© Provided by Forbes Media LLC
Buildings in China are shrouded in smog
China has implemented an unprecedented pollution crackdown in recent months as the country shuts down tens of thousands of factories. The effort is part of a national effort to address Chinas infamous pollution and has affected wide swaths of Chinas manufacturing sector.
In total, it is estimated that 40 percent of all Chinas factories have been shut down at some point in order to be inspected by environmental bureau officials. As a result of these inspections over 80,000 factories have been hit with fines and criminal offenses as a result of their emissions.
Safety officials have been moving from province to province (30 in total so far) shutting down factories as well as electricity and gas as they inspect the factories for meeting emissions requirements. This has resulted in late and missed orders, increased costs, and could ultimately result in higher prices on US shelves.
Chinas government has recently taken a more proactive approach in regulating environmental laws, something that was largely overlooked in past decades. The crackdown has resulted in everything from hefty fines to jail time for the more egregious violators. This has temporarily stopped production from wide swaths of factories along Chinas east coast and forced some factory owners to move supply chains to other countries.
China recently announced their plan to reduce the concentration of hazardous fine particulate matter from 47 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms by the year 2035. The recent crackdown appears to be at least partially in response to the new plan.
Chinas crackdown on polluting factories will result in cleaner air and a whole host of health benefits. However, there are certainly critics that point to a potential decline in Chinas industrial sector and GDP growth. Ultimately, factories will have to comply and find ways to both meet production goals and environmental laws.
For the average Chinese citizen, this will mean one step closer to swapping a polluted grey sky with blue skies. In this, China follows the realization the United States made in the early 1960s when implementing the Clean Air Act.
Environmental regulations are an essential part of governing, where population health is put before capitalism. There have been hundreds of studies that point to the overall positive effect of smart environmental regulations. From increased worker health (less sick days) to less government subsidized healthcare (Medicaid/Medicare) to increased employment.
MORE FROMTrevor Nace, Contributor