China’s emissions might be high on the global environmental agenda, but Shaun Rein from Shanghai remembers the polluted days ahead of the country’s economic boom and seem room for optimismm although the level of pollution is ten times as high as in New York, he writes in Forbes.
To begin with, the Chinese government recognizes that it has a severe problem and is doing something about it. This is a turnaround from just a few years ago, when the government argued that heavy pollution was a necessary part of economic development, Western countries having gone through it in the Industrial Revolution. The nation’s rulers were more worried about feeding their citizens than about preserving their environment. But today most Chinese citizens have access to adequate food and shelter and are increasingly concerned about pollution’s effect on their health.
Forced by increasing health care costs, the central government has put the environment firmly on the agenda and is spending much of is capital on it, offering great entrepreneurial opportunities. Large industries, like the car makers, use their emergence in China to break with the polluted heritage of the old players.
China’s automobile manufacturers may be the most innovative in the world today. Unburdened by a legacy of factories, unions and gas stations, they are rushing to produce electric cars that are years ahead of anything from Ford Motor ( F – news -people ), General Motors ( GMGMQ.PK – news – people ) or even Toyota ( TM – news – people ). BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett, is selling electric cars that not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions but are stylish too. Its sales have soared 183% this year to more than 200,000 cars.
Look for the boom in electric cars in China to continue as the government adds tax breaks and pushes taxi companies and government fleets to go electric. More than 20 million electric bikes have been sold in the last three years too. The technology is improving at both the low end and the high end.