Archive for ‘Pollution’


Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

At a time of Brexit and talk of a wall between the United States and Mexico, it seems the Chinese are embracing international engagement.

They think their country’s power is rising, that their living standards will keep improving, that corruption is being cleaned up and that air pollution should be fixed even if it means slowing down economic growth.

These are the views which have emerged from a broad survey from Washington-based the Pew Research Center.

Elsewhere there is fear and uncertainty. Here optimism trumps all.

When asked about economic globalisation, 60% of people said it is a good thing and only 23% think it is bad for China.

While some China watchers are warning that this country’s mounting local government debt could mean that a hard landing is on the way, Chinese people don’t appear to share this pessimism.

Nearly 90% of respondents amongst this group of 3,154, interviewed face-to-face in China earlier this year, think that the state of their country’s economy is either “very good” or “somewhat good”.

GETTY IMAGES – Chinese people seem to remain optimistic

Looking into the future things will apparently get even better: 76% of people think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 70% said their personal financial situation will improve and eight out of 10 people believe that their children will have a better standard of living than they do.

Bread and butter issues

It’s not that people are without concerns.

“Corrupt officials” is at the top of the table when it comes to people’s worries (83% said this was a “very big” or “moderately big” problem) and yet here too we see optimism.

Some 64% of them said that President Xi Jinping‘s massive anti-corruption drive would improve the situation over the next five years.

Running down the concern list, an alarmingly high number of people see income inequality and the safety of food and medicine as “very big” problems.

This should give the Chinese Communist Party pause for concern.

If you enjoy monopoly power on the basis that you are delivering “socialism with Chinese characteristics” then a small group of ultra-rich driving around in their sports cars and showing off their wealth while most struggle to pay the rent is surely at odds with your central message.

Then, if ordinary Chinese people can’t even trust the food and medicine they are giving their children, the possibility for social unrest over bread and butter issues is looming large.

The environment also emerges as a massive challenge with water and air pollution at the front of people’s minds.

Air pollution is so bad in China that half of those polled said their country should fight air pollution harder even if it means sacrificing economic growth.

GETTY IMAGES – Emissions from coal-powered industries, cars and heating systems generate the smog

Only 24% saw air deterioration as a necessary price to pay.

When it comes to the war of ideas in the top echelons of power here, those ministers in favour of tougher environmental protection measures could do worse than table this research.

A “major threat” to China?

The South China Sea and other geo-strategic tensions offer some of the most bleak opinions.

Nearly six out of 10 people think that territorial pressures with neighbours could lead to military conflict; 77% say their way of life needs to be protected from “foreign influence” (up by 13 percentage points since 2002) and only 22% say China should help other nations.

Regarding relations with rival superpower the United States people views are complex and, at times, seemingly contradictory.

Around half of Chinese respondents rated the US favourably but more than half think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power.

About 45% said that US power and influence poses a “major threat” to China. In fact the US came in at number one as the top international threat to the country.

GETTY IMAGES – More than half of Chinese people think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power

It’s interesting that some would see the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” as a greater threat than say jihadist extremist groups just across the western border promoting bloody conflict in China’s vast Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Either way, whatever the perceived threat, China is seen as becoming ever more important and with ever more power at its disposal.Information is being controlled here ever more tightly – whether it is coming from the traditional media or sources online – so some analysts will see these views as the inevitable result of messages being delivered to the Chinese people by their government.

This may the be case but, in a world where politicians in various countries are accused of exploiting people’s fear and insecurity, could it be that a quarter of the globe’s population are going around with a smile on their dial because every day they look out the window and to them it just gets better and better?

Source: Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News


India joins Paris Climate Change Agreement, submits instrument of ratification at UN headquarters – Times of India

With the US, China and now India signing the accord, other nations should not hesitate to join them. On any case, thes three account for the vast majority of the pollution, so even if no one else signs up, its good news for Mother Gaia.

India formally joined the Paris Climate Change Agreement by submitting its instrument of ratification+ at UN headquarters in New York on Sunday – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The instrument of ratification was deposited by India’s permanent representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin.

