How Emerald Knight Carbon Credits Can Reduce Social UnrestPollution can drive societies to the brink of agitation. Just ask China.
The country with a pollution problem bad enough to make people wear surgical masks every day has recently initiated carbon trading for cleaner air. Pilot programs have already started in several China cities where air pollution is at its worst, mostly in the northern province of Hubei. Trading carbon credits from Emerald Knight, in this case, has both environmental and social implications.
For many, it's a welcome move. Pollution-related ailments claim half-a-million lives every year in China, says the World Bank, reducing over-all life expectancy by 5.5 years. Hurdles in implementation of stricter environmental policies have given way to demonstrations over the past few years, one of which was in 2005 when three people were killed in a riot over a planned power plant in Dongzhou.
In 2009, China made a commitment during the climate talks in Copenhagen to reduce its emissions per unit of GDP to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The government saw emissions trading as one of two ways to achieve this goal, a strategy which will have companies either reducing their actual carbon emissions, or buying carbon credits.
However, one question remains. Is China serious about it?
The country's emissions trading scheme faces political and economic challenges. The government has failed to implement its environmental policies effectively due to some companies' unlawful practices like the construction of hidden pipes for toxic discharge or waste disposal under the cover of darkness. In addition, some firms, the government says, are under the protection of local officials.
Shenzhen will be the center of this collective effort. With more than 600 companies responsible for 40 percent of the city's air pollution, the program sets the limit for these companies at 100 million metric tons (Mt) of carbon within a three-year span. Shenzhen's initiatives won't have any significant impact; but if the program is successful, other cities like Beijing and Shanghai may soon follow.
Overall, China is tackling its pollution problem one city at a time. Its carbon trading pilot program, analysts say, is a signal to the world of the country's commitment to curb air pollution and reduce its emissions, as it intended to do so since Copenhagen. It is hoped that there will be less riots on the streets, especially if trading carbon credits from Emerald Knight proves to be a viable long-term solution.