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Greenlaw from NRDC China’s Blog

China Environmental News Alert

Greenlaw from NRDC China

Posted January 18, 2014

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January 13 - 18, 2014

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.

China To Be Largest Energy Importer by 2035
Xinhua (January 16, 2014)
China is expected to exceed Europe to become the largest energy importer in the world by 2035, said a report issued by British oil giant BP.  According to the report, China's energy production will rise 61 percent by 2035 while consumption will grow by 71 percent. China's share in global demand rises form 22 percent to 27 percent in 2035, and its import dependence will rise from 15 percent to 20 percent.  It predicted China to overtake the United States as the world's largest oil consumer by 2027 and Russia as the world second largest gas consumer by 2025, only after the U.S. 

China To Double Oil, Gas Production by 2035
Reuters (January 8, 2014)
Top world energy consumer China is expected to double output of oil and gas to nearly 700 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2030 as available resources rise, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Wednesday.  China's oil and gas production in 2013 rose 4.6 percent from the previous year to 320 million tonnes of oil equivalent, the land ministry said on its website ( Of the total, oil production rose by a relatively slow 1.8 percent to 210 million tonnes last year, while gas output rose 9.8 percent to 120.9 billion cubic metres (bcm), including 117.7 bcm of conventional natural gas production, 3 bcm of coalbed methane and 200 million cubic metres of shale gas.
Geological oil resources in China stood at 103.7 billion tonnes by the end of 2013, up 36 percent from 2007, while geological natural gas resources rose 77 percent from 2007 to 62 trillion cubic metres.  Gas production is expected to rise 10 bcm annually to 300 bcm in 2030 and make up half of China's oil and gas production by around 2025, it said. Production of unconventional gas, including shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas, is estimated to account for a third of China's oil and gas production in 2030, it added.

Rise of Non-Fossil Fuels in China’s Energy Mix
Reuters (January 14, 2014)
Non-fossil fuels generated 9.8 percent of China's energy in 2013, up from 9.1 percent the previous year, while coal's share in the energy mix fell slightly, state media reported Tuesday.  China's overall energy consumption rose 3.9 percent from the previous year to 3.76 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, the state-owned Economic Information Daily said, citing unnamed official sources.  Coal's share of total energy production fell to 65.7 percent last year, according to the newspaper, and is expected to fall below the 65 percent mark in 2014.  Non-fossil fuels, meanwhile, are set to grow their share to 10.7 percent, it said.  Total energy consumption this year is expected to grow 3.5 percent this year to 3.89 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, according to the paper.

China's Wetlands Shrink By 9 Percent
Reuters (January 13, 2014)
China's wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2003, forestry officials said on Monday, aggravating water scarcity in a country where food production, energy output and industrial activity are already under pressure from water shortages.  Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 sq. km. - an area larger than the Netherlands - have disappeared, officials of China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.  The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.  Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government's last survey in 2003, Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, added.  The loss of water resources also places additional pressure on China's energy supply as nearly 70 percent of China's energy production depends on water-intensive coal power. Although 9 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) was earmarked to protect wetlands during 2005 to 2010, just 38 percent of those funds were actually allocated, said forestry official Zhang.  

Undersea Freshwater Resources Could Alleviate Some of China's Water Shortages
Chinadialogue (January 8, 2014)
Scientists have discovered potentially vast undersea reserves of groundwater, close to many coastlines around the world, which could provide essential resources for water-scarce regions including China and Australia.  The study, published in Nature earlier this month, estimates there are half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity groundwater buried under the seabed worldwide. Substantial amounts are thought to sit under the coastlines of Europe and the North Sea, as well as in the East China Sea, the US East Coast and Southern Australia. According to Jacobus Groen, professor at the University of Amsterdam and one of the paper’s co-authors, some reserves could contain enough water to last thirsty megacities such as Shanghai for “hundreds, or even thousands of years”.  In China, where water pollution and groundwater over-extraction has created acute water shortages along the coast and in cities, such reserves could be valuable. On Shengsi Island, east of Shanghai in Zhejiang province, the Chinese government has already started to develop offshore aquifers to alleviate the town’s water-scarcity. Switching from onshore to offshore groundwater extraction would also help mitigate the subsidence problems facing cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
Air Pollution Leads Up to 500,000 Premature Deaths in China, According to Former Health Minister
The Daily Telegraph (January 7, 2014)
Chen Zhu, the former Health Minister of China until last year, concedes that "studies by the World Bank, WHO, and the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning on the effect of air pollution on health concluded that between 350,000 and 500,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of outdoor air pollution in China."  Mr Chen's claim came in a commentary in December's issue of the Lancet, co-written with Wang Jinnan, Ma Guoxia and Zhang Yanshen from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.  He added that air pollution has become "the fourth biggest threat to the health of Chinese people" (behind heart disease, dietary risk and smoking) and that lung cancer is "now the leading cause of death from malignant tumours in the country".  The estimate that the authors quoted, however, is lower than the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, also published in the Lancet, which estimated that airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) caused 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010 alone.  Nevertheless, Mr Chen's commentary is particularly notable because in 2007 Chinese censors removed a claim that air pollution caused 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths from a joint report between the World Bank and the Chinese government.

China Industrial Plants Breach Emission Standards
Bloomberg (January 14, 2014)
Steel factories and thermal power plants in eastern China that provide real-time emissions data frequently exceed national standards, a study led by an environmental group in Beijing said yesterday.  Companies from those industries based in the provinces of Shandong and Hebei were in “serious breach” of discharge standards even during periods of severe air pollution, the report by the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs said.  IPE studied data from industrial facilities in three eastern provinces that have begun releasing real-time information since July as part of a project initiated by China’s environment ministry.

Chinese State Utilities Move on Preferential Rules in Carbon Markets
Reuters (January 8, 2014)
China's state-owned enterprises get preferential treatment in carbon markets as they can apply directly to the central government for eligibility, while private firms face a time-consuming process to get approval from regional authorities before they can turn to Beijing.  "This will cut compliance costs for the state-owned companies, and since they are first in line to take on targets in the envisaged national (carbon) market, the earlier they move, the less costly it will be for them," said Chen Bo, a researcher at the Central University of Finance and Economics.  State enterprises own six of the first seven projects up for consideration later this week by a technical panel under the offset programme. China General Nuclear runs four of them, all wind farms.  Companies covered by carbon markets in Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin must hand permits to regulators to cover for their 2013 emissions by the end of June, and getting low-cost credits issued by then will be a race against time, especially for private firms.  Traders say it will take 6 to 8 months from the design phase until a project can receive its first CCERs.
'Beijing Besieged by Waste' Filmmaker Turns Attention to Trash Trade 
South China Morning Post (January 13, 2014)
Over the past two years, Wang Jiuliang, the filmmaker behind the award-winning 2011 documentary, "Beijing Besieged by Waste," has broadened the scope of his investigations to include the country's trade in trash. In 2011, China imported eight million tonnes of plastic waste. Wang plans to release his second film in August, to show audiences the disturbing reality of a country besieged by waste from around the world.  "China has long been the largest dump site of developed countries' waste - discarded electrical and electronic equipment, construction waste and, most dangerous of all, plastics," says Wang. "All Chinese know Japan does very well at sorting its rubbish. What they do not know is most of our neighboring countries' plastic waste ends up in China."  Although both countries have set up strict rules regulating waste-processing facilities, he has filmed many family-style recycling workshops that operate without treating the highly polluted waste water that they generate.

(CENA prepared by Jeffrey Wong)

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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