China Environmental News Alert
Posted June 20, 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.
June 20-27, 2013
Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2013)
Hong Kong’s famed population of pink dolphins is dwindling faster than ever, environmentalists say, shrinking 60% in the past decade because of heavy pollution and construction work in the waters they inhabit. The city’s Chinese white dolphins—popularly known as pink dolphins for their skin’s rosy hue—are a beloved tourist attraction. In 1997, the city went so far as to choose a pink dolphin with a smiling face as its official mascot during the former British colony’s handover back to Chinese rule.
Chinese Nonprofits Survive and Thrive
Businessweek (June 19, 2013)
China’s new president speaks emphatically about economic reforms but so far has shown little interest in pursuing political reforms. Since Xi Jinping took office in March, his government has tightened controls on domestic newspapers, the Internet, and social media. But there is one bright spot in China: According to the editor of the newly released Chinese NGO Directory, mainland civil society groups are quickly growing in number—and in ambition. In certain spheres, such as the provision of eldercare or aiding people with disabilities, the central government is actively seeking to partner with and fund Chinese nonprofit groups, a significant departure from the past.
China to Survey Soil Pollution Nationwide, Xinhua Reports
Bloomberg (June 13, 2013)
China is surveying soil nationwide to ascertain levels of heavy metals pollution after the discovery of rice tainted with cadmium spurred concern that crops may be unsafe, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The project will compare samples collected from topsoil and deeper layers to determine heavy-metal pollution caused by human activities, Xinhua reported, citing the Ministry of Land Resources and China Geological Survey. The survey will test for 78 elements in soil, according to the report that was posted to the central government’s website yesterday.
China aims to slash its air pollution by 2017
CHINA may soon breathe a little easier. The nation's State Council has announced strict measures to cut the amount of air pollution chucked out by industry by nearly a third by the end of 2017. It's a big move, but it's only the first salvo of a lengthy battle. Much of eastern China suffers from severe air pollution due to heavy industry and enormous volumes of traffic. In early 2013, the pollution in Beijing was the worst on record. Levels of particles less than 2.5 micrometres across, known as PM2.5, were 22 times what the World Health Organization considers safe . Although the air has been much cleaner in recent months, China's pollution still regularly reaches unhealthy levels, and the country's emerging middle class has begun protesting regularly about the bad air.
California looks to milk China’s growing dairy demand
Center for Investigative Reporting (June 13, 2013)
A growing demand for milk and cheese in China has the potential to bring California’s beleaguered dairy industry back to life – and with it, renewed concern about its damaging effects on the environment. As China’s middle class grows, so does its penchant for dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. U.S. government data show that Chinese demand for dairy products is growing rapidly. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, imports of skimmed milk powder grew by 49 percent and are expected to increase an additional 18 percent this year. And although China is trying to build its nascent dairy industry to meet this demand, it relies heavily on imports of high-protein feed. That includes one of California’s most water-intensive crops, alfalfa.
China and US agree on gas phase-out
ABC (June 14, 2013)
The agreement by China to phase out one of the most potent greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has led to hopes that progress to combat climate change might finally be made.
China puts up a green wall to US trash
Christian Science Monitor (June 19, 2013)
Have you ever wondered what happens to the soda can that you toss into a recycling bin? Chances are high that it ends up in China – like 75 percent of the aluminum scrap that the United States exports. Or 60 percent of its scrap paper exports. Or 50 percent of its plastic. But a new Chinese edict, banning "foreign rubbish," has thrown the international scrap and waste trade into turmoil and is posing a major new challenge for US recyclers.
China takes cautious step toward carbon emissions trading
Reuters (June 18, 2013)China launched its first pilot carbon emissions exchange on Tuesday, though plans for a nationwide rollout and efforts to apply the scheme to some polluting heavy industries could be undermined by a slowdown in the world's No.2 economy.
Rich Chinese Provinces 'Outsource' Pollution to Poor Ones
Bloomberg (June 17, 2013)
A flurry of citizen-led protests against polluting (or proposed) chemical factories in Chinese cities has recently made headlines. And for good reason, as hundreds of peaceful marchers parading in front of government buildings and waving hand-made signs (such as “We Want to Survive” and “Say No to PX,” a hazardous chemical) isn’t something you see every day in authoritarian China.
China's polluted farmlands carry the seeds of change
China Daily (June 18, 2013)
From poisonous rice to melamine-infused milk, reports of tainted food are a regular occurrence in China. Just last month, farmers in Shandong province were found to be using an illegal and highly toxic pesticide to grow ginger. And a food safety inspection earlier this year showed that almost half of the rice for sale in Guangzhou contained excessive cadmium, a hazardous metal. Not surprisingly, the farmland that produces this food is equally contaminated. According to a 2011 report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, 21.5 per cent of soil samples from 364 rural villages failed to meet national soil quality standards. There is widespread belief that the real extent of the pollution may be far worse. Earlier this year, when a Beijing lawyer asked the ministry to release its soil pollution data, the ministry refused, stating that the data is a state secret.
Polluting to death: China introduces execution for environmental offenders
RT (June 20, 2013)
China has introduced “harsher punishments” for breaking the nation’s environmental protection laws: reckless violators of pollution standards in the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economy now face execution. A new judicial interpretation taking effect on Wednesday has tightened Chinese “lax and superficial” enforcement of environmental protection laws, Xinhua reported citing a government statement.
(CENA prepared by Tim Quijano)
* 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.