Air pollution

Selected articles

A selection of recent articles on world-wide air pollution

NRC Handelsblad 15-07-2006 - China is a very densely populated country, where history is mainly controlled by agricultural development. However, currently extensive industrial growth occurs at an unusual rate, causing massive increases in air pollution affecting Japan and the United States. Air pollution now is a much more serious problem in China, compared to Europe. Last year, the World Bank mentioned that China contained sixteen out of twenty most polluted cities in the world. Sources of air pollution in China include traffic and electricity generation. Currently, a total of 24 million cars are owned by Chinese people. This number is expected to be five to six times larger by 2020. Traffic is not regulated properly, which leads to endless traffic jams. Nitrogen oxides play a central role in the air pollution problem, which occurs particularly in larger cities. For example, in Shanghai nitrogen oxide emissions increased by 20% every year between 1995 and 2005. Electricity plants run on coal, thereby causing additional sulphur dioxide pollution, resulting in acid rain. Sulphur dioxide emissions are expected to double by 2020 because of rapid expansion of electricity generation and application. Carbon dioxide emissions are also expected to increase over the coming years, causing a negative set-back for Kyoto countries. Scientists predict that carbon dioxide emissions in China will eventually outgrow even those of the United States. Unfortunately, western companies such as Senternovem and Enel, and the Japanese company Mitshubishi invest in carbon dioxide reductions in Chinese cities, thereby increasing their own emission rights. Consequences of increasing air pollution in China are failed harvests, health effects such as lung infections, and rapidly increasing pollution control costs. The government is attempting to handle the environmental problem by introducing air pollution laws, which limit industrial emissions or stimulate sustainable production. However, black industrial subsidies limit the effect of legislation. Despite the many plans to decrease air pollution, there is the risk of a strong negative influence on Chinese economy in the future. It is expected that despite the many efforts to decrease dependence of coal, this will not be achieved in the (near) future.

NRC Handelsblad 14-01-2006 - Both China and India are officially still developing countries under the Kyoto Protocol, and therefore signing the protocol had no direct consequences for the countries. However, rapid industrialisation causes both countries to be among the greatest air polluters of today. If fuel use keeps growing at the rate is does today, by 2030 it will require the entire planet earth to sustain the two countries, as is stated in the recent State of the World report. China and India together contain about 40% of the world population. If per capita oil use in these countries would rise to American numbers, together they would use more than the entire world currently does. The main problem is that China and India apply coal as the main source of energy provision.

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