China faces a growing environmental crisis forcing a critical review of not only its economic growth model but also its ability to implement political and judicial reforms. China's rapid development has been fueled by energy-intensive, high-emission manufacturing and other industries, which rely primarily on polluting sources of energy. A transportation boom and the large number of cars on the road further contribute to pollution. Rapid urbanization leads to greater energy consumption and places additional burden on the environment. Water use in urban areas and by the industrial sector is inefficient and wasteful. The resulting environmental crisis is marked by air and water pollution, soil contamination, water scarcity, extreme climate events, loss of biodiversity, overgrazing of grassland, deforestation, and desertification. It is further compounded by the lack of accountability for violations of environmental protection laws and standards.
Environmental degradation poses grave risks to public health and social stability. These risks include respiratory illnesses, diarrheal diseases, high incidences of cancer, and a growing number of social protests across the country against environmental problems.