Archive for ‘Pollution’

27/06/2016

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

31/05/2016

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 (www.gov.cn).

The government will also continue to eliminate outdated heavy metal capacity, the cabinet said.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

30/11/2015

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

23/06/2015

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.

07/04/2015

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.

22/03/2015

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.

06/03/2015

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.

04/03/2015

China hopes novice environment chief will be breath of fresh air | Reuters

One year after “declaring war” on pollution, China has appointed an inexperienced outsider as its new environment minister tasked with breathing life into a massive clean-up campaign that even optimists say will take decades to complete.

A woman covers her nose and mouth with her scarf amid heavy haze, as she rides a bicycle at the Pudong financial area in Shanghai, February 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Aly Song

Beijing has vowed to reverse the damage done to its skies, rivers and soil during China’s three-decade dash for growth, putting its under-resourced environment ministry under pressure to deliver results.

Leading that drive will be Chen Jining, 51, an environmental scientist and president of China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, who was appointed the country’s Minister of Environmental Protection on Friday.

As China’s annual parliament opens this week, Chen will need to show an increasingly angry public that the environment remains one of the top priorities, while reassuring thousands of regional delegates that there is still room for economic growth.

via China hopes novice environment chief will be breath of fresh air | Reuters.

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.