In a bid to be more transparent about China’s environmental data (or at least appear that they are), a new smartphone app has been launched by the Chinese environmental group, BEIJING, that tracks and shames polluting factories. This app allows the public watchdog to monitor the companies that are polluting in order make this data more available.
Tackling pollution has supposedly “shot up” on the agenda of the current government, who previously appear to have only been concerned with achieving economic development as quickly as possible, with little concern on how it got there – meaning bad news for the environment over the years. However, growing protest from citizens who have had enough of the smoggy atmosphere, has finally made the government address the problem. Or at least look as though they might be toying with the idea. See monumental BBQ crackdown, put poetically by one Shanghaiist Food Editor as contributing the same amount of pollution to the air as fish farts contribute to sea pollution.
The app, produced by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, allows users to check the air quality for 190 cities as well as share real-time monitoring data about polluters. According to CTV news;
The app gives, where available, hourly updates on emissions reported by factories to local authorities and shows the plants as colour-coded points on a map, with violators of emissions limits in red. It also gives government air pollution data for areas throughout the country.
It hardly sounds riveting does it? Yet, environmental campaigners say keeping the public in the loop is key to stopping local officials permitting polluters to continue operating because of the financial gain it may promote. Though I’m hardly convinced the nation that has completely bypassed political scrutiny is about to start getting all Misure Poirot on the state.
Still, things are at least going in the right direction. Three years ago, such data, which is now required to be made public, was being hidden from public view by Chinese authorities. So all exposure is good exposure.
The group said the real-time monitoring showed as many as 370 large industrial companies were producing excessive emissions on Monday.
Gu Beibei, senior project manager at IPE, said “It will be a very effective tool for people to voice out their concerns”. I wonder if in the same way that people rushed to download this.
[Image via dw.de]
By Sophie Regan