China has 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. China’s increasing pollution is also affecting other countries, including the United States. The Alliance is working to decrease this pollution through energy efficiency strategies that will reduce the need to burn coal to generate electricity.
Energy efficiency represents one of the single greatest opportunities for environmental protection in China. Reducing the need to produce electricity, which in China comes primarily from coal fired power plants, will significantly reduce air and water pollution associated with burning coal.
For example, mercury from Chinese power plants is contaminating U.S. fish and soils. At least 40 percent of the mercury in U.S soil comes from Asia, predominantly China. Working with China to plan and implement energy efficiency programs will therefore protect US and global resources as well as China’s fragile environment.
One of the reasons energy efficiency is such an important solution is because of China’s inefficient use of energy and raw materials. China’s energy consumption per unit of GDP in 2003 was 11.5 times that of Japan, 4.3 times more than the US, and nearly 4 times the world average. Thus, there is enormous opportunity to reduce the amount of energy and materials consumed.
By supporting the Chinese government’s efforts to incorporate energy efficiency into all sectors of the economy, the Alliance is addressing resource scarcity and environmental protection issues that are relevant in San Francisco as well as Beijing.