In the recent past, China faced a lot of challenges considering environmental crisis and poverty. The government decided to change the situation by increasing the economic activity. As a result, the active production and consumption of goods had a negative effect on the environment. China has problems with the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, energy consumption, as well as pollution of air and water. Therefore, these problems forced the Chinese government to make serious attempts to change the situation and improve the environment. That is why to decrease the level of the environment pollution, there was provided an equipment production that supposed to capture contaminants. Also, economic incentives were actively employed to deal with the results of using energy. Moreover, there is set a tax on high-sulfur coals. The Chinese government has provided some restrictions related to the resources pricing and punishments for people who are violating laws, which are protecting the environment. Moreover, the environmental protection law demands a particular attention as far as it is considered one of the most progressive attempts of the country to harmonize its rapid development and the natural environment. This analysis suggests that environmental policies still need improvements; being the good steps on the way to improving the situation, they still meet numerous challenges. In particular, the major failure of the new law is its focus on the additional pollution prevention, which is a long-term perspective, while it is also necessary to focus on the decrease of the previous harmful effects.
This paper will describe Chinese environmental policy and analyze its impact on poverty, inequality, and development. Finally, it will discuss the existing challenges for the Chinese environmental policy in the country with regard to both strengths and weaknesses of the governmental approach to the issue.
Nowadays, the Chinese economy faces a number of problems including internal inequality and environmental issues that detain it from the further effective development. The country’s government has offered a number of the environment-related policies aimed at preventing and controlling water and air pollution, managing the solid wastes, noise, vibrations, hazardous chemicals, assessing environmental impacts, and dealing with the pollution (Ministry of Environmental Protection, 2016). In June 2002, the country has adopted the Cleaner Production Promotion Law (Chaw, 2013). The law has provided some demonstration programs to regulate pollution in ten major Chinese cities and priority areas (Chaw, 2013). However, even though these areas are the most polluted, he regulations are necessary for the entire territory as well.
Implementation of the new environmental protection law has become the latest and the most widely discussed step in the area of environmental protection. The law was adopted on January 1 and had to become an effective means to harmonize the economic development and the environment (Zhang and Cao, 2016). Among the main issues that this law refers to, one should point out penalties for the environmental offenses of different origins. Hence, it’sgoal is to raise the awareness of people and stop the additional negative contribution to the already polluted areas. According to EPL, law-enforcement agencies and local governments have to become particularly responsible for the possible harm they can bring to the environment (Zhang and Cao, 2016).
Since 2007, energy conservation has also become an important direction of the government (Chaw, 2013). A number of practices were offered to save energy. One should pay a particular attention to the innovation planned by the government. With regard to oil and gasoline transportation’s negative impacts on air, the Chinese government has provided $1.46 billion for the electric cars spread and development (Bradsher, 2009).
Many efforts were taken to improve the technologies that are supposed to help prevent the pollution, solve the problem with the waste of water, and provide the systems, which will monitor the environmental situation (Chow, 2013). Such monitoring is held not only by the international WHO organization but also Chinese SEPA and local agencies.
Nowadays, China has the highest indexes of carbon emissions in the entire world. The air quality in the cities very often fails to meet health standards of the World Health Organization. In addition, the life expectancy in different parts of the country remains quite different. Life expectancy index in Huai River territory is 5.5 years lower than on the southern territories (Albert and Xu, 2016). Such data proves that the adopted policies do not have an immediate influence on people; moreover, air pollution and severe water contamination still remain the parts of the Chinese reality. What is important, such environmental degradation obviously deters the country’s growth and deprives the public of the possibility to have decent conditions for life. Moreover, the failure to control the water contamination creates unequal conditions for the life of people and aggravates the situation in the country. Together with the dissatisfaction among the Chinese, the failure to manage the environmental issues effectively has a negative impact on the overall international image of the country (Albert and Xu, 2016). In such a way, the development of China has got under a threat due to the weak domestic stability and consequently unfavorable attitudes of the wider public to the ruling party.
Some other Chinese policies that contribute to the inequality among the population are related to the electric cars usage. Being twice more expensive than the gasoline cars, they would contribute to unequal possibilities of people in the country and make those who cannot afford it unable to drive or bring more harm to the environment (Bradsher, 2009). Moreover, not only the car usage but also the energy saving demands lead to unequal living conditions among the Chinese.
Factors Facilitating or Hindering Policy Adoption and Implementation
The EPL shows that China is on the right way to solving the problem. The awareness of the citizens and charges for the offenses are the good ways to avoid the worsening of the conditions and improve the situation. The innovative programs that adjust the energy conssumption and provide technological solutions to the wastes reduction are also the effective way to tackle the existing problem. While the population has been quite worried about the government inactivity, the new law has calmed down the worries for a definite period of time (Zhang & Cao, 2015). However, it is still necessary to review a number of the policy-related issues that contribute to human inequality or fail to meet the primary aim.
The weakness of electric car related policy is predetermined by the grant provided by the government for the policy development. In comparison to the US that has given $25 billion (almost 20 times more) for the innovative projects, the financial resources in China are not enough to ensure electric cars availability and their consequent usefulness (Bradsher, 2009). However, potentially, the idea is quite essential and deserves further development. Therefore, it is necessary to review the idea and make these cars more available. While income inequality in the country is quite high and 157 million of rural inhabitants live on less than 1.25 USD per day, it is desirable to improve the financial abilities of the citizens (UNDP, 2014).
Zhang and Cao (2015) compared the Chinese legislation to the American one to point out the weaknesses of the EPL. Among such, the obligations and liabilities of the agencies are evaluated as the basic demands that are aimed to keep the existing level of pollution or reduce it. Instead, China has to focus on more decisive actions that would clean the air, water, and soil. Only afterwards, the supportive laws will become effective and provide the long-term orientation for the well-protected environment.
In addition, the governance in the country is very fragmented. While the actions of some agencies like the local agricultural, water and air control ministries are regulated by this law, National Development Commission does not depend on it (Zhang and Cao, 2015). As a result, the environment-related policies not always correspond to the main demands of the country development indexes. Hence, there should be created a common organ for the country’s environment and development supervision. Moreover, the law fails to provide people with the environment, which would be suitable for life. With regard to the fact that it is not appropriate on the current stage, no one protects the citizens or provides a decent compensation for the consequent problems with health or decreased life expectancy.
To sum it up, the Chinese government cannot be blamed for the full inactivity in the sphere of the environmental protection. The electric cars development, protection laws and policies related to pollution reduction deserve attention and can be evaluated as the positive steps on the way to improve the situation in the country. However, the country lacks the solid organization of the connection between the development indexes changes and pollution decrease. The environment-related laws are appropriate to struggle with the existing challenges and put the country on the right path. However, they fail to provide the social balance and are aimed at avoiding the future pollution rather than reducing the existing remains of the industrial production.