China affirms environmental commitment as pollution study sounds alarm

19th CPC National Congress

China affirms environmental commitment as pollution study sounds alarm

A new medical study is offering an alarming look at the deadly effects of pollution across the world. As the U.S. moves away from the Paris Climate Accord and its global commitments, China is taking an entirely different approach.

CGTN’s Sean Callebs reports.

Each year, pollution kills 9 million people, the equivalent of the entire city of Bogota, Columbia. That’s the finding in a new report published in the Lancet medical journal.

Recognizing more needs to be done to combat the pollution problem in China, Xi Jinping outlined his vision for a cleaner nation during his address to the Communist Party Congress.

“We have been leading in international cooperation in coping with climate change, becoming an important contributor and leader in the building of the global ecological civilization,” Xi said.

This becomes even more important, considering that the study in the Lancet medical journal shows an overwhelming percentage of the nine million people killed come from poorer nations.

In late 2015, Xi and then U.S. President Barack Obama received much of the credit for pushing through the historic Paris Climate Agreement, designed to reduce greenhouse gases to limit global warming.

Now, however, U.S. President Trump says the plan is just blowing smoke.

“The United States will cease implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord, and the draconian financial and economic burdens.”

China remains committed to the accord, in part because the nation’s rapidly growing middle class wants cleaner air in Beijing and other major cities.

While China is the world’s number one emitter of greenhouse gases, Xi praised efforts to turn the corner toward a brighter future.

“The whole country has strengthened the building of an ecological civilization,” he said.

Among the country’s efforts:

  • The shuttering of thousands of factories failing emission targets
  • Billions spent on solar power and other renewable energy
  • And progress on a timetable to phase out vehicles that run on gas and diesel fuel.

Trump claims the Paris deal “hamstrings” the U.S. while empowering some of the world’s most polluting countries. But history shows the United States has overwhelmingly pumped more carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air than any other nation. As the country grew, factories developed, cars filled the roads, and homes and businesses were air conditioned.

Most climate scientists and researchers agree that without a coordinated global effort, it could prove impossible to slow climate change and offer a breath of fresh air to nations suffering from overwhelming pollution.

Paul Bledsoe discusses China’s green steps to protect the environment

China is touting major improvements to its environment and announcing the expansion of “green” programs. One highlight is the reduction of harmful pollutant PM 2.5 by more than 30 percent in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. The announcement came on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress. Paul Bledsoe, president of Bledsoe & Associates, joins CGTN’s Asieh Namdar to discuss both the successes and challenges China’s government faces with regards to the environment.