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Greenlaw from NRDC China’s Blog

China Environmental News Alert- September 4, 2014

Greenlaw from NRDC China

Posted September 4, 2014

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August 16 - September 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.

China's carbon plans: secrecy and oversupply darken outlook
Reuters (August 17, 2014)
As China lays down plans for a national carbon trading scheme, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases risks repeating mistakes made in carbon trading in Europe by flooding its pilot markets with free permits. Fifteen traders, brokers and consultants speaking to Reuters said that most of China's pilot markets launched last year were riddled with an over-allocation of permits, bar pockets of scarcity, such as parts of the Beijing market and the electricity generation sector in Shanghai. None of the regional governments operating pilot schemes has released data on the amount of CO2 the companies receiving permits were estimated to have emitted last year or how this compared to the number of permits handed out. They have published approximate numbers for how many permits they gave out then, ranging from 350 million in Guangdong to around 33 million in Shenzhen. No information has been released on how many permits have been issued for 2014 or whether they are giving out more or fewer than last year. But local governments under pressure from Beijing to get the schemes up and running reportedly handed out too many permits to ensure industries came on board, threatening their capacity to actually rein in emissions, according to industry sources. "They have given out many more permits than the companies need," said one trader at a firm active in several of the markets, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of commenting on the issue in China.

McDonald's, Yum release supplier data after China food safety scare
Reuters (August 11, 2014)
Five fast food chains including McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc have published details of their suppliers on their Chinese websites, following a request from Shanghai authorities after the latest food safety scare. Shanghai's Municipal Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday that it had asked the two chains, along with Burger King, Dicos and Carl's Jr, to publish the usually closely-guarded information as part of efforts to strengthen oversight of food suppliers. The five firms were among a range of companies that were supplied meat by Shanghai Husi Food, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, which was alleged by a TV report to have improperly handled meat and used expired food. The Shanghai authority said the companies published the information on Aug. 9.

End of the line: GMO production in China halted
RT News (August 21, 2014)
In a surprise U-turn, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to continue with a program which developed genetically-modified rice and corn. Some environmentalists say public concerns about GM crops played a key role in the decision.  On August 17, when these permits were up for renewal, the Ministry of Agriculture decided not to extend them. In 2009, the ministry's Biosafety Committee issued approval certificates to develop the two crops, rice and corn.  Developed by the Huazhong Agricultural University, near Wuhan, it was hoped that the GMO strains would help to reduce pesticide use by 80 percent, while raising yields by as much as 8 percent, said Huang Jikun, the chief scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters in 2009. It is illegal to sell genetically-modified rice on the open market in China.  However in July, GM rice was found on sale in a large supermarket in Wuhan, which is just across the Yangtze River from the Huazhong Agricultural University, where the product was developed, which caused a public outcry.

China said to mull subsidies for energy-saving appliances
Bloomberg (August 22, 2014)
China is considering a plan to offer subsidies to encourage wider use of energy-saving home appliances, people familiar with the matter said. The State Council would need to approve the subsidies plan, which targets makers of appliances including energy-efficient air conditioners and refrigerators, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The Ministry of Finance, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Commerce are drafting the plan, they said. The subsidies would follow a yearlong program begun in 2012 offering financial incentives to consumers of energy-efficient appliances. China’s household electronic sales rose 8.6 percent in the first seven months of the year, lower than the 15 percent sales growth in the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Companies would need to submit applications for their products to qualify for the subsidies, according to the people, who said there was no timeframe for when the proposal may be approved.

China considering $16 billion for electric-vehicle chargers
Bloomberg (August 27, 2014)
China is considering providing as much as 100 billion yuan ($16.25 billion) in government funding to build electric-vehicle charging facilities and spur demand for clean cars, according to two people familiar with the matter. The policy will be announced soon, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The people declined to provide further details of the plan such as how long the program would last or whether the chargers would be compatible with cars made by Tesla Motors. Increased state funding would be a tailwind for carmakers coping with consumer concerns over the price, reliability and convenience of electric vehicles. It would also build on efforts by China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, to fight pollution and cultivate its local EV industry, which includes BYD Co. and Kandi Technologies Group Inc. Kandi rose 4.5 per cent yesterday to $US19.09. "Charging infrastructure and EV growth is a chicken-and- egg situation," said Ashvin Chotai, managing director of researcher Intelligence Automotive Asia. "It's got to be a gradual process to scale up both EV sales as well as charging infrastructure. EVs are still not very attractive when compared with conventional-powered cars."

