China Environmental News Alert
Posted August 9, 2012 in Greening China
NRDC has been working in China for over fifteen years on such issues as energy efficiency, green buildings, clean energy technologies, environmental governance and public participation, and green supply chain issues. This China Environmental News Alert is a compilation of news from around the world on China and the environment.
August 3, 2012 – August 9, 2012
New York Times (August 9, 2012)
Some manufacturers of gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration have earned millions by accumulating emissions credits from the destruction of an obscure waste gas normally released as a byproduct. This incentive has encouraged producers to increase production of the coolant - a huge problem because the coolant itself contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. While the UN and EU are trying to remove this adverse incentive, China and India, home to most of the factories benefitting from the loophole, are resisting strongly.
China Daily (August 9, 2012)
As coal power plants continue to provide upwards of 70% of China’s energy, the country remains a hub for R&D directed at decreasing the pollution produced by burning coal. One new technology, in particular, promises to reduce the nitrous oxide output produced by coal-burning plants by up to 65%, while also improving efficiency of energy output. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced in September of last year that starting in January, all Chinese power plants should adopt measures to meet new national standards for nitrogen oxide emissions in two years.
National Geographic (August 8, 2012)
The Chinese southwestern city of Chongqing has recently become the site of one of China’s first shale gas exploration sites. China sits on natural gas reserves 50% greater than those of the US and aims for this gas to provide 6% of the nation’s energy by 2020, providing hope for a cleaner energy future for the world’s number one green house gas producer. Yet questions remain about the short-term feasibility of this ambitious goal, as China lacks some of the experience and infrastructure that may be necessary to support hydraulic fracking.
Macleans (August 8, 20120)
China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s bid to purchase the Calgary-based Nexen Inc. last week was yet another in a series of state-sponsored attempts to acquire North American energy firms in the last year. The move has raised concerns about the environmental and political implications of having foreign, and specifically Chinese, state-run firms gain ownership in the Canadian oil sands and in general the North American energy sector.
United Press International (August 8, 2012)
China has announced new industry rules for rare earth production, a move expected to weed out smaller operations. While some officials have suggested that rare earth production rules are designed to protect the environment, others have directly stated that reducing the number of domestic rare earth companies is “good for fixing prices” and will help the Chinese government control the international market for rare earth metals.
The Guardian (August 7, 2012)
The town of Baotou, in Inner Mongolia, is the largest Chinese source of rare earth metals, essential to advanced technology, from smartphones to GPS receivers, but also to wind farms and, above all, electric cars. Yet studies have found that these rare-earth metals and the facilities used to process them are toxic to crops, animals and humans; the population of Baotou has fallen from 2,000 to 300 in the last 10 years.
The Science and Development Network (August 7, 2012)
China plans to build a centre for agricultural research and technological demonstration near Bamako, Mali, to carry out experiments and technical training, and to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in the country, according to an agreement between the two governments announced last month. The center will be built using a 55 million RMB (USD8.6 million) loan from China, and is part of China’s soft power diplomacy strategy.
Los Angeles Times (August 6, 2012)
Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets are washing up on Hong Kong beaches after a powerful typhoon sent “white plastic sacks of death” tumbling off a ship into the sea, environmental group Sea Shepherd Hong Kong said, warning that the spilled pellets could send chemicals up through the food chain.
Le Monde (August 6, 2012)
Thanks to micro-blogs and the Internet’s spreading the word, people in China have become more and more aware of environmental issues, taking a stand against big corporations. The state has responded with a mix of repression of protests and concessions, collectively designed to maintain stability and avoid escalation of the movement.
Industry Week (August 6, 2012)
EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani approached Greenland about rights to rare earth metal ores in return for technological and environmental mining know-how, but the Chinese were already there. China dominates much of the world’s rare earth metals market, protecting its holdings with export quotas that have been challenged by the EU, Japan and the US through the World Trade Organization.
China Dialogue (August 3, 2012)
China’s low-carbon city programs are doing well on public awareness, but an NGO survey finds little evidence of greener habits. While 99% of polled residents in the eight cities included in a low-carbon pilot program launched in 2010 had heard of climate-change and low-carbon lifestyles, few had actually changed their energy consumption patterns to increase environmental friendliness.
Sydney Morning Herald (August 3, 2012)
Hong Kong has urged people to stay indoors as the city chokes under the worst cloud of man-made air pollution the city has recorded, officials say. Activists claim the pollution is partially the product of Hong Kong’s own emissions and cannot be blamed solely on mainland China.
(CENA prepared by Jack Marzulli)
* 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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