasoline, energy use in the construction industry needs to be lowered and that cleaner boilers should be used.
Most of Chinese energy use is based on coal, which also contributes to greenhouse gases and global warming. China has now surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is the biggest coal consumer in the world.
Despite previous efforts, the US Embassy’s air monitor in Beijing still rates the air as hazardous day after day and the familiar haze hangs over the city. This incentive will hopefully push companies and cities into better awareness for clean air.