Archive for ‘Pollution’

14/02/2015

China a Top Source of Ocean Trash: Report – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Marine biologists and ocean activists have grown alarmed about the seaborne plastic that fouls shorelines and clogs currents from the Arctic to the South Pacific. But the actual amount and source of it hasn’t been known because consumer habits and pollution-control practices vary so widely world-wide.

In a new accounting of global garbage, researchers in the U.S. and Australia led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, calculated the share that each of 192 countries could have contributed to plastic waste in the oceans. Their study is based on consumer data and waste-management information covering coastal populations around the world. The U.S. ranked 20th by the researchers’ estimates, deemed responsible for just under 1% of the mismanaged plastic waste.

Unchecked, the amount of plastic waste fouling the seas may double by 2025, reaching levels “equal to 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline,” Dr. Jambeck said.

According to the researchers, the coastal population of China generated 8.82 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010, about 27.7% of the world total. Of that, between 1.32 million and 3.53 million metric tons ended up as marine debris.

via China a Top Source of Ocean Trash: Report – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

14/02/2015

China must cut pollution by half before environment improves: official | Reuters

China needs to slash emission levels by as much as half before any obvious improvements are made to its environment, a senior government official said on Friday, underscoring the challenges facing the country after three decades of breakneck growth.

A man wearing a mask walks on a street on a hazy day in Beijing in this file photo taken on October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Zhai Qing, China’s deputy minister of environmental protection, told a briefing that pollutants had been cut by just “a few percentage points” since 2006 and had to drop much further if any progress is to be made.

“According to expert assessments, emissions will have to fall another 30-50 percent below current levels if we are to see noticeable changes in environmental quality,” he said.

China has vowed to close vast swathes of ageing heavy industrial capacity and slash coal consumption in heavily populated eastern coastal regions as part of its war on pollution.

Last November, it imposed draconian restrictions on industry throughout northern China in order to guarantee air quality during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in Beijing. Zhai said emissions in the region fell by more than 50 percent during the meeting.

He said China’s ability to control pollution was still “limited” and its policies still needed to be improved.

Only eight of the 74 cities monitored by the ministry met national pollution standards last year, according to official data published earlier this month.

via China must cut pollution by half before environment improves: official | Reuters.

10/02/2015

Pollution: The cost of clean air | The Economist

A DESOLATE scene surrounds Little Zhang’s Tyre Repair in the dusty rock-mining township of Shijing, in the northern province of Hebei. Zhang Minsheng, the owner, still gets some business from passing traffic. But the recent closure of nearby rock quarries, because of air-pollution restrictions, has taken its toll. He reckons his monthly income has fallen by 30-40% to around 4,000 yuan ($640). Next door a wholesale coal business has closed. So too have a small family-owned barbecue restaurant and an alcohol, tobacco and grocery store. Red characters posted by their entrances still forlornly proclaim their “grand opening”.

Last year on a typically smoggy day in Beijing, Li Keqiang, the prime minister, declared “war” on air pollution—a problem that has become a national fixation. Smog remains a grave danger in most Chinese cities, but environmental measures are beginning to show teeth. Regulators in the most polluted provinces are ordering mass closures of offending enterprises. In some areas officials are being punished for failing to control pollution. Policymakers are placing less emphasis on GDP growth—long an obsession of officials at all levels of government—and talking up greenness.

The transformation will be painful. China’s new toughness on polluting quarries, mills and factories coincides with an economic slowdown that will make it harder to create new jobs for those laid off. Slower growth is in line with the government’s efforts to curb wasteful investment, and with it a dangerous build-up of debt. The slowdown also happens to be helpful in curtailing pollution: China’s consumption of coal, a huge contributor to smog as well as to climate-change emissions, fell slightly in 2014 after 14 years of growth.

Mr Li’s war is especially bloody in Hebei, which is blamed for much of the smog in Beijing. Keeping the air of the capital clean is a political priority. Chinese leaders have been embarrassed by the damage caused to China’s international image by the city’s relentlessly grey skies. They worry that the smog could fuel dissatisfaction with the government and undermine stability in the capital, as well as affect their own and their families’ health. Dutifully, Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, has been trying to clean up. Since the beginning of 2013 it has reported closing down 18,000 polluting factories. In January Hebei Daily, a state-run newspaper, said that in Mancheng county, to which Shijing township belongs, 37 rock quarries and rubble pits had been shut.

via Pollution: The cost of clean air | The Economist.