By putting Gandhi seal on the climate deal, the country will now urge the global community to adopt ‘Gandhian way of life’ (shun extravagant lifestyles) to reduce their carbon footprints and protect the earth from adverse impact of climate change.

India will articulate its point vigorously during the next climate conference (COP22) at Marrakech in Morocco, beginning November 7.

“India had led from front to ensure the inclusion of climate justice and sustainable lifestyles in the Paris Agreement+ . We will put across this view based on Gandhian lifestyle in Morocco”, said environment minister Anil Madhav Dave.

Spelling out next course of action after India formally joined the Agreement, Dave said, “It is important that apart from emission cuts, we also focus on measures that involve broader participation. People in developed countries live extravagant lifestyles with high carbon footprint.

“Simple everyday changes in lifestyles, when practiced by a large number of people around the globe, collectively will make a huge impact”.

Source: India joins Paris Climate Change Agreement, submits instrument of ratification at UN headquarters – Times of India


China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters

China’s state planner has punished hundreds of coal and steel companies by forcing them to close or cut output for violating environmental and safety regulations, the latest effort to crack down on the country’s heavily polluting industries.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) forced two steel companies to shut completely, 29 firms to halt production and another 23 to curb output, it said in a statement on Thursday. The closures and curbs followed a nationwide inspection of more than 1,000 steel makers in the world’s top producer.

Among more than 4,600 coal mines inspected, the NDRC has revoked safety certificates for 28 coal mines and forced another 286 coal mines to halt production, it added.

The planner did not identify or name the companies, or give details on how the companies broke the rules and how long the penalties will be in place.

Beyond the safety and environment rules, the NDRC also listed other infractions such as violations of energy consumption rules or quality standards.

The statement reflects the government’s continued push to force ageing mills and mines to comply with tough new pollution rules by meeting emission standards and installing appropriate monitoring equipment.

China’s unwieldy coal and steel industries are considered two of the biggest sources of pollution in the country.

The government is targeting coal output cuts of 500 million tonnes in the next three to five years.

Source: China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters


China city shuts down waste burning plant over protests | Reuters

A city in central China is shutting down a waste incineration project, it said, after thousands of people protested against the plant over fears it will damage the environment and residents’ health.

Photos posted on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed dozens of riot police marching in the city of Xiantao, located in Hubei province in central China.

About 10,000 people protested in Xiantao on Sunday, the state-backed Global Times reported, citing a local resident, even after the local government said it planned to suspend the project on Sunday morning.

Another resident told Reuters by phone on Monday that the protests continued, and several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police.

“There are hundreds of police here because of the demonstrations,” said the resident, who declined to give his name because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The city government called on residents to refrain from taking “extreme actions” and spreading rumors in a statement on its official microblog.

Tens of thousands of “mass incidents” – the usual euphemism for protests – happen in China each year, spurred by grievances over issues such as corruption, pollution and illegal land grabs, unnerving the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party.

Last June, thousands of people protested in Jinshan, about 60 km (37 miles) from China’s commercial hub of Shanghai, against plans to build a chemical plant in the district.

A Xiantao official said that the planned plant’s emissions of dioxin, a toxic compound, would have been in line with European Union standards, state media reported.

Source: China city shuts down waste burning plant over protests | Reuters


China releases new action plan to tackle soil pollution | Reuters

China aims to curb worsening soil pollution by 2020 and stabilize and improve soil quality by 2030, the cabinet said in an action plan published on Tuesday.

The central government will set up a special fund to tackle soil pollution, as well as a separate fund to help upgrade technology and equipment in the heavy metal sector, the cabinet said in a statement on its website (

The government will also continue to eliminate outdated heavy metal capacity, the cabinet said.

Last year, the environment minister said 16 percent of China’s soil exceeded state pollution limits. Treatment costs for heavy metal or chemical contamination are high, and China has struggled to attract private funds for soil remediation.

According to Reuters calculations, the cost of making all of China’s contaminated land fit for crops or livestock would be around 5 trillion yuan ($760 billion), based on average industry estimates of the cost of treating one hectare.