Beijing expands carbon trading scheme, includes public transport
Reuters (August 21, 2014)
The Beijing municipal government will add 120 companies to its emissions trading scheme from 2014, bringing in sectors like public transport in a bid to strengthen control over the city's rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions.The capital is one of seven cities and provinces in China that have launched pilot carbon markets ahead of a national scheme within 2020, as the world's biggest-emitting nation seeks to limit its impact on global warming. The Beijing scheme was launched last year, covering 490 companies in the power, heating and manufacturing sectors, as well as some public buildings. A further 120 companies will be brought in from 2014, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

Xi Jinping's Mongolia trip focuses on energy, infrastructure
South China Morning Post (August 19, 2014)
China will sign a series of energy and infrastructure deals with Mongolia as part of President Xi Jinping's two-day state visit to the neighbouring country this week, according to the Foreign Ministry. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Jianchao said yesterday that the trip would also yield support for Mongolia's plans to boost cross-border transport through China. The trip, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, comes as China tries to expand its influence in Central Asia by promoting its idea of a Silk Road Economic Belt, an initiative designed to expand economic cooperation in the region. It also comes as China continues to look beyond its borders to meet its growing economy's increasing demand for energy and resources.

China signs gas agreements with Uzbekistan
Interfax (August 21, 2014)
China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) signed two gas deals with Uzbekistan’s state energy company during a visit by the country’s president to China this week, the company announced on Thursday. One deal relates to an agreement between CNPC and Uzbekneftegaz over Line D, the fourth line of the Central Asia-China Pipeline (CACP), CNPC said in a statement. The second deal is a memorandum of understanding to build a gas chemical plant in Uzbekistan. The deals were signed in Beijing on Tuesday in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov. Xi stressed both sides should jointly build the Silk Road economic belt, and prioritise the construction and operation of Line D, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. Under the agreement, CNPC and Uzbekneftegaz will establish a joint venture company to construct and operate the Uzbek section of Line D. Once the pipeline goes online, CACP will have an annual capacity of 85 bcm – making it the largest gas transmission system in Central Asia. CNPC and China’s central government have agreed on a route for the pipeline, which begins in Turkmenistan and passes through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan before finishing in China, Wang Haiyun, director of the Energy Diplomacy Research Centre at the China Foundation of International Studies, told Interfax.

Cool roofs in China can save energy and reduce emissions (August 28, 2014)

Working with Chinese researchers, the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has conducted the first comprehensive study of cool roofs in China and concluded that they would be effective in substantially reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in climate zones with hot summers.  The team simulated both residential and office buildings in seven Chinese cities in five climate zones, evaluating energy use throughout the year. They also conducted short-term experiments on an office building in Chongqing and a factory in Foshan (near Guangzhou). They found that for the region of China roughly from Shanghai on south, light-colored "cool" roofs that reduce the need for air conditioning can lower annual energy cost, as well as annual emissions of CO2, NOx, and SO2. The results were recently published in a paper in Energy Policy titled, "Cool roofs in China: Policy review, building simulations, and proof-of-concept experiments." "Cool roofs have been well demonstrated in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere," said lead author and Berkeley Lab scientist Ronnen Levinson. "While the concept is the same everywhere, we wanted to show that cool roofs would also be effective for Chinese construction, in Chinese climates, and with Chinese building operation practices." By reflecting more sunlight, cool roofs reduce heat flow into the building, which lowers energy consumption and power-plant emissions if the building is air-conditioned. For buildings without air conditioning, the sunlight absorbed by a dark roof heats the space below, making it less comfortable. Hot, dark roofs on any building also warm the city air, aggravating what is known as the urban heat island effect. Additionally, while nearly 80 percent of the sunlight reflected from a roof can escape to outer space, the "thermal infrared" energy radiated by a hot, dark roof is trapped by greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and water vapor, warming the atmosphere.

(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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