Archive for ‘Pollution’

27/11/2014

China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters

China will take a “zero tolerance” approach to a wide range of environmental violations and has promised stronger action against regional governments that protect polluters or hinder inspections, according to a Cabinet document.

A man wearing a face mask stands on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong on a hazy day, in Shanghai November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Authorities across China have been ordered to take part in a comprehensive inspection program to be completed by the end of 2015, said the policy document that was released on the official government website late on Wednesday.

The program’s findings will be released publicly under a policy of enhanced transparency and accountability, it said, and any regional regulations that hinder enforcement of national environmental legislation must be annulled by June 2015.

The state of China’s air, soil and rivers has emerged as one of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest challenges, with an increasingly prosperous public unwilling to accept the environmental costs of rapid economic growth.

China declared a “war on pollution” this year and passed long-awaited amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving authorities added powers to monitor, fine and even imprison repeat offenders.

On Wednesday, the cabinet also approved draft amendments to China’s air pollution law that include unlimited daily fines if violators do not rectify problems, the China Daily newspaper reported. Polluters currently pay a one-off fine of up to 200,000 yuan ($32,595).

Enforcement remains one of the government’s main concerns, with the Ministry of Environmental Protection complaining last month that some regions preferred “form over substance” when it came to implementing new guidelines.

The ministry also criticized regional governments that failed to comply fully with industrial restrictions during this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.

(1 US dollar = 6.1360 Chinese yuan)

via China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters.

21/11/2014

China Plans to Move Factories Abroad to Cut Smog – Businessweek

Even as northern China, including Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province, continues to suffer from hazardous air—“people with respiratory issues are advised to stay indoors or wear protective masks,” the official English language China Daily advised earlier today, Nov.20—some relief may be on the longer-term horizon.

The Baosteel Group Corp. facilities in Shanghai, China

Chinese authorities in Hebei province, one of China’s largest steel-producing regions, announced they plan to relocate steel, cement, and glass factories overseas over the next decade. The many industrial factories that surround Beijing and Tianjin are known to be a major source of the lung-choking smog that periodically smothers much of northern China. Hebei province alone produces 200 million tons of steel annually, or about one-quarter of China’s total production.

“The initiative comes at a time when local steel, cement, and glass producers are struggling, with sluggish growth in the world’s second-largest economy crippling demand for their products. In many cases, it has led to severe overcapacity,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported Nov. 19.

By 2017, according to Hebei authorities, Hebei plans to move 5 million tons of steel production capacity, the same amount for cement, and 3 million “weight boxes” of glass production (a weight box is roughly 50 kg, the paper explained). Much more will be moved in the following six years, through 2023, including 20 million tons of steel, 30 million of cement, and 10 million weight boxes of glass production, Xinhua reported.

While steel manufacturers will be encouraged through unspecified preferential policies to relocate some production in Africa and Asia, cement and glass producers will go to those two regions, as well as South America and Central and East Europe.

“Hebei is a major source of industrial pollutants blamed for the notorious choking smog that often spreads to neighboring regions like Beijing,” Xinhua reported.

via China Plans to Move Factories Abroad to Cut Smog – Businessweek.

13/11/2014

China, U.S. agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new | Reuters

China and the United States agreed on Wednesday to new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025, but the pledge by the world’s two biggest polluters appears to be more politically significant than substantive.

U.S. (L) and Chinese national flags flutter on a light post at the Tiananmen Square ahead of a welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Barack Obama, in Beijing, November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

As China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to a date for peak CO2 emissions for the first time and also promised to raise the share of zero-carbon energy to 20 percent of the country’s total, President Barack Obama said the United States would cut its own emissions by more than a quarter by 2025.

via China, U.S. agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new | Reuters.

11/11/2014

For APEC, Beijing Briefly Cleans Up Its Skies, but Can’t Help the Sewage – Businessweek

Beijing has, once again, cleaned up the air to impress the foreign dignitaries visiting for this week’s APEC summit. The phenomenon is so predictable that there’s even a new phrase on Chinese social media, “APEC blue,” used to refer to something that is beautiful or enticing, but also fleeting. As in, “He’s not that into you, it’s just APEC blue.”

A riverbank in Beijing

Yet while China’s government can order factories in and near Beijing to shut down for about a week to clear the skies, it can’t as quickly clean up the capital’s dirty urban waterways. A new investigation by the newspaper Economic Information highlights one nasty but lingering problem in Beijing and other large Chinese cities: lack of adequate sewage treatment facilities.

Xiong Jianxin, an official in Beijing’s municipal water bureau, told the newspaper that some sewage plants on the outskirts of the capital are easily overwhelmed. While plants are built to handle up to 550,000 tons of water daily, at peak times they send as many as 100,000 tons of unprocessed sewage daily back into rivers or channels. Officials in several other large cities shared similar horror stories.

via For APEC, Beijing Briefly Cleans Up Its Skies, but Can’t Help the Sewage – Businessweek.

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04/11/2014

More than 40 percent of China’s arable land degraded: Xinhua | Reuters

More than 40 percent of China’s arable land is suffering from degradation, official news agency Xinhua said, reducing its capacity to produce food for the world’s biggest population.

The rich black soil in northern Heilongjiang province, which forms part of China’s bread basket, is thinning, while farmland in China’s south is suffering from acidification, the report said, citing agriculture ministry statistics.

Degraded land typically includes soil suffering from reduced fertility, erosion, changes in acidity and the effects of climate change as well as damage from pollutants.

Beijing is growing increasingly concerned about its food supply after years of rapid industrialization resulted in widespread pollution of waterways and farmland.

The country, which must feed nearly 1.4 billion people, has already outlined plans to tackle soil pollution, said to affect around 3.3 million hectares of land.

But as rising incomes place growing pressure on its domestic resources to produce more, high quality food, it is also planning to tackle degraded soil, the report said.

The agriculture ministry wants to create 53 million hectares of connected farmland by 2020 that would allow it to withstand drought and floods better, said Xinhua. Larger farms are more suited to irrigation and other modern farming practices.

It also wants to strengthen the monitoring of arable land management and speed up the legislative process to protect farmland in order to ensure stable food production and farmers’ incomes, the report added.

Currently protecting farmland is difficult as liability for soil contamination is hard to determine, experts say.

The government is drafting a new law to tackle this but it is not expected to be completed until at least 2017.

via More than 40 percent of China’s arable land degraded: Xinhua | Reuters.

29/10/2014

Pollution in Delhi Prompts U.S. Embassy Warning – India Real Time – WSJ

If you have children in New Delhi, you might not want to let them play outside today. The U.S. Embassy in the Indian capital said air quality – as measured at a monitoring station in the embassy compound – had reached “very unhealthy” levels on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., the embassy said its air-quality index was 255 – a measure based on the amount of fine particulate, or PM 2.5, in the air. Such small particulates can enter the lungs and blood stream. They have been linked to severe health problems such as lung cancer.

The U.S. Embassy’s website said that an air-quality index reading between 201 and 300 can cause “significant aggravation of heart or lung disease” and a “significant increase in respiratory effects in general population.”

“Older adults and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors,” it said. “Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.”

The message though hadn’t got through to the American Embassy School in Delhi on Wednesday morning. Kailash Sharma, a staff member at the school, which is located across the road from the embassy, said by telephone that “kids were playing outside.”

The U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, also monitors air pollution.

Delhi’s air quality often deteriorates in winter, particularly in the days after the festival of Diwali when residue from fireworks displays adds to pollution levels.

India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences on Wednesday said its air-quality index was 121, a level described as “poor.”

via Pollution in Delhi Prompts U.S. Embassy Warning – India Real Time – WSJ.

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.

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