China Environmental News Alert
Posted June 22, 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.
June 14 - 22, 2014
China shuts factory after hundreds of children poisoned
The Telegraph (June 16, 2014)
A chemical plant believed to have poisoned hundreds of Chinese children has been forced to close despite claims from a local politician that their ailments had been caused by chewing pencils. The Meilun Chemical Materials factory in Hunan province’s Hengdong county hit the headlines earlier this year after reports suggested it had been responsible for a health crisis that has left more than 300 children with excessive levels of lead in their blood. The plant had been pumping untreated waste into the region’s waters and air, stunting the growth of some local children and leaving others seriously ill, residents told CCTV, the state broadcaster.
Guangdong protests against waste incinerators turn violent
The Nanfang (June 19, 2014)
Several people were injured and detained when hundreds of homeowners in Panyu, south of Guangzhou, clashed with local authorities during a protest against the construction of a local waste disposal plant, reported Radio Free Asia. Approximately 1,000 homeowners in the Fairview Peninsula protested on Wednesday by blocking traffic in and out of the facility located less than 20 meters from the local kindergarten. Eyewitnesses say physical confrontations broke out between the protestors, police, and a large group of “unidentified men”, and that approximately ten protestors were taken away by police. The homeowners are upset at not having been consulted or made aware of the new waste disposal plant prior to its construction.
China 'Energy Revolution' Needed To Meet Soaring Energy Demand And Cut Pollution Problems, President Xi Says
International Business Times (June 16, 2014)
China’s top leader is calling for a “revolution in energy” as rising demand for electricity and fuel threatens to exacerbate supply constraints and worsen the country’s already crippling pollution problems. President Xi Jinping said Friday that his administration is working on new guidelines to reform energy production and consumption in the country and will speed up revisions to outdated energy regulations, the official Xinhua state news agency reported. “To ensure national energy security, China needs to take steps to rein in irrational energy use and control the country’s energy consumption by fully implementing energy-saving policies,” Xi said, speaking at a meeting of China’s top economic policy group, the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs.
Beijing emitters ignore carbon scheme, question government authority: media
Reuters (June 13, 2014)
More than a quarter of all companies covered by Beijing's municipal carbon laws ignored a key reporting deadline, local media reported Friday, with some powerful companies questioning the local government trading body's authority to regulate them. Beijing's carbon trading market, one of six set up in China to rein in rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions, caps carbon dioxide from nearly 500 local enterprises. Most of them must hand over permits to the government to cover for their emissions, while some must only report their CO2 levels. But 140 of them missed an April deadline to submit a verified report of their 2013 emissions, local newspapers reported on Friday, a key to determining how many permits each firm must hand over to the government to cover for CO2 output. Some of the firms implied that Beijing's Development and Reform Commission (DRC), which operates the scheme, did not have the authority to issue orders.
Yellow River Flooding in China Caused by Human Intervention, Not Mother Nature
Nature World News (June 20, 2014)
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have linked the deadly floods of China's Yellow River to a widespread pattern of human-caused environmental degradation and related flood-mitigation efforts that began changing the river's natural flow nearly 3,000 years ago. Over the years, Mother Nature has taken the heat for massive flooding along the Yellow River, including the catastrophic event of AD 14-17 that likely killed the 9.5 million people in its path. Now, new research shows that it's humans that are to blame.
Soil Pollution in China Still a State Secret Despite Recent Survey
Scientific American (June 18, 2014)
On March 17, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources released the first-ever results of a nationwide soil pollution survey that took place from 2005 to 2013. International media have commended the release, which revealed startling statistics such as one-fifth of arable land is polluted and contaminated with inorganic chemicals like cadmium, nickel and arsenic. On the surface, it seems, soil pollution, which was once a “state secret,” is no longer. Soil pollution is a serious concern in China, particularly with respect to the human health implications resulting from contaminated water and food. However, while this report represents a significant step toward greater transparency with respect to pollution in China, it still lags in some key aspects and raises questions as to what can be done about the problem, the full extent of which is still unknown.
Nuclear Regulators ‘Overwhelmed’ as China Races to Launch World's Most Powerful Reactor
Bloomberg (June 19, 2014)
China is moving quickly to become the first country to operate the world’s most powerful atomic reactor even as France’s nuclear regulator says communication and cooperation on safety measures with its Chinese counterparts are lacking. In the coastal city of Taishan, 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the financial hub of Hong Kong, Chinese builders are entering the final construction stages for two state-of-the-art European Pressurized Reactors. Each will produce about twice as much electricity as the average reactor worldwide. France has a lot riding on a smooth roll out of China’s EPRs. The country is home to Areva SA (AREVA), which developed the next-generation reactor, and utility Electricite de France SA, which oversees the project. The two companies, controlled by the French state, need a safe, trouble-free debut in China to ensure a future for their biggest new product in a generation. And French authorities have not hidden their concerns.
Super-grid: China masters long-distance power transmission
Reuters (June 19, 2014)
China’s power engineers have become world leaders in ultra-high-voltage transmission systems connecting far-off power sources with cities hungry for electricity. China already has seven ultra-high-voltage (UHV) lines in operation, more than any other country, carrying power over thousands of kilometers at around 800,000 or even 1 million volts. In April, the government gave the go-ahead to build another line operating at 1 million volts between rural Anhui province and the cities of Nanjing and Shanghai. The National Energy Administration, which is part of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic regulator, has ambitious plans for as many as 12 inter-regional ultra-high-voltage transmission corridors spanning the country.
Climate change thawing Tibet plateau's frozen earth
Xinhua (June 17, 2014)
The perennial frozen earth on China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has shrunk by 16 percent over the past three decades as a result of global warming, according to new research results. The volume of frozen earth on the plateau has decreased from 1.5 million to 1.26 million square km, researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) found after decades of study using remote sensing and satellite monitoring. The thawing of the frozen earth is an immediate result of global warming, as the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at an average altitude of 4,500 meters, is extremely vulnerable to climate change, said a research paper published by the CAS Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and seen by Xinhua on Monday.
China to accelerate nuclear power development
Xinhua (June 16, 2014)
China still relies too heavily on coal for power, with nuclear power seen as the route to an optimized energy structure and cleaner growth. In a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs on Friday, President Xi Jinping said clean and efficient use of coal and development of other energy sources were crucial to development plans. An energy supply system should be driven diversely by coal, oil, gas, nuclear, new energy and renewable resources, he said. "By adopting top international standards and ensuring safety, China should lose no time in constructing nuclear power projects in eastern coastal regions," he said. At the end of 2013, nuclear power accounted for a paltry 2.11 percent of China's total, dwarfed by 80.4 percent of thermal power and 15 percent for hydropower. The installed nuclear power capacity represented only 1.19 percent to total power generation capacity.
Broccoli-Sprout Beverage Can Detoxify Pollutants
Time (June 17, 2014)
China has a serious pollution problem and it’s harming the health of people who live there—even those living outside of the biggest cities. But scientists from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health think they’ve found a very simple and cost-effective solution. Or at least something that could curb risk. Their answer is a broccoli-sprout beverage.
(CENA prepared by Kate Logan)
*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.