China shuts down tens of thousands of factories in crackdown on pollution

Staff writers, AFP / OCTOBER 25, 2017

CHINA has shut down tens of thousands of its factories in an unprecedented crackdown on pollution.

Across the country, whole industrial regions are being temporarily closed as environmental inspectors do their work and blues skies return.

For decades China has struggled to combat the pollution that has choked great swathes of the country. However these latest moves could be an indication the Communist government is finally getting serious about environmental laws.

Inspectors are handing out daily fines and in some cases the worst offenders are getting thrown in jail.

According to reports, over the past year China’s Ministry of Environment has dispatched inspectors to 30 provinces where officials in 80,000 factories have been hit with infractions.

Huge parts of eastern China have been affected and some companies have moved their supply chains to nearby Bangladesh and India.

The Chinese crackdown has been likened to the environmental shift in the US after the Clean Water Act was enacted.

The shutdown could lead to an increase in prices for Christmas goods in countries such as Australian and the US, due to the extent of the shutdowns.

Last year China unveiled a five-year plan to tighten its air pollution targets.

Until recently experts had claimed China’s legislation was much improved but its enforcement was weak.

The country is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases but the ruling party has in recent years made moves to reduce the production of steel and coal-fired electricity.

In Beijing, one of the cities worst hit by pollution and at times ground zero of China’s ‘airpocalypse’, authorities can issue a ‘red alert’, their highest possible warning, during the worst pollution levels.

That warning results in school, factory and construction site closures and orders half of private cars from the roads.

During the alerts, cars are only permitted to drive on alternate days. The day depends on whether the car’s number plate ends in an odd or even number.

POLLUTION ‘KILLS MILLIONS’

But those enforcing the crackdown will need to be in it for the long haul.

The counts of PM2.5 — harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs — reached 115 in Beijing last week, according to readings from the US embassy. Read more…

 

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