China Environmental News Alert
Posted November 14, 2012
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.
November 7 – November 15, 2012
AFP (November 12)
Chinese scientists on Sunday began a survey of the dwindling population of an endangered porpoise in the country's longest river, as the animal edges towards extinction from man-made threats. Researchers will spend more than a month tracking the finless porpoise -- known as the "river pig" in Chinese -- in the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway at more than 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles), organisers said.
Sydney Morning Herald (November 14)
Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels rose 2.5 per cent to a record last year on surging pollution in China, Germany's IWR research institute said. Worldwide emissions rose 834 million metric tons to 33.99 billion tons, IWR said on its website. China's releases of the greenhouse gas climbed 6.5 per cent, offsetting declines in the US to 6 billion tonnes, Russia and Germany, the Muenster-based institute said. “If the current trend persists, global CO2 emissions will go up by another 20 per cent to over 40 billion tons by 2020,” Norbert Allnoch, the IWR's director, said in the statement.
Financial Times (November 8)
China needs a “drastic reduction” in its consumption of energy, water and land, and will introduce new caps for energy and water use in an effort to conserve resources, the country’s outgoing president said on Thursday. Speaking to the Communist party’s 18th Congress, President Hu Jintao delivered his strongest call yet for greater environmental protection. He spent about twice as much time on the topic as he did in a similar speech at the previous party Congress in 2007. Mr Hu said China would focus on environmental problems that “pose health hazards to the people” and take a “holistic approach” to preventing and controlling pollution in water, air and soil.
China Daily (November 13)
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is being held at a time when China is facing some critical economic challenges. Foremost among them is the balance that needs to be struck between economic growth and sustainable development. The concerns over environment, and the priority to be given to its preservation, were reflected in CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao's opening address to the 18th CPC Congress, where he put as much emphasis on ecological civilization and sustainable development as economic, political, cultural and social civilizations.
Telegraph (November 13)
There is something about Houwanggezhuang village Chinese authorities do not want the world to know.
Stone-faced freelance thugs patrol its streets. Residents are afraid to talk. By night a chemical factory located at its entrance is said to pump foul-smelling fumes into the air and a succession of villagers have lost their lives to cancer. "Quite a few people have had cancer in recent years," whispered one local woman, who declined to give her name. "We don't know the details." Located around 40 miles north-east of central Beijing, this tiny suburban village first made headlines in 2008 when a local newspaper reported suspicions that pollution from the factory had caused a spike in cancer-related deaths and described it as "a village shrouded in the shadow of cancer".
Associated Press (November 12)
The Chinese government will require that future industrial projects include assessments of their risk to social stability, following several large protests around the country over pollution, a top official said Monday. The government will also increase transparency and public involvement in decisions regarding large projects with potential environmental impact, Minister for Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian told reporters on the sidelines of a Communist Party congress at which a new generation of leaders will be installed.
PBS Newshour (November 13)
China's growing appetite for meat and dairy is driving big changes in everything from farming to food safety, reports Mary Kay Magistad, correspondent for Public Radio International's "The World" in the next installment of the "Food for 9 Billion" series airing on Tuesday's PBS NewsHour. The growing demand for meat has put a strain on China's land and water resources. Agriculture runoff, mostly manure from large-scale farms, is causing water pollution within the country. Because of water shortages, China imports 70 percent of its soybeans and increasing amounts of its corn from the United States, Brazil and Argentina to feed its cows and pigs, Magistad reports.
South China Morning Post (November 11)
Pollution and unhealthy lifestyle choices have contributed to a big rise in the incidence of birth defects on the mainland in the past 15 years, experts say. Last year, birth defects were detected in 1.53 per cent of newborns in their first seven days of life, up from 1.09 per cent in 2000 and 0.87 per cent in 1996, the Ministry of Health said in September. It said this rose to 5.6 per cent in the first five years of life because some conditions were hard to spot early on, but did not provide historical comparisons.
