China Environmental News Alert
Posted May 12, 2013
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.
May 2-9, 2013
Beijing's air pollution is sometimes so bad that citizens walk the streets wearing masks, and new arrivals immediately feel their throats rasping. With record levels of smog enveloping major Chinese cities, air pollution — especially the fine particles with diameters of less than 2.5 micrometres, known as PM2.5, which penetrate deep into the lungs — is replacing food safety and clean drinking water as a key theme for Chinese lawmakers, and the nation has finally laid out a plan to tackle air pollution. By 2015, the government aims to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 by 5%, of PM10 by 10% and of other pollutants by up to 10%, in 117 cities in 13 key regions of the country.
The new Joint-U.S. China Statement on Climate Change, signed during Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China on April 13th, is extraordinarily symbolic because it recognizes that forceful cooperation and intensified action by the United States and China - the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas - is crucial to containing climate change. This new agreement raises the bar as it is supposed to “set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world”. This is an important new signal from these two key players, but only if it delivers specific actions that match the strong rhetoric.
Spring has arrived and this year, the greenery is not just outdoors: NRDC’s office in Beijing has been awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification for Commercial Interior design (LEED-CI).There were many different aspects to take into consideration during the LEED application process. We started from the very beginning of selecting an office building that was close to multiple bus routes and subway lines, along with bicycle storage units offered on site
The European Commission has proposed a tough 47pc “anti-dumping” tariff to penalise the imports, it emerged on Wednesday.The move would benefit European manufacturers, who allege their Chinese rivals - whose panels are as much as 45pc cheaper - are unfairly subsidised by Beijing. Chinese solar panel production quadrupled between 2009 and 2011, exceeding global demand, and EU manufacturers say China has now captured 80pc of the European market. However, action against the Chinese imports is fiercely opposed by European solar panel installation companies which have thrived on the cheap supply and claim that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at risk.
The concern over the worsening pollution in Chinese cities has become a part of the national discourse and debate. It’s been serious enough to have the government introduce far-reaching policy changes to tackle the problem. A clear sunny day in Beijing. A sight Beijingers often struggle to see when faced with overbearing pollution. Pollution many say, is caused by polluting industries around the capital. The kind of industries that are now visible on a map. And an interactive digital one at that.
The end of a 14-year ban on the sale and use of disposable food containers made of plastic foam has sparked concerns over pollution and potential health risks. The time was right for the ban to end, the National Development and Reform Commission said, as plastic foam could now be recycled to become raw materials in construction, paints and stationery. A decision to ban plastic foam dinnerware was imposed in 1999 over environmental pollution concerns.
Hundreds of people have rallied in the Chinese city of Kunming to protest at plans for a factory producing a toxic chemical for the textile industry. Some demonstrators wore symbolic masks and brandished posters warning against the dangers of a paraxylene (PX) spill. "We want to survive, we want health, get PX out of Kunming", a banner read. Two years ago, protests against a PX factory in the city of Dalian forced the city government to close the plant, though it reportedly re-opened later. Saturday's protest in Kunming, in the south-west of the country, attracted at least 200 people, according to state media. Chinese bloggers, however, put the number at up to 2,000. The China National Petroleum Corporation plans to build a chemical plant in the nearby town of Anning to produce 500,000 tonnes of PX annually. PX is used to create raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabrics.
Chinese white dolphins, nicknamed "pink dolphins," are rarely spotted in Hong Kong waters. However, the near-threatened species is becoming even more uncommon, and conservationists warn that Hong Kong risks losing the dolphins altogether unless immediate action is taken.
CNTV (May 9, 2013)More than 60 percent of respondents to a recent survey said they are unsatisfied with, or unclear of, transparent government information regarding environmental protection. The survey, conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center under Shanghai Jiao Tong University, aims to find out residents' attitudes toward the country's environmental protection and how they evaluate government performance in this sector. The survey, released on Wednesday, polled 3,400 residents from 34 cities across the country in March and April. Only 37.4 percent of the respondents said they believe governments are doing a good job in revealing information about environmental protection, while the others said they are not satisfied with government performance or they have no idea of it, according to the survey.
China's environmental watchdog punished 15 factories, as well as companies in two industrial parks, in the first quarter of the year for violations that resulted in water or air pollution. The factories either had their production suspended, were given a deadline to correct their practices or ordered to move their projects to other places and compensate those affected, said a release from the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Wednesday.
China's environmental woes have attracted a lot of attention internationally since the start of the new year. Air pollution was first up in January as levels in a number of cities, including the capital Beijing, hit lung clogging off the record levels. Dubbed the 'air-pocalypse', hazardous smog left air pollution left cities enveloped in a thick layer of smog. And just last month water pollution took an unusual form in Shanghai after thousands of dead pigs were found floating in the city's main river which provides drinking water for up to 20 per cent of the city's 23 million residents. Concerns have also been raised about dangerous levels of soil pollution after heavy metals were found in soil samples.
(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.