China Environmental News Alert
Posted September 13, 2013 in Greening China
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.
September 9 - 13, 2013
New York Times (September 12, 2013)
The Chinese government announced an ambitious plan on Thursday to curb air pollution across the nation, including setting some limits on burning coal and taking high-polluting vehicles off the roads to ensure a drop in the concentration of particulate matter in cities. The plan, released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, filled in a broad outline that the government had issued this year. It represents the most concrete response yet by the Communist Party and the government to growing criticism over allowing the country’s air, soil and water to degrade to abysmal levels because of corruption and unchecked economic growth.
Associated Press (September 12, 2013)
China announced Thursday that it will ban new coal-fired power plants in three key industrial regions around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in its latest bid to combat the country's notorious air pollution. The action plan from the State Council, China's Cabinet, also aims to cut coal's share of the country's total primary energy use to below 65 percent by 2017 and increase the share of nuclear power, natural gas and renewable energy. According to Chinese government statistics, coal consumption accounted for 68.4 percent of total energy use in 2011. New coal-fired power plants will be planned for new projects in the region surrounding Beijing, in the Yangtze Delta region near Shanghai and in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong province, the State Council said.
Reuters (September 8, 2013)
China's premier, Li Keqiang, wants his plan to turn more Chinese into city dwellers to be "humanity-centered", focusing on quality of life and the environment and driven by job creation, the official China Daily newspaper reported on Sunday. Li, who took office this year, has an ambitious plan to boost China's urban population by 400 million over the next decade, a key plank in a reform effort to restructure the economy away from credit and export driven growth to one where consumers provide the main impetus. But the plan faces huge obstacles, including a lack of infrastructure in cities to deal with an influx of new residents and the cost of building it, which has led to concern that a spending binge could push up already high local debt levels and inflate a property bubble. The need to reform a complex system of residency registration that controls the benefits residents can enjoy is also a sticking point.
Reuters (September 11, 2013)
China must plan scientifically for "high-quality" urbanization that is human-oriented and energy-saving, a senior official at the country's top economic planning agency said in remarks published on Thursday. China's leaders have an ambitious plan to boost the urban population by 400 million over the next decade, a key plank in a reform effort to restructure the economy away from credit and export growth to one where consumers provide the main impetus. Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also said China's urbanization level, at about 52 percent of the population, still has a long way to catch up with that of developed economies and even some Asian countries. ...The NDRC has said it will unveil an urbanization plan in the second half of this year.
Bloomberg (September 9, 2013)
One of the most critical and controversial economic debates in China today revolves around how the country should urbanize. Already, more Chinese live in cities than on the land, a proportion that is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2030. Proponents of further urbanization are hoping that Premier Li Keqiang will announce reforms this fall that will make it easier for migrants to move to cities and receive the same rights as locals. This, they believe, will unlock the productivity gains needed to sustain growth over the coming decades. They’re right about the need for more city dwellers -- but not about the need for more cities. …China is already in a class by itself in accounting for 30 of the 50 largest cities in east Asia. It boasts half a dozen megacities with populations of more than 10 million and 25 “large” cities exceeding 4 million. In fact, though, the only way China will achieve its desired productivity gains is if its leaders allow cities to evolve more organically in response to market forces. They need to let cities like Beijing get bigger.
Reuters (September 6, 2013)
China's Sinopec Corp will produce lower sulfur gasoline from October, three months ahead of an official mandate, as part of a national effort to clear up the smoggy air of Chinese cities. Except for two subsidiary plants that are undergoing maintenance, the top Asian refiner will cut sulfur in all its gasoline production from 150 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm from October 1, a company official said.
Bloomberg (September 9, 2013)
Only five solar-power vendors remain in a space built for 170 at a sprawling complex of offices stacked three stories high outside Xinyu city in China’s southeast. Locked doors and empty offices are what’s left of the government’s audacious plan to dominate the global solar industry. What happened in Xinyu is being replicated across China, which used subsidies and $47.5 billion of credit to wrest supremacy from Germany, Japan and the U.S., saddling an industry with losses for at least two years. ...China’s backing for the solar industry has left at least one factory producing photovoltaic products in half of the country’s 600 cities, according to the China Renewable Energy Society in Beijing. Panel prices even after gains in the past six months are 60 percent lower than in November 2010 and have forced into bankruptcy dozens of those companies, including the largest unit of Suntech, once the industry’s biggest producer.
China Daily (September 9, 2013)
Environmental protection authorities in Shandong province on Sunday cleared 25 enterprises of allegations that they disposed of polluted water by pumping it deep underground, while simultaneously vowing quicker responses to future concerns raised online. The Shandong provincial environmental protection department said on its micro blog that it had concluded a half-year probe into more than 5,400 enterprises with water discharges in six cities in the province, including Weifang, Dong-ying and Rizhao, and that it did not uncover evidence of waste water being pumped underground. The provincial authority published details of investigations into the 25 factories alleged to have committed the crimes, showing no evidence of their guilt. However, three of the 25 enterprises reported were found guilty of other forms of pollution and have received penalties and orders to correct their practices.
The Atlantic (September 9, 2013)
Longtime opponents of China’s one-child policy can stick this feather in their cap: Infertility is rising and at this point, the causes can’t be easily reversed. Last week, Chinese scientists from three universities and a government think tank, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said they would be launching a five-year study into the relationship between pollution and female infertility. ...Scientific research has established that exposure to high levels of chemicals at farms and factories can cause infertility. But less is known about how much being exposed frequently to low levels of “environmental disruptors” affects one’s hormones. Last year, researchers found that exposure to certain pesticides, perchlorinated biphenhyls, also known as PCBs, used in coolants, and industrial compounds could reduce a couple’s ability to have children by as much as 29 percent. The coming Chinese study will analyze the presence and impact of pesticides, plasticizers, and bisphenol in women’s blood and urine.
Xinhua Net (September 9, 2013)
Chinese scientists announced on Monday that they have developed a type of nanomaterial which can catalyze algae masses growing on water surfaces into inorganic earth. Chinese lakes are often plagued by catastrophic outbreaks of blue-green algae. Triggered by vast amounts of sewage water drained into rivers and lakes, it can exude an unusually bad odor, suffocate fishery stocks and turn water into a milky green shade. Algae pollution has been a particular problem in three of China's major freshwater lakes -- Chaohu, Taihu and Dianchi. Chinese governments at multiple levels have invested billions of yuan in recent years to treat the pollution. But large blooms of algae, although reduced in density, still persist in times of sufficient heat and sunshine, conditions that are favorable for its growth. Scientists with the Chinese University of Science and Technology said on Monday that their laboratory tests had showed a single gram of the new nanomaterial that can kill algae floating in an area equal in size to a basketball court.
(CENA prepared by Michelle Ker)
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