Washington Post reports on the new data transparency on air pollution in China. This is an important article. I strongly recommend reading it in full and not just the small section below.
BEIJING — China’s Communist state is hardly known for its transparency. So when environmental groups appealed to the government last year to disclose official data on air pollution, they were not expecting much.“Way beyond our expectations, the government actually said yes,” said Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. “I am quite amazed.”
Since Jan. 1, the central government has required 15,000 factories — including influential state-run enterprises — to publicly report details on their air emissions and water discharges in real time, an unprecedented degree of disclosure that is shedding light on the who, what, when and where of China’s devastating environmental problems.
The reporting requirement is part of a striking turnaround by China’s government, which is also publishing data on the sootiest cities and trying to limit the use of coal. The country’s appalling air is blamed for more than a million premature deaths a year, for producing acid rain that damages the nation’s agriculture, for driving away tourists and even for encouraging the brightest students to study abroad. Perhaps just as important, Beijing’s bad air has been making its Communist leaders lose face.
Cleaning up China’s bad air will take years, even in the best of circumstances. The economy is dependent on coal, and there are many powerful interests involved. But activists say the new steps could at least represent the beginning of change.