Analysts have estimated the soil remediation market could be worth as much as 1 trillion yuan, but authorities have struggled to determine who should pay for rehabilitating contaminated land. Much of the responsibility for the costs now lies with impoverished local governments.

Researchers with Guohai Securities said earlier this year that there are currently 100 key soil remediation projects under way in China with an estimated total cost of 500 billion yuan. With no natural profit motive to encourage private companies to get involved, the clean-up programs have relied mostly on government funding.

China’s five-year plan published in March said the country would give priority to cleaning up contaminated soil used in agriculture. It promised also to strengthen soil pollution monitoring systems and promote new clean-up technologies.

Lawmakers said during the annual session of parliament in March that the country would introduce legislation to help tackle soil pollution by next year.

Companies involved in the sector include Beijing Orient Landscape and Ecology, Tus-Sound Environmental Resources, Beijing Originwater Technology and Guangxi Bossco Environmental Protection Technology.

($1 = 6.5836 Chinese yuan)

Source: China releases new action plan to tackle soil pollution | Reuters


Smog chokes Chinese, Indian capitals as climate talks begin | Reuters

The capitals of the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, were blanketed in hazardous, choking smog on Monday as climate change talks began in Paris, where leaders of both countries are among the participants.

China’s capital Beijing maintained an “orange” pollution alert, the second-highest level, on Monday, closing highways, halting or suspending construction and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors.

The choking pollution was caused by the “unfavourable” weather, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Sunday. Emissions in northern China soar over winter as urban heating systems are switched on and low wind speeds have meant that polluted air has not been dispersed.

In New Delhi, the U.S. embassy’s monitoring station recorded an air quality index of 372, which puts air pollution levels well into “hazardous” territory. A thick smog blanketed the city and visibility was down to about 200 yards (metres).

Air quality in the city of 16 million is usually bad in winter, when coal fires are lit by the poor to ward off the cold. Traffic fumes, too, are trapped over the city by a temperature inversion and the lack of wind.

However, the government has not raised any alarm over the current air quality and no advisories have been issued to the public. Thirty thousand runners took part in a half marathon at the weekend, when pollution levels were just as high.

In Beijing, a city of 22.5 million, the air quality index in some parts of the city soared to 500, its highest possible level. At levels higher than 300, residents are encouraged to remain indoors, according to government guidelines.

The hazardous air underscores the challenge facing the government as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry and will raise questions about its ability to clean up its economy at the talks in Paris.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both in Paris and both were scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday to give momentum to the two-week negotiations.

Source: Smog chokes Chinese, Indian capitals as climate talks begin | Reuters


China’s Air is Much Worse Than India’s, World Bank Report Shows – China Real Time Report – WSJ

India’s capital may have the worst air quality in the world on some days, but a new report shows that nationally, the air in the world’s second-most-populous country is far less polluted than in China.

In fact, China’s air is more than twice as dirty as India’s, according to recently released estimates by the World Bank.

The bank’s “Little Green Data Book” of environmental indicators, unveiled last week, included a new gauge of air pollution. To the standard measures of environmental health–including forest cover and carbon emissions–it added PM 2.5 levels, which measure airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns.

These tiny pollutants are microscopic and can enter the lungs and even pollute a person’s blood stream. They are linked to severe health problems including lung cancer.

“These data show that in many parts of the world exposure to air pollution is increasing at an alarming rate and has become the main environmental threat to health,” the forward of the World Bank book said. “Exposure to ambient PM 2.5 pollution in 2010 resulted in more than 3.2 million premature deaths globally.”

Using this measure, India’s air is far from clean. The World Bank data put the South Asian nation’s annual mean PM 2.5 at 32 micrograms per cubic meter. That’s three times the bank’s recommended level of 10 or less, but in line with the global average. It is also well below China’s mean annual exposure of 73 micrograms per cubic meter. .

Of the 200 countries in the book, only the United Arab Emirates did worse than China.

