Archive for ‘Pollution’

16/09/2014

Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri

India’s holiest river is due for a clean-up, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking personal responsibility for restoring the Ganga and ridding the 2,500 km long river of industrial effluents and untreated sewage.

Uma Bharti, Modi’s minister for water resources and Ganges rejuvenation, has said the river would be clean in three years. Earlier this month, India’s Supreme Court asked the government for a roadmap on the project so that the court could monitor it.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spoke to Reuters on the Ganga project, the need for transparency and how the public could help.

via India Insight.

12/09/2014

When China Cleans Its Air, Health-Care Costs Plummet – Businessweek

Beijing residents checking the hourly air-quality index online and strapping air-pollution facemasks on their children may miss the halcyon days just before the 2008 Olympics, when the city temporarily cleaned up its skies (at least, relatively speaking). But not every city in China has seen the air grow darker over the past half decade.

Unidentified emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, in 2007

The northern city of Taiyuan, capital of coal-rich Shanxi province, has launched several measures to reduce coal burning and emissions. Although its skies are hardly clear, they are clearer. And that has made a noticeable difference in health outcomes and health-care costs, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health.

Over the past decade, Taiyuan has closed several large coal-burning power plants and increased environmental monitoring of its other factories—effectively lowering the average concentration of PM 10 (particulate matter 10 micrometers in diameter or less). As a result, average PM 10 concentrations dropped more than 50 percent from 2001 to 2010.

The economic costs associated with pollution—including health-care expenses, loss of labor productivity, and premature death—correspondingly dropped more than 50 percent, according to estimates by the researchers. Specifically, the researchers correlated reduced air pollution over the course of a decade with 141,457 fewer hospital or doctor visits, 31,810 fewer hospital stays, 969 fewer trips to the emergency room, 951 fewer cases of bronchitis, and 2,810 fewer premature deaths.

via When China Cleans Its Air, Health-Care Costs Plummet – Businessweek.

13/08/2014

Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing cut coal consumption by 7 percent in the first half of 2014 as part of its efforts to tackle smog, the city’s environmental protection bureau said.

Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year

Beijing is at the front line of a “war on pollution” declared by the central government earlier this year in a bid to head off public unrest about the growing environmental costs of economic development.

The city has already started to close or relocate hundreds of factories and industrial plants.

The coal-fired power generators at Beijing’s Gaojing Thermal Power Plant are decommissioned on July 23. Provided to China Daily

It will also raise vehicle fuel standards and is mulling the introduction of a congestion charge.

To reduce coal consumption, it is in the process of shutting down all of its aging coal-fired power plants and replacing them with cleaner natural gas-fired capacity or with power delivered via the grid.

Based on last year’s coal consumption level of 19 million metric tons, the 7 percent cut would amount to around 1.33 million tons per year.

Beijing has said previously that it plans to reduce total coal use by 2.6 million tons in 2014, and aims to slash consumption to less than 10 million tons per year by 2017.

The Beijing environmental bureau said the city had cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 5.4 percent over the first six months of the year.

It also took 176,000 substandard vehicles off the road.

Previous data issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed that concentrations of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 stood at 91.6 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing in the first half of the year, down 11.2 percent year-on-year but still more than twice the recommended national limit of 35 mcg.

Much of the pollution that hits Beijing drifts in from the surrounding province of Hebei, a major industrial region that is home to seven of China’s 10 most polluted cities.

Under new plans to integrate Beijing with Hebei and the port city of Tianjin, the region will be treated as a “single entity” with unified industrial and emission standards.

Hebei said last week that it had cut coal consumption by 7.53 million tons in the first half of 2014, amounting to just over half of its target of 15 million tons for the year.

The province agreed last year to cut coal use by 40 million tons by 2017, and it is also planning to shed at least 60 million tons of excess steel capacity over the same period.

via Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

11/07/2014

India to Spend $2.2 Billion on Water Supplies, Ganges – Businessweek

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government today pledged 131 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) in spending on water projects to improve supplies and the condition of the Ganges, India’s largest river.

Ganges .. India

Ganges .. India (Photo credit: Nick Kenrick .)