03/02/2015

China says 90 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in 2014 | Reuters

Nearly 90 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards in 2014, but that was still an improvement on 2013 as the country’s “war on pollution” began to take effect, the environment ministry said on Monday.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said on its website (www.mep.gov.cn) that only eight of the 74 cities it monitors managed to meet national standards in 2014 on a series of pollution measures such as PM2.5, which is a reading of particles found in the air, carbon monoxide and ozone.

Amid growing public disquiet about smog and other environmental risks, China said last year it would “declare war on pollution” and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial capacity and reduce coal consumption.

In 2013, only three cities – Haikou on the island province of Hainan, the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and the coastal resort city of Zhoushan – met the standards.

They were joined in 2014 by Shenzhen, Huizhou and Zhuhai in southeast Guangdong province, Fuzhou in neighboring Fujian and Kunming in the southwest.

Of the 10 worst-performing cities in 2014, seven were located in the heavy industrial province of Hebei, which surrounds the capital, Beijing, the ministry said. The cities of Baoding, Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Handan and Hengshui, all in Hebei, filled the top six places.

via China says 90 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in 2014 | Reuters.

18/12/2014

China Plans to Dethrone King Coal – Businessweek

China is, by far, the largest consumer of coal worldwide. In 2011, China accounted for nearly half the coal burned globally, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China is also the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That’s the bad news.

China's Coal Demand May Peak Before 2020

The good news is that China’s coal usage is “very likely to peak before 2020,” according to a report (PDF) published by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). The author, Li Zhidong, a professor at Nagaoka University of Technology in Japan, examined data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics to find that the country’s appetite for coal is rising at a dramatically slower rate today than a few years ago. In 2011, China’s coal usage jumped 9 percent; last year, it rose only 2 percent.

Several factors are behind the trend. The first is simply that China’s manufacturing sector has slumped, meaning that factories required less additional electricity.

A more lasting factor, however, is that China’s push to expand renewable energy usage has made coal account for a declining share of power generation. In 2010, coal-fired power plants supplied 75.6 percent of China’s electricity; that dipped to 73.3 percent by 2013. Whether or not the economy picks up, the share of coal power is likely to continue to decline. In just the past three years, China has busily installed new dams, windmills, solar panels, and nuclear plants, adding 64 gigawatts of hydropower, 46 Gw of wind power, 15 Gw of solar power, and 4 Gw of nuclear power, according to NBR.

via China Plans to Dethrone King Coal – Businessweek.

08/12/2014

Rs 5,160cr given to states to clean rivers – The Times of India

Centre has released Rs 5,160 crore to various states for implementation of pollution abatement works in rivers, Parliament was informed on Monday.

Minister of water resources, river development and ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti said in Rajya Sabha that Rs 5,159.81 crore has been released by the Centre to states for implementation of pollution abatement works and a sewage treatment capacity of about 5,005 million litres per day has been created so far under NRCP and NGRBA programmes.

National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) programme cover polluted stretches of 42 rivers spread over 21 states at a sanctioned cost of Rs 11,362.85 crore.

To another question, the minister said conservation of rivers is an ongoing process and cleaning of Ganga and other rivers is taking time mainly due to the “large gap between sewage generation and availability of sewage treatment capacity…”

She said it is the responsibility of the state governments and local bodies concerned to set up proper facility for collection and treatment of sewage generated and ensuring that it is not discharged into the rivers.

The new NDA-government has set up an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission — ‘Namami Gange’ for for rejuvenation of Ganga and its tributaries.

via Rs 5,160cr given to states to clean rivers – The Times of India.

08/12/2014

Chinese tests find quarter of drinking water ‘substandard': Shanghai Daily | Reuters

Almost a quarter of purified drinking water tested by China’s top safety watchdog was substandard, with many products found to contain excessive levels of bacteria, the official Shanghai Daily newspaper said on Monday.

The findings underline the challenge to controlling supply chains in China, after a slew of food safety scares over the past year from donkey meat products contaminated with fox to heavy metals found in infant food.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) found excessive bacteria in purified water products from China’s biggest drinks maker, Wahaha Group, as well as C’estbon Beverage Co Ltd and Danone SA’s Robust brand, the newspaper said.

