Despite Chinese premier Li Keqiang recently declaring war on pollution, many remain skeptical that this rapidly growing economy is willing to do what it takes to make significant inroads on the pollution that has blighted many of its cities.

Those skeptics, however, may be underestimating a very important fact: China's air quality problems have gotten so bad that they are directly threatening the country's economy.

From an increase in incidents of lung cancer to smog that is so thick it is impeding photosynthesis and threatening farmers' livelihoods, the economic costs of air pollution can no longer be ignored. Now, reported over at The Guardian, comes another data point that should provide motivation for rapid and systemic shifts toward energy efficiency and clean tech: electronics giant Panasonic is going to start paying a "pollution premium" to employees relocating to China:

So-called hardship pay is not unusual for employees of foreign firms sent to work to China. But Panasonic is believed to be the first to announce a premium to compensate for polluted air. A company document from the labour talks said: "As for the premium for expatriates to compensate for a different living environment, the company will have a special review for those sent to Chinese cities."
Increased labor costs for pollution compensation is unlikely, on its own, to massively impact the economics of doing business in China. But if this growing nation wants to do business with the world, it will be hampered if executives of foreign companies have to think twice about locating their families to notoriously unhealthy cities. With China's population becoming increasingly vocal about the need to curb pollution, any additional pressure from wealthy foreign companies only adds to the feeling that something's got to change.

Luckily, there are countless ways for China to start cutting back on emissions. Given that Panasonic has significant investments in solar energy and electric vehicle technology, they may be able to help.

That's if Panasonic employees are willing to relocate...

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Panasonic to pay pollution premium to employees working in China
Electronics giant announces it will compensate workers relocating to China for the poor quality of air they will have to breathe.