China Environmental News Alert
Posted April 11, 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.
April 6th - April 11th, 2014
Five Revelations from the U.S. Embassy's Beijing pollution data dump
Wall Street Journal (April 10, 2014)
Beijing residents have often wondered whether the city’s air pollution is getting better or worse.
Although the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese government both publish air-quality readings every hour, limited historical data is publicly available. This partly changed last month when the U.S. State Department posted online a treasure trove of data showing hourly readings taken since 2008 at an air-monitoring station at its Beijing embassy.
China's smog splits expatriate families as companies pay for fresh air
Bloomberg (April 8, 2014)
As a thick smog hung over Beijing last year, Stephanie Giambruno and her husband decided it was time for her and their two girls to return to the U.S.
Giambruno’s husband stayed back in China for his job as general manager of a global technology company. He now skypes with the family twice a day and lives with “constant jet lag” as he travels to Florida once a month to see them, she says.While it’s hard to be apart, Giambruno says Beijing’s record air pollution left them no choice. She saw friends’ children develop asthma. Their own daughters, at age 6 and 21 months, were often forced to remain indoors.
Beijing's neighbors resist transfer of its polluting industries
New York Times (April 9, 2014)
Beijing’s latest effort to move energy-intensive, polluting businesses out of the Chinese capital has run into resistance from regional governments who are unenthusiastic about taking more industrial castoffs.
For several years, Beijing has relocated heavy industry out of the capital while encouraging the development of service businesses that churn out less pollution. The effort was heavily promoted ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, when nearly 200 chemical, coking and steel works moved out of the capital. In 2011, Shougang Group, which ran a large steel plant in western Beijing that had opened in 1919, completed a transfer of its operations 140 miles to the southeast.
Introducing China's future megalopolis: the Jing-Jin-Ji
Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2014)
If China’s state planners have their way, Northeast China will soon be home to a massive regional hub with a population five times that of the New York metropolitan area.
Officials hope the Jing-Jin-Ji region — shorthand for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the three areas that they plan to grow increasingly integrated — will become an immense megalopolis to rival any in the world. (Ji is a one-character abbreviation often used for Hebei province.) Together, the three regions have a combined population of more than 100 million, or some 10% of China’s one billion-plus people.
China runs into natural resources pushback
Wall Street Journal (April 3, 2014)
Strategists have long feared that China's quest for natural resources would lead to ever-higher prices, a breakdown in trade and perhaps even wars. But a stunning rebuke to Chinese manipulation last week at the World Trade Organization is a sign that the global system is far more resilient than the worriers have claimed.
The ruling made public on March 26 centered on the Chinese strategy of restricting exports of raw materials—most notably rare earth elements such as cerium and neodymium used in high-tech defense and energy systems—to give Chinese companies a leg up and inflict damage on other resource consumers. The WTO panel declared the restrictions illegal and opened the door to retaliatory tariffs from the United States, Japan and others.
Putin may sign China gas deal as crisis forces Russia's hand
Bloomberg (April 10, 2014)
Vladimir Putin is more likely to sign a 30-year deal to supply pipeline gas to China next month after more than a decade of false starts because the crisis in Ukraine is forcing Russia to look for markets outside Europe.
While Putin and President Xi Jinping will make the final decision in Beijing next month, Russia’s need for new customers means it’s pushing to complete a deal first mooted in 1997, a manager at gas-export monopoly OAO Gazprom (GAZP) and a government official said, asking not to be named because talks are ongoing. In China yesterday, Russia’s deputy prime minister said he “hoped” a deal would be signed in May.
The Economist (April 4, 2014)
Demonstrations against a petrochemical plant have this week reverberated throughout cities in China’s south-eastern Guangdong province, at times becoming riotous. The unrest began on March 30th, when 1,000 protestors assembled outside government buildings in Maoming, a city in southern China’s industrial heartland. They objected to long-standing plans for a 3.5 billion yuan ($563m) paraxylene (PX) plant, a joint venture between the local government and Sinopec, a state-owned oil and gas company. Paraxylene, a chemical in polyester fabric and plastic bottles, is dangerous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. After several days of protest in Maoming, by April 4th smaller sister demonstrations had broken out in the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Beijing eyes smog controls ahead of APEC meeting
Reuters (April 9, 2014)
China may revive 2008 Beijing Olympics-style air pollution controls when it holds a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in the often smog-shrouded capital in November, state media said on Thursday.
Officials are mulling traffic curbs based on license plate numbers to cut emissions and the closure of plants and construction sites during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, which draws many heads of state from the group's 21 member economies.
China’s addiction to hydropower in two dam maps
Quartz (April 8, 2014)
China’s dam rush is well underway. To meet its renewable energy goals by 2020, the country plans to increase hydropower capacity to 290 GW, more than the installed capacity of all the countries in Europe combined. Already home to half of the world’s “mega dams,” dams over 15 meters tall, China is planning to build about 181 dams on rivers in the southwest alone, according to a report by a consortium of Chinese environmental groups. The drawbacks to large-scale engineering on China’s rivers have been well documented, especially since the building of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project and one that officials admitted caused “urgent problems.” In the southwest, where pollution from expanding cities is already a problem, more than 70 of planned dams overlap areas that the environmental group Conservational International identifies as “biodiversity hotspots,” threatening local eco-systems, according to this interactive map from the Wilson Center.
China drills 7km borehole in 'roof of world' in oil and gas hunt
South China Morning Post (April 7, 2014)
Chinese exploration teams have drilled their deepest borehole yet in the "roof of the world".
They have punched a seven-kilometre borehole into the Tibetan Plateau in their bid to tap the region's oil and natural gas resources. It is the deepest borehole ever drilled at such extreme altitudes, according to mainland scientists who are following the project.
(CENA prepared by Jack Maher)
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