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China Environmental News Alert

Greenlaw from NRDC China

Posted January 12, 2014

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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.

January 4 - 12, 2014

China sets air pollution goals

The Guardian (January 8, 2014)

China has set new targets for its provinces to reduce air pollution by 5 to 25%, state media said late on Tuesday, underscoring the government's concern about a source of public anger. China regularly issues directives to try to tackle air pollution in major cities, but these have had limited effect. …Under the new regulations, Beijing, its neighbouring city of Tianjin and northern Hebei province will have to cut the amount of PM 2.5 particles, which are especially bad for health, by 25% annually, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the ministry of environmental protection. China's commercial capital, Shanghai, the eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong and northern Shanxi will have to impose cuts of 20%. Reductions of 15% were set for Guangdong and Chongqing and 10% for the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinhua said.

China mulls national pollution permit trading system

Reuters (January 10, 2014)

China will look into establishing a nation-wide trading system for pollution permits as part of efforts to use market mechanisms to help clean up its environment, the country's top environment official said. In remarks published on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection ( on Friday, minister Zhou Shengxian said China was working on new regulations for pollution permits and would also publish proposals for new pilot trading projects as soon as possible. ...China already has more than 20 local trading platforms that allow industrial firms to buy and sell permits for pollutants like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, major constituents of smog and acid rain. But their impact has been limited, said Ma Zhong, the dean of the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Renmin University. “Emission trading in China is not strictly a market activity and it is more like paying for emitting. It is just a few regions running some test trading,” he told Reuters.

Limits set as China pushes urbanization

Global Times (January 11, 2014)

As China bets heavily on urbanization to bolster the economy, land officials have underscored the need to maintain a “red line” minimum for arable land and prohibit urbanites from buying rural land and building houses on it. China will limit land use in cities with over 5 million residents to prevent city expansion from eroding farmland, Jiang Daming, minister of land and resources, said on Friday during a national land meeting. According to Jiang, China will start demarcating permanent farmland around big cities and gradually introduce the policy nationally to draw a “red line” minimum for farmland in both urban and rural areas. Jiang said the government won't allow counter-urbanization by urban residents seeking to buy rural land and build houses on it.

China energy safety probe exposes 20,000 potential risks

Reuters (January 9, 2014)

China has uncovered nearly 20,000 disaster risks in its oil and gas sector during a nationwide safety probe following a pipeline blast that killed 62 people last year, the country's safety watchdog said on Thursday. Checks on some 3,000 petrochemical firms and oil storage sites found nearly 20,000 potential hazards, Wang Haoshui, an inspector with the safety agency, told reporters. “Oil and gas pipelines are buried underground... It is hard to inspect (them) and find the hidden dangers,” said Wang, adding that the agency had already urged the parties involved to fix the problems.

China’s 2013 Shale Gas Output Rises to 200 Million Cubic Meters

Bloomberg (January 8, 2014)

Shale-gas production in China, holding the world’s biggest shale reserves, surged by more than five times last year to 200 million cubic meters, according to the Land and Resources Ministry. PetroChina Co. (857)’s Changning-Weiyuan and Fushun-Yongchuan areas, along with the Fuling block operated by China Petrochemical Corp., known as Sinopec Group, have built new production capacity of 600 million cubic meters, the ministry said in a statement on its website today. Output was about 30 million cubic meters in 2012, according to Bao Shujing, a director at the ministry’s geological research bureau. China’s government has pledged to spur the shale industry’s development and meet rising gas demand by prioritizing land approvals, allowing tax-free imports of equipment and offering subsidies to explorers. The country is pumping more than 2 million cubic meters a day of shale gas, the National Energy Administration said on its website yesterday. Sinopec plans to produce 3.2 billion cubic meters from Fuling in 2015, doubling its previous target, it said.

China on world's 'biggest push' for wind power

BBC News (January 8, 2014)

China has embarked on the greatest push for renewable energy the world has ever seen. A key element involves more than doubling the number of wind turbines in the next six years. Already the world's largest producer of wind power, China plans further massive increases. From a current installed capacity of 75 gigawatts (GW), the aim is to achieve a staggering 200GW by 2020. By contrast, the European Union countries together have just over 90GW of installed wind capacity.

China Will Soon Embark On A Decade-Long 'Green Cycle'

Business Insider (January 11, 2014)

[I]t’s China’s turn to get tough on pollution, and Credit Suisse analysts said in a report last month that the country is about to embark on a decade-long “green cycle” of stricter regulation and investment in green technologies and infrastructure. Guided by Japan’s experience in the 1970s, the analysts estimate that total environmental spending in China during the government’s current five-year plan (2011-2015) could total 3.4 trillion yuan ($561 billion.) The effort is going to prove a burden for some and an opportunity for others. It’s going to cost companies in those industries doing the bulk of the polluting at present – particularly power plants, cement producers and steel manufacturers – a good deal of money to upgrade their facilities and production processes to comply with new air pollution regulations coming online this year and next year. …But a green decade in China will prove a boon to many more. “Investment in the [waste treatment] sector is not just defensive (against) economic cycles, it is also exciting with sustainable earnings growth,” the Credit Suisse analysts wrote.

China crushes six tons of ivory

The Guardian (January 6, 2014)

China has destroyed several tons of confiscated ivory tusks and carvings, just months after the US crushed six tons of seized ivory. Officials in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, pulverised 6.1 tons of confiscated tusks and carvings in an event on Monday attended by representatives from 10 countries including the UK, and elephant states including Kenya, Gabon, and Tanzania. Elephant poaching has reached record levels in recent years, at a peak of 25,000 killings in 2011, followed by 22,000 deaths in 2012. China is the world's biggest market for ivory, where it is often sold as carved into works of art and considered a status symbol.

Study shows how China’s air quality affects its global competitiveness

South China Morning Post (January 11, 2014)

China has the second worst air pollution in the world, after India, according to a state think tank's report on global environmental competitiveness. The report, covering the year 2012 and issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Thursday, also concluded that China ranked 87th out of 133 countries in overall environmental competitiveness, after evaluating each country's ecological status, environmental management capacity and the balance between economic growth and conservation. The data was compiled using 16 indicators, including air quality. Switzerland, Germany and Norway topped the list. Brazil was the highest-ranked developing country, in fifth place, while the United States was 26th. The study evaluated air quality based on levels of four pollutants, including smog-induced fine particles known as PM2.5, as well as the level of indoor air pollution, using figures from international organisations such as the United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank.

Solution To China's Air Pollution Problem? Roof Sprinklers Could Clean Atmosphere Like ‘Watering A Garden’

International Business Time (January 7, 2014)

Shaocai Yu, a geoengineering researcher from Zhejiang and North Carolina State universities, has a novel idea for cleaning up China’s polluted air. The technique involves positioning sprinklers on the roofs of tall buildings to spray water into the atmosphere to collect particulate matter, similar to how rain removes airborne dust. According to Nature World News, the idea came to Yu while he watched someone water a garden. “I immediately thought that we can clean air pollution by spraying water into the atmosphere like watering a garden,” Yu told Nature World News. Yu’s idea for a giant sprinkler system to clean up China’s toxic haze is outlined in an article in the January 2014 issue of Environmental Chemistry Letters. Yu predicts his scheme could reduce the amount of fine particulate in the atmosphere around major cities to 35 micrograms per cubic meter, a level much safer than the 500 micrograms per cubic meter previously recorded in Beijing (that’s about 20 times more than what the World Health Organization deems acceptable).

(CENA prepared by Michelle Ker)

* 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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