China Environmental News Alert
Posted July 4, 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 30-July 4, 2014
New tribunals target environment violators
Xinhua News (July 4, 2014)
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has set up a tribunal for environment cases, to enlarge the role of the judiciary in solving environmental conflicts. The tribunal will hear civil cases involving pollution, exploitation of resources and conservation of the environment such as forests and rivers, said SPC spokesman Sun Jungong on Thursday. It will also hear appeals from lower courts, supervise environment cases in lower courts and draft judicial explanations, Sun said. The tribunal will set the standards for environment cases, protect people's environmental rights and fight pollution. About 134 special environment tribunals have been established at local courts in 16 provincial divisions since the first was founded in southwest China's Guizhou Province in 2007. All provincial high courts will now set up similar institutions, while city and lower courts can decide based on their own conditions, said Zheng Xuelin, chief judge of the tribunal.
China's Hurdle to Fast Action on Climate Change
The New York Times (July 1, 2014)
In Beijing, He Jiankun, an academic and deputy director of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference that China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, would for the first time put “an absolute cap” on its emissions. His comments, and the brief flurry set off over whether they represented government policy, highlight a little-appreciated feature of the long-running, often acrimonious debate over how to slow climate change. The most pressing issue is not whether the United States will manage to wean itself from coal, or even about how quickly the American economy can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The most pressing issue is to what extent and under which conditions China will participate in the global effort to combat climate change. Any hopes that American commitments to cut carbon emissions will have a decisive impact on climate change rely on the assumption that China will reciprocate and deliver aggressive emission cuts of its own.
Shanghai firms meet carbon targets after last-day permit auction
Reuters (June 30, 2014)
A total of 7,220 tonnes of CO2 permits were auctioned by the Shanghai carbon exchange on Monday, the bourse said, enabling local firms to meet a deadline to comply with their carbon targets.
The permits, sold to companies at a minimum price of 48 yuan ($7.73) per tonne, were only a small fraction of the 580,000 tonnes of permits put on offer by the Shanghai government, but were enough to allow seven laggard firms to meet their targets, the exchange confirmed.
Beijing expects healthy air by 2030
China Daily (July 2, 2014)
The Chinese capital's fine-particulate pollutant intensity is expected to drop to the internationally recognized safe level in 16 years, environmental authorities said. Pan Tao, head of the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection, said the concentration of PM2.5 - particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrograms or less per cubic meter - is likely to be reduced regularly to no more than 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 2030. The World Health Organization has said the concentration of PM2.5 should be no greater than 35 micrograms per cubic meter.
Air quality with a higher intensity is considered unhealthy, especially for the old and young, and those with heart and lung problems. The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said that the intensity of PM2.5 in 2013 was 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter - still two and a half times above the standard.
The bureau's recently released plan said the intensity of PM2.5 is to be reduced to 60 micrograms per cubic meter.
China sees long road to cleaning up pollution
The New York Times (July 2, 2014)
A trickle of statements from Chinese leaders in recent months have given hope to some residents of Beijing and other smog-choked Chinese cities that they might regularly breathe clean air within a few years. Prime Minister Li Keqiang in March declared a “war against pollution,” for instance. But China Daily, an official English-language newspaper, came in with a reality check on Wednesday in the form of an article published under the headline “Beijing Expects Healthy Air by 2030.” The article went on to say that it would be 16 years before levels of dangerous fine particulate matter in the Chinese capital would drop to an “internationally recognized safe level.” The fine particulate matter is known as PM 2.5 because its diameter is less than 2.5 microns. It can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
World's next tallest tower: Super green, very pink
CNN (June 26, 2014)
The towers are designed to have green features such as pollution-absorbing surfaces to filter the city's air as well as technology to aerate and filter the water. Thermal chimneys, suspended air gardens and biomass boilers for waste recycling are also part of the plan. The towers are designed to be able to generate enough power to fulfill their own needs and those of neighboring areas. "The Feng tower uses cutting-edge technology to 'feed' the Huang tower with renewable power in a symbiotic process," the design firm said in a statement. The two towers will cover seven hectares of a 47-hectare site on the island.
China deploys drones against pollution
Bloomberg (July 1, 2014)
In an effort to identify and crack down on factories that violate China’s green laws, the country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has turned to an unlikely weapon: drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles, which are equipped with infrared cameras, can detect whether factories illegally release emissions at times when inspectors aren’t present, according to the ministry. So far its four drones have flown watchdog missions over Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, and Inner Mongolia—all heavily polluted regions in coal-reliant northern China.
UN Climate Summit: The chance to prove that we are climate leaders
The Huffington Post (July 2, 2014)
When world leaders gather at the United Nations in New York this September for Ban Ki-moon's Climate Change Summit, it will be the first time in five years that heads of state and government have stopped to focus collectively on the gathering storm called climate change. For a country like my own -- lying at an average of just two meters above sea level and already battling the devastating impacts of a warming world -- there is no higher calling.
The world has changed a lot since Copenhagen: the science has become more alarming; the impacts more severe; and the politics more potent. The world's two biggest polluters -- China and the United States -- have put energy and climate change at the heart of their bilateral relationship. And for the first time, the world's businesspeople and bankers are saying that climate inaction is an economic risk we cannot afford to take. As former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in theNew York Times last week, "the costs of the policies necessary to make the transition to an economy powered by clean energy are real, but modest relative to the risks." Suddenly, a new global deal seems to be within reach.
(CENA prepared by Vivian Yao)
*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.