Aside from reducingemissions, China’s primary concern was how the economy was going to be affectedby this project. The dam meant larger ships of up to 10,000 tonnes would beable to travel up the Yangtze River. This opened up inland China and allowedthe region to trade and export products via the Port of Shanghai. It is alsoestimated that $242 million each year will be generated from tourism fromsurrounding cities which the Three Gorges Dam would attract.
On a more localscale, the positive impacts are even more significant. The scheme would preventthe frequent flooding in the Wuhan region which accounted for 10% of theChinese grain economy and 100,000 acres of surrounding farmland. The reservoirwould also allow for cheaper and easier irrigation. However, new farmingtechniques were required which would hinder yields initially and make thescheme less desirable in the short term and may require rice and grain to beimported. The project also cost $22.5 billion which they recovered in 10 years. The main purpose of the ThreeGorges Scheme was to reduce China’s reliance on fossil fuels.
On a nationalscale, the scheme cut emissions by 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 and10,000 tonnes of NO2 each year. This also benefitted the nationaleconomy as environmental degradation costs China 10% of its GDP every year.However, despite the investment in renewable energy, there was a 3.
5% increasein CO2 emissions in the most recent year of 2017. On a local scalethe project has been harmful to the surrounding ecosystems. There has been an8% reduction in biodiversity in the Yangtze River as the dam lowers thedissolved oxygen content in the water disrupting the process of aeration. Eachyear 25 species of fish in the Yangtze are being added to the endangeredspecies list. However, globally, the reduction in emissions is potentiallysaving more lives elsewhere.
The benefits of the damsocially can be seen locally and nationally. The scheme provides a stablesource of drinking water to surrounding villages as well as sewage treatment.The Wuhan area had frequent flooding which had damaged land, claimed thousandsof lives and caused millions of dollars of damage which the dam now prevents.Additionally, many parts of the country experienced power shortages in thesummer when most households were using air conditioning, however the scheme hasprevented these from occurring with the additional energy that it produces. Onthe other hand, for many previously living near the dam, the scheme was asocial nightmare. 1200 villages were destroyed causing 1.
7million people to beevacuated with a total of $7 per family in repayments. The project causedthousands of violent riots including illegal land seizures. However, thisproblem only existed in the short run and would eventually calm down. From a political point ofview the dam was predominantly a success. In the short term, the projectprovided jobs as it required 20,000 workers 24 hours a day to build. On alarger scale the scheme improved the image of the Chinese government as thisproject meant they were world leaders in renewable and hydropower energy. Chinahas improved its air quality since 2011 and now only has 5 of the top 30polluted cities in the world. Locally, air quality has significantly improvedas 1,600 power stations were shut down along the Yangtze River.
However, thegovernment had to deal with the rioters of those who had been relocated. The”model cities” which they planned to build instead were unrealistic and expensivewhich was a poor misjudgement by the government. Issues with relocating localsalso contributed to the increasing problem of urbanisation in China.