As much as Aucklanders need to get out of town to appreciate the rest of New Zealand, we all benefit from a reality check now and again as to how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country.
A former member of our Auckland construction law team now resides in Beijing. Last week she woke up to -12 degrees. This week the government issued a rare red alert for smog. The World Health Organisation rates 25 parts per million (of pollution PM2.5) as acceptable. Beijing regularly sits at 200 PPM. On a trip to Beijing in April this year the writer experienced a sandstorm reaching levels of 890 PPM. Yesterday Beijing’s pollution level reached 976 PPM – a staggering 40 times over the WHO standard.
With the rapid growth of the Chinese middle class, car sales have rocketed as have the number of household appliances and electricity consumption. 60% of China’s electricity is generated from coal power plants. The Government has a 5-year plan to convert these to a far more efficient system, but this will still see pollution increase and peak in 2030.