Why does Shanghai have so much pollution?

Subject expert
Invest responsibly

October 2017: The Chinese government orders factories and power plants in Hebei Province, an industrial location with 90 million inhabitants, to be closed for several months. By May 2018, according to the order, almost 4,000 of the more than 7,000 local companies should stop their production - because they pollute the air above Hebei too much.

January 2018: A total of 24 different recycling materials can no longer be imported into China with immediate effect, including unsorted plastic waste, old textiles and waste paper. The country's government informs the World Trade Organization that the garbage is too dirty and dangerous.

July 2019: A huge waste separation and recycling campaign starts operations in Shanghai. So far, all waste ended up in one bin - from now on there are four: dry and moist residual waste, hazardous substances and recyclable materials will be disposed of separately in the future. More than 30,000 volunteers explain the new principle to the Shanghai people - and the residents of the metropolis are enthusiastic about it, reports tagesschau.de.

New solutions to old problems

The examples show: China has discovered environmental protection and sustainability for itself - and is resolutely addressing its environmental problems. Awareness of the connection between environmental protection and the common good - nationally and internationally - has increased.

Beijing's interest in sustainable development is no coincidence. The Middle Kingdom has made a huge leap in development over the past few years and has followed the industrialization of the western world at breakneck speed. That left its mark. In metropolises like Beijing there is thick air every day, dark clouds of smog hang over the cities. The water table is sinking, many rivers are contaminated and the habitat for animals and plants is dwindling. In 2017, according to the Global Carbon Atlas platform, China topped the list of the world's biggest climate polluters.

Boom at the expense of the environment

Globalization has also contributed to the sustainability problems that need to be solved now: For years, many Western companies have built their factories in China to save production costs. The trend is now down. Due to the trade conflict with the USA and increased labor costs, more and more companies want to relocate their production again. Chinese companies, on the other hand, are increasingly focusing on future technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence, researching technical innovations instead of just manufacturing products for the consumer goods market of western industrialized countries. The environmental problems caused by the economic boom of the past few years remain.

Still. Because the Chinese are determined to improve their environmental situation and to shape the future of the Chinese economy fundamentally differently. Four years ago, the Chinese government agreed to binding climate protection targets for the first time, ratified the Paris Climate Agreement and wants its CO2- Reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030. The People's Republic's thirteenth five-year plan also provides for China's economy to move from its old growth model onto a more sustainable path. Not only environmental protection measures should contribute to this. China wants to further open its financial markets, eradicate poverty in the country, eliminate corruption and embezzlement and establish new rules for corporate governance. The market for green bonds is also growing noticeably.