The critical environmental and sustainability issues of China:
- Economic slowdown
China’s economy grew at a slower pace than expected in the third quarter of 2019 as it struggled with a US-led trade war and softer domestic demand. In the three months to September, the economy expanded 6% from a year earlier, official figures showed. The result fell just short of expectations for 6.1% growth for the period. The slowdown comes despite government efforts to support the economy, including measures such as tax cuts. The latest figures mark a further loss of momentum in the world’s second largest economy, which had already seen growth languishing at its slowest pace in around three decades.
- CO2 emissions
China is one of the biggest CO2 emitters in the world. The electricity generation and steel production are heavily dependent on the coal consumption. Air pollution with PM2.5 in the big cities are at hazardous levels.
- Water Pollution and Water Shortage
Pollution increased in some of China’s major lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the first quarter of 2019 even though the country’s overall water quality improved. Excessive fertilizer use is also posing problems in southwest Yunnan province, where phosphorus and nitrogen run-offs are driving up pollution at Fuxian, one of China’s biggest freshwater lakes. The environment ministry said that as many as 82 Chinese enterprises exceeded emissions standards in the fourth quarter of 2018, including 44 sewage treatment plants. Many were accused of dumping chemicals directly into nearby rivers.
The Yellow River, which is the sixth longest in the world, has dried up more than 30 times since 1972, including an episode in 1997 when the river failed to flow for 226 days, denying water to 7.4 million acres of farmland. Drying rivers are an increasing problem across China, thanks to a combination of climate change, high population density, intensive agriculture and rapid urbanisation. Over half the nation’s 50,000 rivers have completely dried up in the last 20 years and some areas have among the most serious water scarcity problems in the world.
- Income Inequality
In 2016, per capita rural disposable income was 12,363 RMB yuan, and that for poverty-stricken areas was 8,452 RMB yuan. Average monthly income for migrant workers reached 3,275 RMB yuan. In 2016 urban income was 2.72 times that of rural income.
- Health related Issues
China may only achieve 12 out of the 28 health-related SDG targets by 2030. The attainment index of child nutrition is projected to drop to 80.5 by 2025 because of worsening number of child overweight cases. The index of NCD risk factors is projected to drop to 38.8 by 2025.