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 law, and green supply chain issues. This China Environmental News Alert is a compilation of news from around the world on China and the environment.
March 1, 2013 – March 7, 2013
The Guardian (March 6, 2013)
As the Chinese government prepares to make a leadership transition this week, the country faces conflicting pressures as it strives toward economic growth while wanting to reduce emissions. While the country’s new leaders have declared “ecological progress” will be a priority, analysts at a World Resources Institute-led press teleconference said China must deal with series of inter-linked challenges– economic prosperity, energy security, mitigating climate change and social unrest – to make environmental strides. Even then, any changes probably won’t be seen until after 2015, when the country’s current five-year environmental plan ends, the analysts said.
Spiegel Online (March 6, 2013)
What does growth smell like? What does the biggest economic miracle of all time taste like? In Guiyu, on the South China Sea, the smell of growth is a caustic, slightly nut-like odor emitted when a computer keyboard is placed on a hotplate. Electronic waste is processed in Guiyu, one of the most prosperous cities in Guangdong Province. In Xintang, on the Pearl River Delta, it is the bitterly acidic gases that are released when tons of denim material are bleached, dyed and washed. Xintang is the jeans capital of the world, a source of jobs for tens of thousands of people.
China Daily (March 6, 2013)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard lauded China as Australia’s key partner in the fight for global food security at the launch of a new integrated research center here on Wednesday. The prime minister hailed the signing of an agreement between the University of Sydney and China’s Academy of Agriculture Science that will see a Sino-Australia Joint Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems established and housed at the center with a mirror facility in Beijing.
South China Morning Post (March 5, 2013)
Pan Yue, a high-profile official with a history of taking on big state-owned interests, has emerged as the front-runner to become environment minister, amid growing discontent over worsening pollution. Pan, a former journalist, is tipped to take over from career bureaucrat Zhou Shengxian when premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang forms his new cabinet during the annual session of parliament that opens today. “A recommended list (of cabinet ministers) lists Pan Yue as the environmental protection minister. But this is not final and could change at the last minute,” a source with ties to the leadership said.
South China Morning Post (March 5, 2013)
Delegates to China’s National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference this week, can hardly avoid the realisation that they are at a pivotal moment in China’s growing environmental crisis: either the government acts with a rigour and effectiveness it has not shown to date, or China’s long period of growth could crash into environmental buffers. Since the NPC’s last session a year ago, the country’s environmental deterioration and concomitant public anger over air, water and soil contamination have reached unprecedented levels. So heated has the popular response become that newspapers such as the Global Times have been moved to comment that the government must face up to the crisis, if only to defuse the tensions that threaten both social stability and any relationship of trust between citizens and the government.
China Daily (March 4, 2013)
China should accelerate environmental taxation reform and cut income tax for environmental protection companies to 15 percent, to ease the country’s pollution problems and realize sustainable development, a political adviser has suggested. Jia Kang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and head of the Ministry of Finance’s Research Institute for Fiscal Science, submitted a proposal to the committee to reduce the tax burden for environmental protection companies, which are usually medium or small-scale enterprises.
Financial Times (March 4, 2013)
As an aluminium smelter belches pollution into the hazy brown sky over Huangjiawa, a villager who used to till the land where the smelter now sits recalls a time when things were different. “Ten years ago the water in our rivers was so clean, even cleaner than the piped water is today,” says Mr Zhang, who declined to give his full name. Today the area has one of the highest rates of stomach cancer in the world, and the wells that sustained the village for centuries have been poisoned. But unlike other victims of pollution across China, the village of Huangjiawa has shot to national prominence as an online media campaign highlighting its plight has sparked a debate about groundwater contamination that has ricocheted all the way to Beijing. For Xi Jinping, China’s new leader who will be named head of state this week, growing public anger over environmental deterioration is set to be a key test of his leadership.
Pollution Is Costing China’s Economy More Than $100 Billion A Year
Business Insider (March 4, 2012)
China may be the world’s economic beacon of hope, but its pollution problems are hurting the bottom line.
While China is a leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels, it also is home to seven of the world’s 10 most polluted cities, according to a study from the Asian Development Bank and Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Various studies have estimated the economic impact of China’s pollution, and several sources suggest that illness, premature death and lost productivity could be costing the country upwards of $100 billion a year.
China Dialogue (March 4, 2013)
Three years ago Ma Zhong, dean of Renmin University’s School of the Environment and Natural Resources, came across an anomaly while researching water prices: Water input to Chinese industry was four times recorded waste water output. Even accounting for various losses and uses, 16 billion tonnes of waste water was going missing. Suspecting it was ending up underground, he reported his findings to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). But he saw no more done to protect groundwater. Ten years ago Li Wenpeng, assistant to the director at the Chinese Institute of Geological Environment Monitoring, and his colleagues, joined with 40 academics in signing a letter to the State Council. It called for a central groundwater monitoring body to be established. In 2011 the National Groundwater Monitoring Project got underway to fill that gap, with tens of thousands of people on call – but after the initial excitement, nothing happened.
China.org (March 4, 2013)
China’s legislature will “respond positively” to public concerns on environmental issues, a spokeswoman said at a press conference on Monday. The National People’s Congress (NPC) will revise and improve the Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Air Pollution and the Environmental Protection Law, said Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the first session of the 12th NPC, which kicks off on March 5.
(CENA prepared by Jack Marzulli)
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