Asia’s third-biggest economy will develop watersheds, build more pumping stations and start to clean the Ganga, blighted by raw sewage along much of its 2,525-kilometer (1,570-mile) route, as India endures a year of “unpredictable” monsoons, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

The government will use 36 billion rupees to improve drinking supplies for about 20,000 villages and small towns affected by arsenic and fluoride contamination, Jaitley told Parliament in the minister’s annual budget speech. About 21.42 billion rupees will be spent on watershed development and 20.37 billion rupees on Ganga upgrades. About 42 billion rupees will go to developing inland waterways in the plan.

via India to Spend $2.2 Billion on Water Supplies, Ganges – Businessweek.

30/06/2014

Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Zhejiang Province is administering a swim test for its cadres, but not for the purpose you might think.

The coastal province is trying to get officials to jump into local rivers as part of an effort to battle China’s notorious water pollution.

“The public doesn’t get to know what water standards are from data, but from using it. Swimming can be used to judge this, (and) leading officials should do the test,” Zhejiang People’s Congress deputy director Mao Linsheng said at a recent meeting (in Chinese).

It’s not clear exactly what the province hopes to accomplish with the new initiative. There’s a rich political symbolism associated with leaders swimming in rivers in China thanks to Mao Zedong, who took a famous dip in the Yangtze River in 1966, accompanied by a team of bodyguards and 5,000 admirers, to prove he was still robust on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. But the destruction wrought in the decade following the Great Helmsman’s swim makes it a dubious template for today’s officials.

There’s also the question of whether Mao would be willing to swim in any of China’s rivers were he still alive today. Nearly 60% of China’s water is either moderately or seriously polluted, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources’s annual report released this April.

Pollution in Zhejiang appears particularly problematic. Last year, CCTV reported that more than 80% of the waters just off the coast of Zhejiang Province were polluted, threatening the local fishing industry. In March, a river in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang caught on fire as a lit cigarette set alight chemical residues floating on its surface.

via Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

27/06/2014

E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Nine industrial plants in east China’s Zhejiang Province have been fined and suspended after their emissions were blamed for a spate of nosebleeds in a nearby middle school, authorities said on Thursday.

From March to May, 18 students suffered nosebleeds in Huangjiabu Township Middle School in the city of Yuyao, school medical room records show.

He Dongfeng, father of a student at the school, said his son suffered a bleeding nose about three weeks ago, together with three or four of his classmates.

He reported a sour and metallic smell in the air near the school.

Huangjiabu Township High School is near Huangjiabu Township’s industrial zone, a 133-hectare area that is home to 31 plants, including nine metal finishing and six dyeing plants.

Zheng Qilong, deputy head of the township, said authorities could not deny, but also did not have any evidence of, a connection between industrial pollution and the students’ nosebleeds.

According to doctors, toxic air can cause bleeding from the nose if the density of particulate matter is high enough. Another possible reason is that long-term exposure to toxic air may damage the coagulation function of blood platelets, leading to nosebleeds.

Yang Sheng, an official with Huangjiabu’s environmental protection bureau, said based on complaints from teachers and students of the high school, environmental authorities have carried out plant inspections and fined and suspended nine of them.

via E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

17/06/2014

China battles to be first ecological civilisation – environment – 13 June 2014 – New Scientist

SO YOU want to live in a country that is guided by a philosophy of “ecological civilisation”, run by people with the vision to implement policies that will benefit their children even if it costs more in the short term? Move to China.

Easing off coal

Not convinced? Last week, news circulated that China is considering limiting its greenhouse gas emissions so that they peak in 2030, followed by an orchestrated fall.

It was one man’s view, expressed at a Beijing conference, not an official announcement. But He Jiankun is chairman of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, and his words are in line with actions China is now taking to address global warming.

“China is already doing a lot,” says Fergus Green of the London School of Economics. “They are probably making the most progress of any country, given that they are starting from a position that is far more challenging.”

“Things are changing very, very fast,” says Changhua Wu of The Climate Group think tank in Beijing.

To be clear, China is still the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. Cities like Beijing are plagued by smog, and efforts to clean them up may just move the pollution elsewhere. But there is a huge push for change.

Water scarcity and awareness that China will suffer from global warming are factors, but it is health concerns that loom large. The air in many cities is dangerous to breathe, the water is toxic and there are often food health scares. “People are fed up,” says Wu.

Premier Li Keqiang has declared a “war on pollution”. His leadership has drawn up a philosophical framework called ecological civilisation. It aims to “bring everything back to the relationship between man and nature”, says Wu, and is driving major changes.

