Greenlaw from NRDC China, NRDC China Program, Beijing
NRDC has been working in China for over fifteen years on such issues as energy efficiency, green buildings, clean energy technologies, environmental governance and public participation, and green supply chain issues. This China Environmental News Alert is a compilation of news from around the world on China and the environment.
June 20, 2012 – July 18, 2012
chinadialogue (June 20, 2012)
Over the last 20 years, China has seen the advent and growth of public participation in the sustainable development field, at both the national and local level. The past few years have been as significant as any: new technologies have taken citizen engagement to new heights online, while government action has brought public participation into mainstream political thought.
The Guardian (June 21, 2012)
Carbon dioxide emissions have risen by even more than previously thought, according to new data released by the Guardian, casting doubt on whether the world can avoid dangerous climate change. Global carbon emissions from energy are up 48% on 1992. China, which in 2006 took over the US’s historical position as the world’s biggest emitter, raced ahead in 2010, emitting 8.3 billion tons of carbon from energy consumption – up 15.5% on the previous year, and a 240% increase since 1992.
China Daily (June 23, 2012)
Environmental authorities have mapped out a three-year plan for the restoration of Bohai Bay, which was severely damaged by the oil spills last year, according to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The Ministry of Agriculture aims to rebuild the area’s fishery industry by 2015, including putting about 3.4 billion aquatic animals into the bay. The SOA also announced that money from a 1 billion yuan ($157 million) compensation fund has already been allocated to Hebei and Liaoning provinces to be used to help fisherman affected by the leaks from the Penglai 19-3 oilfield.
Shanghai Daily (June 27, 2012)
PM2.5 readings from all of the city’s 10 monitoring spots have been released starting June 27 on the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center website. By the end of this year, Shanghai will officially announce the hourly and daily readings of all six types of pollution – PM10, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, PM2.5, ozone and carbon monoxide – under a new national air quality monitoring standard. Shanghai has established 30 PM2.5 monitoring spots, including the 10 national control spots set up under governmental requirements for the city’s size and scale of its industry.
chinadialogue (July 2, 2012)
Another bout of fighting has broken out over hydropower development on China’s Jinsha River, the westernmost tributary to the Yangtze. The war of words revolves around the plans to construct 25 dams along the Jinsha River. These dams, when completed, would generate as much electricity as four Three Gorges Dams put together. This would create a huge cluster of reservoirs – on average, one every 100 kilometers. Some experts say the damming of the river would effect the environment, habitat and lifecycles of state-protected fish while damaging the river as a whole.
Los Angeles Times (July 2, 2012)
According to the Global Times, the Government Offices of the State Council in China announced that it would move over the next two to three years to remove shark fins from the menus of official functions, and to prod other levels of government in the same direction. Though the serving of shark-fin soup has a long history, it only became an environmental concern in recent years when large numbers of newly wealthy people of Chinese ancestry could afford to honor their guests with the delicacy.
Caixin Online (July 3, 2012)
In the past century, China’s Hubei Province has lost nearly 90% of its lakes due to illegal water use, heavy industrial activity and sleight of hand that always put environmental costs at the bottom of the deck. On May 30, the provincial People’s Congress passed the Hubei Province Lake Protection Ordinance, the most far-reaching regulation on water pollution to date. The new regulation not only clarifies an accountability system that directly ties water quality assessment with the local leadership evaluation system, but also clarifies the functions of departments involved in lake management. The regulation also makes specific provisions for public participation.
The Guardian (July 4, 2012)
China’s municipal solid waste (MSW) is growing 8% to 10% annually and its cities are under great pressure to deliver advanced waste-management solutions. A central government target calls for 30% of MSW to be treated by waste-to-energy incineration by 2030 and industry insiders and state-run media routinely declare 300 incineration plants will be operational by the time the 12th Five-Year Plan runs its course in 2015. Though China’s incinerators are touted as a “clean energy,” their emissions regulations are considerably looser than those for power plants. Legally, incinerators can emit nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide at, respectively, four and five times the levels of power plants in China.
Wall Street Journal (July 4, 2012)
A group of Chinese fisherman filed suit against ConocoPhillips Inc. in the U.S. over an oil spill in China last year, potentially reviving legal challenges months after the company signaled they were largely settled. The suit, filed in a Houston federal court on July 2, was filed by 30 fisherman and blames ConocoPhillips for the spills around offshore production platforms the U.S. company operates in north China’s Bohai Bay. The suit doesn’t specify monetary damages being sought but states each of the fisherman suffered at least $50,000 in losses associated with the spill. The plaintiff group isn’t seeking damages against China National Offshore Oil Corp., a Chinese company known as Cnooc that owns 51% of the field.