Financial Times (November 11)
When Danish enzyme maker Novozymes was looking for partners to help it make chemicals out of corn cobs, it came to China. And when German solar-panel maker Q-Cells was trying to sell a subsidiary that had developed a record-breaking technology for thin film solar panels, it found a buyer in China. The world’s largest energy consumer can seem like a Mecca of clean energy development, with a level of state support and commercial enthusiasm for new technologies that is almost unparalleled. The world’s biggest consumer of coal, thanks to the policies of the past decade, is now the world’s biggest producer of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric batteries.
China Daily (November 9)
The frequent stories about smog in China are covering up a development going on relatively unnoticed ... the rise of China as the clean-energy giant of the world. Yes, you read that right. Within our lifetimes, China could become the world leader in clean and renewable energy. The country is already first in the world in generating capacity from hydropower. It is first in wind power generation, which is growing faster here than anywhere else. Use of photovoltaic power generation and solar heating are also on the rise. As the country is still developing, the government has an opportunity, which it is taking advantage of, to build a more energy-efficient infrastructure.
China Daily (November 14)
China's ultra-high voltage transmission and new-energy industries will expand rapidly in the next three years, with a steady move into the overseas market, the chairman of a leading Chinese power transmission company said on Tuesday. "The government is going to approve many UHV transmission projects in the coming years, to satisfy the energy demand during the economic expansion," said Zhang Xin, chairman of the Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock Co Ltd (TBEA) in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, at a news conference of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Energy Tribune (November 12)
China’s breakthrough announcement last Spring that it had discovered massive amounts of shale gas deposits, allegedly surpassing that of US reserves, kept media buzzing in the US, abroad and particularly in China. In March, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources disclosed that China had 25.08 trillion cubic meters (Tcm) or 886 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of exploitable onshore shale-gas. The deposits, part of estimated 134.42 Tcm of potential resources gas in the country were discovered in 880,000 square kilometers (340,000 square miles) of exploration blocks that contain 15.96 Tcm of the fuel to be extracted. In order to develop these resources, China held its second shale gas auction last month.
Bloomberg (November 12)
China, the world’s biggest supplier of solar modules, will begin accepting new applications from regional governments seeking to qualify for subsidies through a second round of funding this year to develop solar projects. The government will subsidize projects of at least 5.5 yuan (88 cents) a watt if they’re completed by the end of June, China’s Ministry of Finance said in a Nov. 9 statement on its website. China will also offer subsidies of 25 yuan a watt for independent photovoltaic power plants in remote areas and 18 yuan a watt for residential systems.
ABC News (November 8)
In China a meeting is underway that will usher in a new team of leaders to rule over a quarter of the world's population. And today the Communist Party Congress opened with a speech from outgoing president Hu Jintao who praised his country's economy and criticised its pollution and its corruption.
New York Times (November 12)
Last summer, nearly half of India’s sweltering population suddenly found the electricity shut off. Air-conditioners whirred to a stop. Refrigerators ceased cooling. The culprits were outmoded power generation stations and a creaky electricity transmission grid. But another problem stood out. India relies on coal for 55 percent of its electric power and struggles to keep enough on hand. Coal remains a critical component of the world’s energy supply despite its bad image. In China, demand for coal in 2010 resulted in a traffic jam 75 miles long caused by more than 10,000 trucks carrying supplies from Inner Mongolia. India is increasing coal imports.
Our Amazing Planet (November 13)
How many finless porpoises are left in China's Yangtze River? An expedition is under way to count how many of these endangered animals survive in the heavily polluted waterway. There are less than 1,800 of the animals in the wild, mainly in the central and lower reaches of the 3,915-mile (6,300 kilometers) Yangtze River and two large adjoining lakes, Dongting and Poyang. Two recent surveys found that populations of the endangered animal, the only freshwater finless porpoise in the world, had plummeted in Dongting Lake. Numbers in Poyang, however, remained relatively stable — 450 porpoises were counted there, the WWF, which is helping to organize the expedition, reported.
CENA prepared by Tim Quijano
* 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.