Prompted by the idea that used resources must be paid for, China has launched carbon trading schemes in six areas. There, companies must pay to pollute, and abide by a cap on overall emissions. A seventh scheme should start within weeks. They will form the world’s second largest carbon trading scheme, after Europe’s. A national programme should begin this decade.

China has set targets to make more wealth using less energy and it is on course to meet them. It contributes one-fifth of global investment in renewables, more than any other nation, has more installed wind power than anywhere else and in 2013 doubled its solar capacity.

The smog is turning people off dirty power. Construction of coal-fired power stations peaked in 2007 (see graph), and smaller power stations are being switched off. According to the London-based think tank Carbon Tracker, 10 out of 30 provinces have cut their coal use, and wind capacity is growing twice as fast as coal. “The coal-fired power plants that China is building are some of the most high-tech and efficient available,” says Carbon Tracker’s Luke Sussams. There are also schemes in place to make people who pollute water pay those who suffer as a result.

Environmentalists have pushed policies like these for years. But while Western nations debate them, China is testing them and rolling out those that work.

via China battles to be first ecological civilisation – environment – 13 June 2014 – New Scientist.

11/06/2014

Air, Water, Soil: China’s Environment Gets Worse – Businessweek

Each year, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) releases a “state of the environment” report (PDF); it’s a rather grim annual ritual. For all the talk about China’s new “war on pollution” and money pouring into wind farms and river cleanup campaigns, the reality is that, according to most metrics, China’s environmental situation is getting worse, not better.

Pollution levels in several of China's major rivers has grown more severe since 2010

Air pollution in China receives the most attention globally. Despite a recent stretch of fairly nice days in Beijing, according to the MEP’s report, in 2013 only three major Chinese cities met the government’s own standards for urban air quality.

Water pollution—and water shortages—may be an even graver problem. The pollution level in several major rivers, including the Yangtze and its tributaries, has grown more severe since 2010. Meanwhile 11 percent of the land in the Yangtze’s watershed and adjacent areas was watered by acid rain. Sixty percent of groundwater-testing sites nations wide ranked as “poor” or “very poor” in water quality.

via Air, Water, Soil: China’s Environment Gets Worse – Businessweek.

16/05/2014

China to build new hi-tech power network to help fight pollution | South China Morning Post

China will build the world’s largest high-power electricity transmission network as part of the country’s efforts to battle smog and pollution.

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The State Grid Corporation of China – the world’s largest state-owned utilities company – said on its website that the central government would soon approve plans for the construction of 12 power lines connecting the energy-rich interior with heavily industrialised coastal areas. The initial investment is estimated to be at least 210 billion yuan (HK$264 billion).

The 12 projects include eight ultra-high-voltage (UHV) lines, which offer distinct advantages over conventional power lines by transmitting electricity over significantly longer distances with far greater efficiency. Energy losses from UHV power lines are five to six times lower than the conventional ones, studies show.

Despite some concerns about the project – especially the vulnerability of such a broad network to system-wide failures – the emerging technology is being hailed as an ultimately far cleaner, more efficient way to deliver electricity across the country.

State Grid claims UHV power lines can reduce the density of PM2.5 smog particles, which are considered most dangerous to human health, by 4-5 per cent in central and eastern regions and cut coal consumption by 200 million tonnes a year.

via China to build new hi-tech power network to help fight pollution | South China Morning Post.

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08/05/2014

A Silver Lining in Beijing Smog: Soaring Pollution Penalty Revenues – Businessweek

Looking for a silver lining in Beijing’s gray smog? The city’s environmental protection bureau says fees collected from polluters are soaring, already totaling 88 million yuan ($14 million) this year. That’s way up from 8.34 million yuan in penalties levied over the same period last year, according to the China Daily.

Tiananmen Square during severe pollution on Feb. 25 in Beijing

The surge in penalties isn’t because the smog’s been worse. In January, the fines went up more than 10-fold for major pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ammonia nitrogen.

The higher fees are already helping encourage companies to retire some of their worst habits. “Many companies used to ignore the old discharge fee because it was simply too insignificant,” said Zhong Chonglei, head of the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Team, at a press conference on May 6. “The increased fee has made many companies realize the importance of emission reduction.”

via A Silver Lining in Beijing Smog: Soaring Pollution Penalty Revenues – Businessweek.

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