China Environmental News Alert
Posted March 22, 2013
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.
The Chinese government has set an ambitious target for domestic shale gas production, an energy source which could support the country’s growth. However, China is yet to develop a commercially viable method of extracting shale gas and without substantial technological development, it’s unclear how this target will be reached. Can China tap this precious resource to buoy its slowing economy?
The number of dead pigs discovered in Chinese rivers around Shanghai has risen to almost 14,000, officials say. There is no word from the authorities about the cause of the deaths. Last week, officials retrieved nearly 6,000 pig carcasses from the Huangpu River network. They insisted that water from the river was safe.
China’s state leadership transition took place this month against an ominous backdrop. More than 13,000 dead pigs were found floating in a river that provides drinking water to Shanghai. A haze akin to volcanic fumes cloaked the capital, causing convulsive coughing and obscuring the portrait ofMao Zedong on the gate to the Forbidden City.
China's coastal waters are suffering "acute" pollution, with the size of the worst affected areas soaring by more than 50% last year, an official body said. The state oceanic administration (SOA) said 68,000 square kilometres (26,300 square miles) of sea had the worst official pollution rating in 2012, up 24,000 square kilometres on 2011.
China has grown into a dynamic powerhouse of business. Among the men, there are women who have displayed the traditional Chinese knack for good business sense. Zhang Yin, who founded and chairs the Nine Dragon Paper (Holdings) Ltd, believes in sustaining forests and keeping the checks and balances in keeping the environment alive. This is more so relevant given the fact that China’s cities are under attack from excessive pollution and environmental damage.
China will have to raise up to $US243 billion a year by 2020 to finance clean energy development, said a report commissioned by Beijing which will be presented to the government this month.
Amid all the news about coal and pollution problems in China you might have missed this one: According to new statistics from the China Electricity Council, China’s wind power production actually increased more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012.
China-Russia energy cooperation -- a crucial part of the relations between the two countries -- has once again come to the fore as Chinese President Xi Jinping is to start a visit to Russia on Friday.
It was the Icarus of the solar power industry. And, on Wednesday, it fell to earth. The main subsidiary of Suntech Power, one of the world’s largest makers of solar panels, collapsed into bankruptcy in a remarkable reversal for what had been part of a huge Chinese government effort to dominate renewable energy industries. The bankruptcy is a sign of the worldwide consolidation of the solar industry, which has been crippled by a glut of products on world markets and Western tariffs on Chinese products. It also signals China’s unwillingness to continue to subsidize struggling manufacturers in the industry, which is contributing to the steep decline of its green energy pursuits.
Another milestone in China’s emergence as the world’s largest foreign energy consumer has been reached, with Chinese data indicating it has now become the largest net importer of oil. Amid the emergence of the United States as an energy superpower, China reportedly imported a net 6.12 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) last December, exceeding for the first time U.S. net imports of 5.98 million bopd.
Renewable energy is an increasingly hot topic in China and is a sector targeted for increasing amounts of government attention and investment. As many parts of China have been shrouded in a gray haze over the past few months, both the government and citizens have begun to realize the urgency and are looking for new alternatives to tackle the problem.
To quote a Reuters report from yesterday: "the rotting bodies of about 6,000 pigs in a river that supplies tap water to Shanghai have drawn attention to an ugly truth - China's pig farms are often riddled with disease and one way or another, sick animals often end up in the food chain".
To avoid more damage to the environment, the central government is willing to compromise less industrial growth for a more ‘Beautiful China.’ in order. The WSJ’s Wei Gu tells us why China’s emphasis on cleaning up the country may be a good time for investors in the environmental industry.
Officials at Beijing's stately National People's Congress, an annual conclave held by China's political leadership, were full of promises to "build a beautiful China" of blue skies and pristine rivers – promises which, as the air in adjacent Tiananmen Square settled into smoky grey, critics derided as more talk than action.
Just days after China's new premier, Li Keqiang, promised to "show even greater resolve" in the government's promised crackdown on air and water pollution, officials have reportedly confirmed tough new fuel efficiency standards for new cars in the world's largest auto market. According to Reuters' reports, five government bodies, including the National Development and Reform Commission, have confirmed long-awaited fuel efficiency rules that will require manufacturers to deliver average fleet efficiency of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres by 2015, falling to 5.0 litres per 100km by 2020.
Sitting on a Tokyo runway last week, the captain announced that our flight would be delayed for reasons few of us could believe: sandstorms.Chuckles filled the aircraft. The woman next to me quipped: “What, are we in Egypt?” As we all craned our necks to look out the windows, it really did feel as if we were taxiing in Cairo or Marrakesh, not the capital of a Group of Seven nation. The sand is compliments of China’s boom. Thanks to deforestation and overgrazing, more and more of the Gobi Desert’s grit, along with industrial pollution, is being carried by prevailing winds to Japan. In recent weeks, people in Japan have been Googling “PM2.5,” or fine airborne particulates that cause disease and premature death in high concentrations. They also are loading up on air purifiers as China’s environmental crisis becomes Japan’s.
Air pollution in China is alarming much of the time, but earlier this year the problem became so acute that it made international headlines. In January, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported air pollution levels of 755 on an index that typically stops at 500, embarrassing a Chinese government that had just begun making data on fine particulate matter available for major cities in response to a series of well-publicized citizen demands for more transparency. Fine particulate matter (pollutant particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter -- PM 10 -- and 2.5 microns in diameter -- PM 2.5) is a critical air pollutant of concern for human health because it is small enough to reach the lung's most sensitive tissues, where it can facilitate infections and induce cancers.
(CENA prepared by Tim Quijano)
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