China's role is critical in building a green and sustainable future
Updated 14:49, 05-Jun-2019
Rachana Gupta
["china"]
Editor's note: Rachana Gupta is an Indian blogger, poet and a freelance writer based in Shanghai. The article reflects the author's views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.
This year's World Environment Day is being hosted by China in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang Province with the theme of air pollution. This announcement was made in March 2019 during the United Nation's Environmental Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. On this occasion, Joyce Msuya, Acting Head of UN Environment mentioned that China would be a great global host of 2019's World Environment Day.
As China had shown excellent leadership in dealing with air pollution domestically, it could now instigate the world for bigger actions. Air pollution is an urgent issue, affecting everyone. 

China's efforts in environment conservation

It is worth noting that China has already demonstrated its leadership in environmental conservation. Earlier this year, a report released by NASA appreciated China's efforts towards environment conservation.
It highlighted that China, despite occupying just 6.6 percent of the Earth's vegetated area, contributed almost 25 percent of the overall surge in green leaf area. This positive result was achieved by afforestation and farming, which accounted for 42 percent and 32 percent respectively.
An electric at a charging station in Miyun District, Beijing, China, April 20, 2019. /VCG Photo

An electric at a charging station in Miyun District, Beijing, China, April 20, 2019. /VCG Photo

Additionally, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration last year had committed to expanding the afforestation to almost 23 percent of the total land area of the country.
Moreover, China, as a part of the Paris Accord, is committed to reducing by 2030, its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels. According to a report Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 from Germany, in 2017, China spent a massive 279.8 billion U.S. dollars (almost 30 percent more from 2016 figures) on renewable energy.
This amount was almost 50 percent of the world's total renewable energy investment, as per a report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and sustainable energy finance center last year. A similar uptick was also seen in the electric vehicles segment.
In 2018, almost 1.1 million electric vehicles were sold in the Chinese market. This figure was more than 55 percent of all electric vehicles sold worldwide including the U.S. where the corresponding sales were just 358,000.
Over the last few years, the nation has intensified the deployment of clean energies and slimmed down the consumption of coal by eliminating approximately 23,000 coal-fueled small boilers across the country.
Moreover, the output of coal power generators with ultra-low emission had reached over 750 million kilowatts, almost 75 percent of the nation's overall established capacity of coal-fueled production units by the end of the third quarter last year, according to National Energy Administration.
To replace the old coal-fired boiler heating, the new clean heating mode of "air energy + solar energy" is promoted in Rongcheng City, Shandong Province, China, November 24, 2018. /VCG Photo

To replace the old coal-fired boiler heating, the new clean heating mode of "air energy + solar energy" is promoted in Rongcheng City, Shandong Province, China, November 24, 2018. /VCG Photo

The systematic modification of coal power generators brought about an 86 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emanation, 89 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and 85 percent lowering of smoke dust between 2012 and 2017, as per China Electricity Council.
The measures launched by the country in 2018 alone caused a dip of the average density of PM 2.5 by 10.4 percent year over year.

Challenges to be resolved

Looking at the above figures, it is clear that China has been taking all the requisite steps to transform itself into a green economy. However, there are still certain challenges which need to be resolved.
One of the most significant challenges is to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste and to restore the country's arable land and water sources contaminated by hazardous waste and chemicals.
The environment ministry in March last year underscored that out of nine million sources of pollution in China, 7.4 million sources were of industrial waste and the total percentage of such pollutants have risen by a whopping 50 percent in just eight years.
A themed activity named "Beautiful China, I am an actor " launched in Hongqi primary school, Yongchuan District, Chongqing Municipality, June 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

A themed activity named "Beautiful China, I am an actor " launched in Hongqi primary school, Yongchuan District, Chongqing Municipality, June 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Also, the amount of household garbage is proliferating at such a speed which surpasses the capacities of landfills and incinerators to accommodate it. Therefore, to deal with this issue, the Chinese authorities have initiated a garbage sorting program in all major cities of the country.
The urgency of this situation was also reflected in a recent speech from Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which he urged the citizens of the country to cultivate the habit of garbage classification.
The president stressed that efforts would be carried out to comprehensively educate and guide the masses about the importance and need for garbage sorting. This would allow more people to take action, create better living conditions and contribute to more sustainable development.
Moving ahead, as per a data revealed by WHO in May last year, almost nine out of 10 people breathe air with high levels of pollutants in it, worldwide. The estimate further unveiled that a whopping seven million deaths are caused every year because of outdoor and indoor air pollution, out of which 90 percent of deaths occur in low and middle-income nations mostly in Asia and Africa.
Looking at the frightening effects of global warming on the planet's ecosystem, it becomes mandatory for human society to make relentless efforts towards conserving the environment.
While the U.S. has already backed down from its Paris Agreement stating that this would result in job losses and would hamper American economy, it is imperative that China, as world's second largest and a responsible nation, leads the world towards a greener and more sustainable future.
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