Global Times (July 5, 2012)
A senior Chinese official has warned that pollution control did not progress well in the country in the first half of the year. Pollution reduction facilities have not been in full swing in many places and the construction of new facilities has lagged behind schedule according to Zhang Lijun, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will start a national inspection on pollution control measures this month, Zhang said.
China Daily (July 9, 2012)
Foreign companies are buying into the Chinese water treatment market, after the country vowed to invest 430 billion yuan (US$63 billion) in the sector during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15). Fueling this investment is the announcement that China will adopt a new national standard for drinking water this month and also plans to raise the standard for wastewater discharge. Statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection found underground water in 57 percent of monitored sites across Chinese cities was found to be polluted or extremely polluted. According to the Ministry, more than 65 billion tons of wastewater was discharged last year, but little is fully treated before going into the rivers and sea.
China Daily (July 10, 2012)
Nearly 76 percent of the sewage generated in Guangdong province last year was directly discharged into local rivers, the province reported on July 9. The amount of sewage discharged in the southern province reached 12.53 billion metric tons in the previous year, up 110 million tons from 2010. More than 9.5 billion tons of the sewage, or 75.8 percent of the total, was directly discharged into local rivers. Experts attribute the province’s worsening water pollution to the lack of investment in sewage treatment in some areas. Guangdong will increase its daily sewage treatment capacity by 1 million metric tons this year and will build another 1,000 kilometers of sewer networks.
Reuters (July 10, 2012)
China, the world’s biggest producer of rare earth metals, is likely to turn an importer of the vital industrial ingredients by as early as 2014 as it boosts consumption in domestic high-tech industries rather than just shipping raw material overseas. China says it is curbing exports to redress the environmental damage done by decades of mining, but has also made it clear it would prefer to be the biggest consumer of rare earths rather than the biggest producer. A concerted effort to build an entire industrial chain means that China, which produces more than 90 percent of world supplies of rare earths, is now consuming 65 percent of output versus 25 percent a decade ago.
Business Wire (July 12, 2012)
Imports of Chinese solar cells and panels into the United States decreased for the second straight month in May year-over-year, according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). Chinese solar imports totaled $124.1 million in May, down about 45 percent from $225.8 million in May 2011, according to the Department of Commerce’s “U.S. Imports of Merchandise” database. Despite two months of declines, Chinese import levels for all of 2012 are still ahead of last year’s pace. Imports from Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines continued to rise significantly, compared with shipments in May 2011.
USA Today (July 15, 2012)
China is building more eco-cities designed to be low-carbon and energy-saving than any other country, according to a survey at the University of Westminster in London. One of the biggest will be Tianjin Eco-City, a joint development between the Chinese and Singaporean governments that will cover almost 11 square miles of wasteland and salt pans near Tianjin, a major port city southeast of Beijing. More than 1,000 people will move in this year, with a target of 350,000 residents by 2025. In recent years, more than 200 Chinese cities have announced they will build large housing developments that seek to reduce energy use and motor vehicle use and thus the amount of carbon put out by power plants and tailpipes. China’s buyers don’t appear motivated by environmentalism, real estate professionals say. Saving money and preserving their health look to be the big selling points.
Wall Street Journal (July 16, 2012)
China’s shale-gas industry is still in its early days, with production nowhere near the commercial stage, but that hasn’t deterred foreign companies from trying to get in on the ground floor. U.S. companies that provide oil-field services are looking to gain a foothold in China by investing in local partners before the country launches a second round of bidding later this year for its huge reserves of natural gas trapped within shale. Chinese state-owned companies were allocated shale-gas blocks in the first round in June 2011. Meanwhile, China’s big three energy producers have been investing in shale-gas assets in North America.
China Daily (July 17, 2012)
China has made progress in electric vehicles, but compared with some developed countries, the gap in core technologies and industrialization is actually widening, according to a recent report. The report said that the performance of single-power batteries made in China is close to the international advanced level, but the country trails far behind in battery pack engineering and management. On the same day the report was released, the State Council announced a target for both production and sales of 500,000 plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles by 2015, with the number projected to reach 5 million by 2020.
The Guardian (July 18, 2012)
The average Chinese person’s carbon footprint is now almost on a par with the average European’s, figures released on Wednesday reveal. The report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European commission’s Joint Research Centre show that per capita emissions in China increased by 9% in 2011 to reach 7.2 tons per person, only a fraction lower than the EU average of 7.5 tons. The published figures are based on where fossil fuels are burned. Previous studies have suggested that almost a fifth of Chinese emissions are caused by the production of goods for export. Yet another study showed that the country’s official energy statistics were as much as 20% lower than they should be.
(CENA prepared by Craig Spencer)
* The links and article summaries in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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