Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The Silver Lining In The Economic Downturn Cloud

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 8, 2009

Coal-heavy China, whose rapid industrialization has made it one of the world’s most polluted nations, has breathable air once again thanks to the shuttering of its factories:

During boom times, demand for electricity was so high in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta that companies often endured rotating blackouts. Some installed their own generators, which burned low-grade, dirty fuel.

But since last fall, blackouts have been few, and generators are seldom used.

Environmental advocates say the downturn presents an opportunity for the government to move more aggressively to shut the dirtiest plants and enact stricter emissions regulations.

“The fact that the economy has slowed down has made it easier to stick to their plans to consolidate and close plants,” said Deborah Seligsohn, director of the China climate program for the U.S-based World Resources Institute.

Seligsohn said she is encouraged by the fact that China’s $586 billion economic stimulus plan includes funding for better technology and infrastructure that could benefit the environment.

In Guangdong, the slowdown could spur long-held plans to transform the region from dirty, labor-intensive manufacturing to cleaner high-tech industries.


It’s advice that Xu, 59, has taken to heart as he seeks to reinvent Beijing Famed Machinery, his two-decade-old company.

With production down 75 percent this year, he has now decided to focus his energy on what had largely been a side project: making and selling machines that turn agricultural waste into what he calls “green coal” _ fuel pellets that burn more cleanly than coal.

“It’s up to us whether we can turn crisis into opportunity,” he said. “This is a good time for our biomass product.”

One good sign is that China is paying attention to putting solar installations in rural areas, working to bypass the coal stage altogether as they bring rural Chinese into the 21st century.

One Response to “The Silver Lining In The Economic Downturn Cloud”

  1. omen said

    did you see the nyt story where china stated they want to become the global leader for manufacturing electric cars.

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