In a statement posted on the official Xinhua news agency, Wahaha said it had recalled the affected products and cut its supply relationship with the water station where it said the contamination had occurred.

via Chinese tests find quarter of drinking water ‘substandard': Shanghai Daily | Reuters.

07/12/2014

India Says Pollution Levels Need to Rise Further to Boost Growth – Businessweek

India said its pollution levels will need to increase in the years ahead to support its economic development and it won’t discuss limiting greenhouse-gas emissions at United Nations climate talks that began this week.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said the government is preparing to make a pledge on how India will develop cleaner forms of energy, though he stopped short of indicating when the country might take on the sorts of caps for emissions that the U.S., China and Europe are adopting.

“We have a need to grow, so our emissions will grow,” Javadekar said at a press conference in New Delhi today. He said the onus on reducing emissions should be on richer industrial nations most responsible for global warming to allow poorer countries “space for more development.”

The comments indicate the difficulty in bringing all of the 190 nations gathered at the UN climate talks in Peru this week into a deal that will cut back on the pollution blamed for driving up the Earth’s temperature. While India’s emissions are the third-highest in the world, 30 percent of its residents live in poverty, scraping by on 75 cents a day or less.

Javadekar spoke before departing for the UN talks in Lima, Peru, which run through next week. They’re aiming to put together the building blocks for a deal by the end of next year that would cut pollution in all nations from 2020.

India is under pressure to make its environmental goals more clear after China and the U.S. jointly agreed Nov. 12 to rein in fossil fuel emissions. It was the first time a big developing country said it would take on a mandatory limit on pollution.

via India Says Pollution Levels Need to Rise Further to Boost Growth – Businessweek.

07/12/2014

China looking to curb fertilizer, pesticide use | Reuters

China, the world’s top producer of rice and wheat, is seeking to cap the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that have helped to contaminate large swathes of its arable land and threaten its ability to keep up with domestic food demand.

More than 19 percent of soil samples taken from Chinese farmland have been found to contain excessive levels of heavy metals or chemical waste. In central Hunan province, more than three quarters of the ricefields have been contaminated, government research has shown.

China is the world’s top consumer of pesticides but almost two thirds of pesticides are wasted, contaminating both land and water, an environment official said last year.

“We need to be determined to control the use of fertilizer and pesticides,” said chief economist at the agriculture ministry Bi Meijia.

Zhejiang province in eastern China plans to cut the use of nitrogen fertilizer by 8 percent in the next three years, Bi said, and the whole country could cap the growth in use of fertilizer and pesticides by 2020.

Still, China is aiming to remain self-sufficient in its staple crops, even as it moves to control pesticide and fertilizer use, Bi and another agricultural official said.

China recorded a bumper grains harvest in 2014, with output up about 1 percent to 607.1 million tonnes, official data showed, the 11th consecutive year of rising production.

via China looking to curb fertilizer, pesticide use | Reuters.

04/12/2014

End of the road for Delhi’s old cars as India battles smog | Reuters

The National Green Tribunal has banned all vehicles older than 15 years from the streets of the capital, New Delhi, in a bid to clean up air that one prominent study this year found to be the world’s dirtiest.

Heavy traffic moves along a busy road during a power-cut at the traffic light junctions in New Delhi July 31, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

The ruling hits up to a third of the 8.4 million motorbikes, trucks, cars and auto-rickshaws that ply the traffic-choked roads of Delhi and its surrounding areas, transport officials estimate.

Cities across the world are ordering older vehicles off the road or restricting private car use to tackle growing air pollution. Mexico City introduced a ban on older vehicles driving on Saturdays this year, while in March, France briefly enforced the most drastic traffic curbs in 20 years.

“It is undisputed and in fact unquestionable that the air pollution of … Delhi is getting worse with each passing day,” the National Green Tribunal ruled in a judgment last week banning older vehicles from city streets.

Vehicular emissions are the cause of close to three-quarters of Delhi’s air pollution, the Delhi government estimates, and a World Health Organization study of 1,600 cities released in May found India’s capital had the world’s dirtiest air. India rejected the report.

The ban in Delhi lacks incentives to encourage drivers to trade in their older vehicles but eventually could boost sales for carmakers like Maruti Suzuki India and Tata Motors, as the capital accounts for 17 percent of India’s new car sales, said IHS automotive analyst Puneet Gupta.

via End of the road for Delhi’s old cars as India battles smog | Reuters.

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