China is the world's largest polluter with large share of this pollution coming from dirty coal power plants that do not satisfy modern emission standards. China is well aware that its current economic growth can only be supported by coal but by the current looks of it, not at any price. The latest proof to this is order from China's government to shut down more than 2,000 highly polluting, unsafe or energy inefficient plants within the next two months. Power plants that will not comply to these order will face stiff penalties such as not being able to obtain loans, having sewage treatment licences revoked or being refused business licences.
China is putting maximum efforts to significantly increase energy efficiency in country, and it certainly looks like China's premier Wen Jiabao wasn't joking when few months ago said that he would use an "iron hand" to increase energy efficiency. Highly polluting power plants will heavily felt this hand.
According to the World Bank, the industry in China use 20% to 100% more energy per unit of output than their US, Japanese and other counterparts. Improving these numbers will not only mean more positive environmental impact but also better energy security.
Environmentalists are not the only ones supportive of this move but also many energy experts who believe that shutting down inefficient power plants can in the long run provide economic benefits too.
However, there are still many skeptics who believe that China will only temporary shut down these highly polluting plants and open them once demand starts picking up again.