India’s environmental rankings fared better than China’s in other categories as well. India’s energy use and carbon emissions per capita were less than one third of those in China.

India’s PM 2.5 air pollution average is on par with other fast-growing Asian countries, but will likely rise as its economy expands.

The World Bank data showed that air quality deteriorates as countries evolve from lower income levels and become more affluent. Air only starts to improve once countries attain high-income status, which the World Bank defines as having gross national income per capita of $12,746 or more.

via China’s Air is Much Worse Than India’s, World Bank Report Shows – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


India launches air quality index to give pollution information – BBC News

India has launched its first air quality index, to provide real time information about pollution levels.

The index, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will initially monitor air quality in 10 cities.

Last year the Environmental Preference Index ranked India 174 out of 178 countries for air quality.

The rising and health-endangering pollution has been mainly blamed on a huge increase in vehicles, particularly diesel-driven cars, on Indian roads.

Polluting industries, open burning of refuse and leaves, massive quantities of construction waste and substantial loss of forests have also led to high pollution levels in cities.

A World Health Organization (WHO) survey last year found that 13 of the most polluted 20 cities in the world were in India. The capital, Delhi, was the most polluted city in the world, the survey said.

It is a leading cause of premature death in India, with about 620,000 people dying every year from pollution-related diseases, says the WHO.

On Monday, Mr Modi said India “has to take the lead in guiding the world on thinking of ways to combat climate change”.

via India launches air quality index to give pollution information – BBC News.


Chinese capital shuts third coal-fired plant in war on smog | Reuters

China’s smog-hit capital Beijing has shut down the third of its four coal-fired power plants as part of its campaign to cut pollution, with the final one scheduled to close next year, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

A security personnel walks near Tiananmen Gate on a heavily hazy day in Beijing October 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Jason Lee

In 2013, the city promised in its clean air action plan to bring annual coal consumption down to less than 10 million tonnes by 2017, a reduction of 13 million tonnes in just four years.

It said it would shut down all four of its coal-fired power plants within four years, a move that would cut annual coal consumption by around 9 million tonnes.

Officials also plan to reduce coal combustion in heating systems and industrial facilities, partly by switching to natural gas and by relocating some factories out of the city, and to phase out coal consumption completely by 2020.

A 400-megawatt facility owned by the Guohua Electric Power Co. Ltd was shut on Friday and replaced with a gas-fired plant. It followed the closure of a 93-year-old power station run by Beijing Jingneng Power on Thursday.

It shut its first coal-fired plant, the 600-MW Gaojing facility owned by the China Datang Corporation, last July.

Average levels of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 stood at 85.9 micrograms per cubic meters in 2014, down 4 percent compared with the previous year, but still far higher than the national air quality standard of 35 micrograms.

Beijing plans to bring readings down to 60 by 2017, the municipal environmental bureau said earlier this year.

Only eight of the 74 Chinese cities monitored by the Ministry of Environmental Protection met smog standards in 2014. Seven of the 10 worst-performing cities were in the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.

via Chinese capital shuts third coal-fired plant in war on smog | Reuters.


Chinese city shuts factories as environmental law bites | Reuters

An industrial city in eastern China has closed several factories, including many steel and nickel pig iron producers, in an apparent sign the government is stepping up enforcement of a new environmental law in the face of growing public discontent over pollution.

Premier Li Keqiang told the annual session of the National People’s Congress, or parliament, on Thursday his government would do everything it could to fight pollution.

China’s vast and energy-intensive steel sector is at the heart of the government’s war on pollution, but it also encapsulates the challenges of curbing smog without denting the economy. Complying with stricter standards would have knock-on effects throughout industry and raise costs for steel producers who are already feeling the pinch of tepid demand.

Most steel producers in Linyi, a city in coastal Shandong province, appear to have been shuttered, industry sources said.

“Almost all the steel-making production in Linyi has closed, and there is no date for when to resume production,” said an official with Linyi Yuansheng Casting Co Ltd, one of the mills in the city, who declined to be identified.

via Chinese city shuts factories as environmental law bites | Reuters.

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