Everything, it seemed, carried a “Made in China” label.But Chinese cities soon began to suffer from the effects of the black smoke produced by expanding heavy industry and from burning coal to generate power and wintertime heat.This shows that people are aware of pollution levels and are willing to take costly actions to protect themselves.
It also has a better chance of convincing local officials to devote more attention to environmental challenges.
In recent years, Beijing has been changing the performance evaluation and promotion criteria for local officials.
According to World Bank data from 2013, China’s citizens are exposed to roughly five times the levels of particulate matter as people in the United States.
This pollution comes from burning coal as well as a sharp rise in the consumption of high-sulfur gasoline, which fuels the growing number of private vehicles on China’s roads. Over the last 30 years, China’s economy grew at a rate of 10 percent per year, slashing the share of its population living below the poverty line from 84 percent to 13 percent.
In addition, second- and third- tier inland cities can offer lower electricity prices to manufacturers, making them increasingly attractive destinations for labor and energy intensive industries.
Happily, “dirty factories” do not simply migrate from one city to another.Instead of rewarding them purely for output, China now includes environmental goals in performance metrics.Mayors, especially in richer and better-educated cities, also face pressure from the public.Between 19, China’s annual consumption of coal increased from 679 to 3,887 million tons.Today, China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.With the relaxation of the nation’s domestic passport system and the liberalization of the labor and land markets, Chinese urbanites are able to vote with their feet and move to cleaner cities.Just as in the United States, where homes in nicer areas sell at a premium, apartments in Chinese cities and neighborhoods with better air also fetch higher prices.Many people use Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, to express concerns about pollution.We have documented that Chinese urbanites purchase more air filters and air pollution masks when pollution is elevated.Over the last 35 years, China’s economy has completely transformed itself, thanks to urbanization and industrialization.As their country has become the “world’s factory,” hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty.