Archive for ‘greenhouse gas’

10/12/2015

China to introduce tough emissions controls for ships | Reuters

China will introduce tough controls on ship emissions at three key port areas from January to reduce sulfur dioxide which results in acid rain, causing respiratory difficulties and sometimes premature death, said the Ministry of Transport.

Shipping containers are seen on a ship docked at a port in Rizhao, Shandong province, China, December 6, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

If strictly implemented the move would force oil suppliers to increase the supply of cleaner marine fuel, industry experts said. The ministry gave no details on how the new emissions rules would be enforced or penalties for non-compliance.

The new rules will apply to merchant ships navigating or anchoring in the waters of Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Bay rim, with a goal to cut sulfur dioxide by 65 percent by 2020 from the 2015 level, according to a document issued by the Ministry of Transport.

Similar emissions control areas exist in the North Sea and the north American coast.

Ships berthed at ports within the three Chinese emissions control zones will start using bunker fuel with a maximum sulfur dioxide (SO2) content of 0.5 percent from January 2016, the ministry said.

Hong Kong made it mandatory in July for merchant ships to switch to fuel with a SO2 content of 0.5 percent from high sulfur fuel. Neighboring Shenzhen port launched a voluntary fuel switching scheme in July this year that is expected to cost 200 million yuan ($31.07 million) in subsidies over three years.

Enforcement of the new emission measures will initially be up to individual ports, but the controls will be toughened in 2017 to cover all key ports in the three control areas.

They will be tightened further from the start of 2019, when ships entering control zones, not just berthed or anchored, will have to use 0.5 percent SO2 bunker fuel or below. Fishing, sports and military vessels will be exempt, said the ministry.

Oil consultancy ICIS estimated that majority of fuel use in China’s shipping sector is currently using fuel with 1-2 percent SO2 content.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a U.N. body which regulates merchant shipping, plans to introduce a global cap on ship emissions in either 2020 or 2025.

The IMO will carry out a review in 2018 that will include an assessment of the availability of low-sulfur fuel that will be used to decide the actual implementation date.

Source: China to introduce tough emissions controls for ships | Reuters

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10/12/2015

Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The cities of Delhi and Beijing share a dubious honor as the world’s most-polluted capitals. But their response to dangerous levels of air pollution separates them.

Earlier this week, Beijing for the first time issued a red-alert for pollution, triggered when authorities forecast air-quality levels above 300 for at least three consecutive days.

On China’s government index, a measure of overall air quality, the maximum reading of 500, is described by the government as “severely polluted.” The Chinese administration immediately sent cars off the roads, shut factories and urged schools to close.

In Delhi, where air was similarly dirty, life went on as normal. The starkly different responses prompted some in the Indian capital to question why their government wasn’t taking Beijing-style measures to combat the smog. For sure, plans are underway in India to tackle the capital’s filthy air.

On Friday, Delhi’s government announced it would impose restrictions on the number of cars on its roads from Jan.1. Residents in the Indian city can look up air-pollution data on the website of The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, known as Safar, which uses data collected at 10 locations in the city. On that index, air quality in the city regularly hits “very poor” conditions when levels of PM 2.5 — insidious particles in the air including dirt, soot, smoke and liquid droplets — spike.

These tiny particles are thought to be particularly dangerous because they can lodge deeply in the lungs and cause inflammation, infection and lead to diseases including cancer. Readings on the Safar monitor are calibrated from “good” to “severe.” The Delhi Pollution Control Committee also publishes raw pollution data but doesn’t give qualitative readings alongside.

The U.S. Embassy, which measures pollution on monitors at its compound in the capital and around the country, warns the very young and elderly to remain indoors whenever air quality becomes what it calls hazardous. But none of the readings currently trigger alerts, or responsive action, by Delhi’s government. That’s because India is a democracy, said Ashwani Kumar, chairman of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, an arm of the state government.

China, of course, is a one-party state. The idea that alerts should tell people to stay indoors when smog hits was  “absurd,” Mr. Kumar added, and people “should decide for themselves what to do with the pollution information.” However, he said the Delhi Pollution Control Committee does plan to introduce an app so that information is available to residents with smartphones. Less than 10% of Indians own a smartphone. It also proposes to install around 70 big screens in strategic locations around the city advising residents what they can do to reduce pollution, Mr. Kumar added. The idea of an environmental alert system is not alien to India.

Source: Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

10/12/2015

Raise the green lanterns | The Economist

WHEN world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss cutting planet-heating emissions, a pall of smog hung over Beijing. In parts of the capital levels of fine particulate matter reached 30 times the limit deemed safe.

Though air pollution and climate change are different things, Chinese citydwellers think of them in the same, poisoned breath. The murky skies seemed irreconcilable with the bright intentions promised in France.

Yet a marked change has taken place in China’s official thinking. Where once China viewed international climate talks as a conspiracy to constrain its economy, it now sees a global agreement as helpful to its own development.

China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s increase in the carbon dioxide emitted since 2000. It has come a long way in recognising the problem. When China first joined international climate talks, the environment was just a minor branch of foreign policy. The ministry for environmental protection had no policymaking powers until 2008. Only in 2012 did public pressure force cities to publish air-pollution data.

Yet today China pledges to cap carbon emissions by 2030 (reversing its former position that, as a developing power, it should not be bound to an absolute reduction); and it says it will cut its carbon intensity (that is, emissions per unit of GDP) by a fifth, as well as increase by the same amount the electricity generated from sources other than fossil fuels. The latest five-year plan, a blueprint for the Communist Party’s intentions that was unveiled last month, contains clear policy prescriptions for making economic development more environmentally friendly.

There’s more

Right after the Paris summit, however it ends, China is expected to make more promises in a new document, co-written by international experts, that presents a far-reaching programme of how China should clean up its act. It is based on models that account for both economic and political viability. On top of existing plans, such as launching a national emissions-trading scheme in 2017, the government may even outline proposals for a carbon tax, something that has eluded many prosperous countries in the West.

The big question is why China is now so serious about climate change. The answer is not that Communist leaders are newly converted econuts. Rather, they want to use environmental concerns to rally domestic support for difficult reforms that would sustain growth in the coming decades. Since a global slowdown in 2008 it has become clear that to continue growing, China must move its economy away from construction and energy-intensive industry towards services. At the same time, China faces an energy crunch. For instance, in recent years China has been a net importer of coal, which generates two-thirds of China’s electricity. It all argues for growth plans that involve less carbon.

This is where signing international accords, such as the one hoped for in Paris, come in, for they will help the government fight entrenched interests at home. Observers see a parallel with China’s joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001. It allowed leaders to push through internal economic reform against fierce domestic opposition. In the same way, a global climate treaty should help it take tough measures for restructuring the economy.

It will not be easy. Provincial party bosses and state-owned enterprises hate to shut factories, particularly in those parts of the country, such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia in the north, where coal is a big employer. Cutting demand for energy is even harder. Even if the amount of electricity used by state industry falls, that used by private firms and households is bound to increase. What is more, environmental regulations and laws laid down by the centre are routinely flouted.

But cleaning up China’s act has, for the central government, become a political necessity too. Environmental issues have been major public concerns for over a decade, says Anthony Saich of Harvard University, which has conducted polls. True, rural people fret most (and with good reason) about water pollution. But those in the cities gripe about their toxic air. Both represent a reproach to the government over its neglect of people’s lives and health.

That is why national economic goals, political goals, public opinion and international pressure all point towards trying to cut emissions, pollutants included. In particular, says Zhang Zhongxiang of Tianjin University, now that dealing with climate change is a pillar of China’s diplomacy, the government must show it can keep its promises. It has some tools at its disposal. Across the country, the environmental record of government officials has become a crucial part of their evaluation by the Communist Party; and cadres will be held account

Source: Raise the green lanterns | The Economist

22/07/2015

Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ

If you’re living in China and have the vague impression that the skies have been bluer than usual this year, it’s not just wishful thinking.

According to an analysis released Wednesday by Greenpeace East Asia, China’s air is not as awful as it used to be. Among 189 cities examined by the environmental nonprofit, PM2.5 levels in the first half of 2015 were down an average of 16% compared to the same period last year. Only 18 cities saw their levels of PM2.5 increase.

Health experts say that small particles such as PM2.5 are particularly worrisome for human health, given their ability to creep deep into the lungs and aggravate heart or lung disease.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen a massive reduction on PM2.5 concentrations at a national level,” said Dong Liansai, Greenpeace East Asia energy and climate campaigner. In recent years, the frequent grey pall and onset of periodic “airpocalyses” have helped discourage tourism to Beijing and have spurred expats and locals alike to leave for more oxygen-rich environments.

In the country’s notoriously smoggy capital, residents have seen PM2.5 levels drop by 15.5%, with levels of sulfur dioxide – which can contribute to respiratory problems — experiencing a still more precipitous drop of 42.6%, the group said. The capital has been making a concerted push to clean up its skies, closing or relocating 185 firms in the first half of this year, according to the Beijing government. Since last July, the city has also shuttered three of its four coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Dong said the bump in clean air doesn’t appear to be just a blip. He credited more aggressive government standards on emissions and efforts to shutter its dirtiest factories. He also cited the government’s 2013 air pollution control plan, which mandates that by 2017, certain regions must reduce their PM2.5 levels by as much as 25% compared to 2012 levels.

Compared with the rest of the world, the Middle Kingdom’s air still ranks as wretched: the average PM2.5 level in the 385 cities ranked by the group was 53.8 µg/m3, more than five times the World Health Organization’s recommended annual mean.

To keep skies blue-hued for events such as last November’s APEC summit, the city periodically shuts down nearby factories and orders cars off the streets. Such a strategy has in the past paid health dividends for residents. A recent study found that women pregnant during the 2008 Beijing Olympics—when the Chinese government worked aggressively to keep air pollution down for a seven-week period—gave birth to heavier, and presumably healthier, babies.

via Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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.

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.

13/08/2014

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.

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.

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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