Posts tagged ‘environment’


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.


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.


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.


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.


China’s Environmental Problems Deepen With Mountaintop Removals – Businessweek

To create more flat land for the fast-growing cities in western China, local planners are increasingly turning to the drastic measure of bulldozing mountaintops and filling in valleys with dump trucks full of dirt.

Earth moving vehicles in northwest China's Gansu province

The impact of such massive earthmoving projects will have on soil conditions, erosion, groundwater, and other environmental factors remains largely unknown. Nor is it clear whether the filled-in land will provide adequate structural support for tall buildings; construction on unstable foundation has led to new high-rises tumbling elsewhere in China.

Three scientists from the School of Environmental Science and Engineering at Chang’an University in Xi’an last week published a forceful commentary in the journal Nature warning that “earthmoving on this scale without scientific support is folly.” As an example, they highlighted the city of Yan’an, in China’s central Shaanxi province, where planners aim to “double the city’s current area by creating 78.5 square kilometers of flat ground.” While the potential revenue from land sales is high, the scientists argue the risks are higher:

via China’s Environmental Problems Deepen With Mountaintop Removals – Businessweek.

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Government Study Finds 60 Percent of China’s Groundwater Polluted – Businessweek

At 59.6 percent of sites monitored by the Chinese government, the groundwater quality was “very polluted” or “relatively polluted”—that is, unfit for drinking—in 2013, according to a study released on Tuesday by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources.

A polluted canal in Beijing

The government tested 4,778 sites in 203 cities. The study showed that China’s water quality had worsened somewhat from the previous year, when 57.4 percent of test sites were classified as polluted.

Groundwater supplies about a fifth of China’s total water consumption. In the water-short north and northwest of China, groundwater accounts for 50 percent to 80 percent of water usage.

via Government Study Finds 60 Percent of China’s Groundwater Polluted – Businessweek.

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UAE-led group expects to sign $2 bln India power deal soon -sources | Reuters

TAQA, majority-owned by the Abu Dhabi government, is buying two hydropower plants owned by Jaiprakash Power Ventures in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

The plants have a total capacity of 1,300 megawatts. TAQA plans to take a majority stake in the plants while India’s IDFC Alternatives and PSP Investments, a Canadian pension fund manager, will hold minority stakes, the sources said.

“They are working to finalise it before the end of this quarter, reinforcing TAQA’s confidence in the Indian market to complement its existing power generation business there,” an Abu Dhabi source familiar with the matter said.

“The deal value is estimated to be slightly over $2 billion. The consortium is likely to take over the debts of the seller,” a second source said.

via UAE-led group expects to sign $2 bln India power deal soon -sources | Reuters.


China’s first ‘ivory crush’ signals it may join global push to protect African elephants – The Washington Post

China, the world’s biggest consumer of illegal ivory, crushed six tons of tusks and carved ornaments in public Monday, in an event that signaled it would do more to join global efforts to protect African elephants from rampant poaching.

About 25,000 of the estimated 500,000 elephants in Africa are illegally slaughtered each year for their tusks, conservationists say. It is a $10 billion industry that draws in global crime syndicates and African rebel groups, and threatens to wipe out elephants from parts of the continent within a decade.

Although Chinese authorities have stepped up anti-trafficking efforts in recent years, the trade in illegal ivory has continued, in part because many Chinese people do not know elephants have to die for the ivory to be taken.

On Monday, workers in overalls fed scores of weighty tusks and hundreds of small, intricately carved objects into a large, noisy green crushing machine in front of a crowd of officials, diplomats, conservationists and journalists in this small town just outside the southern city of Guangzhou.

“We also hope this event will raise the public awareness of conservation and intensify the responsibilities of enforcement agencies,” said Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Administration. Zhao admitted that ivory smuggling was “still raging” and said that China was “in urgent need of sincere collaboration with different countries and international organizations” to support elephant conservation.

Past efforts to curb ivory poaching have at times disintegrated into finger-pointing between officials in Africa — where corruption and weak law enforcement have allowed poachers to prosper — and countries such as China, where most of the ivory ends up.

via China’s first ‘ivory crush’ signals it may join global push to protect African elephants – The Washington Post.

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China and the Third Industrial Revolution


Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and best-selling author of The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World, ( ) just finished a two-week-long first visit to China, where he met with local and national officials, laying out his vision of a post-petroleum, Internet-connected world.

Jeremy Rifkin

Rifkin came to the attention of Chinese policymakers late last year, after the official Xinhua News Agencyreported that Premier Li Keqiang is a fan of his writings; Li has instructed top economic planning and strategy officials to read Rifkin’s books.

 The Third Industrial Revolution, whose Chinese edition sold more than 300,000 copies, predicts a future where renewable energy replaces fossil fuels, power is produced individually on millions of buildings on every continent, and transportation is converted to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles. Surplus energy will be exchanged over the Internet, cutting waste and boosting economic productivity, Rifkin writes. Bloomberg Businessweek caught up with the peripatetic author on Sept. 23 for an interview at Beijing’s Grand Hotel overlooking Tiananmen Square, just before his departure from China.

 Can you explain the challenge the global economy is facing and what needs to be done?

The second industrial revolution is clearly in sunset. The fossil fuels energies have matured, and they are getting more expensive. The global markets for fossil fuels are completely volatile.

 To exacerbate the problem, we are in these five-year cycles of growth and slowdown. [Last time] it started when oil hit $147 a barrel in July 2008. And what happened is purchasing power shut down all over the world because everything relies on oil. That was the earthquake and the shutdown in the global economy in 2008. The collapse of the financial markets 60 days later was the aftershock.

Now what has happened is the developing world has come into the game with a third of the human race. So every time we try to replenish inventories, we grow, and when we hit that zone of $122 to $140 per barrel, the price of oil forces all the other prices up, and purchasing power slows down. So we are in a second slowdown right now.

We need a new economic vision for the world. And it has to be compelling and a game plan that is deliverable. And it has to move as quickly in the developing countries as in the developed nations. We have to be off carbon in 30 years. The elephant is climate change. It is looking very dire at this point.

Can you describe a post-fossil-fuel third industrial revolution?

Renewable energies are found everywhere: the sun, the wind, heat under the ground, biomass, the ocean tides and waves. All of these energies are found in some frequency in every square inch of the planet, unlike coal, gas, or uranium, which are elite, require huge military and geopolitical investments, and a hell of a lot of capital.

Ten years from now we will have tens of millions of buildings around the world producing some small amount of green electricity. In 20 years we will have several hundred million buildings, and China will be the big player with Europe in this.

As the technology scales in [for renewables] it is getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, and it is following a similar build-out as computers and cell phones, in getting cheaper and cheaper.

Once you install the technology, the sun is free and the wind is free. So is the heat under the ground from the geothermal heat power. Just as we’ve gotten to near marginal zero cost [for information] with the Internet, as we move to these micro power plants, the actual energy is already at near zero marginal cost.

Why do you think your ideas resonate in China?

China has a number of agendas. China has to come up with a new economic reform plan under the new leadership. Secondly it has to urbanize the country. Third it has to bring western China up to par with its eastern part. And finally, it has to deal with the pollution that is literally killing its people.

To create a good Chinese Dream [a phrase popularized by Party Secretary Xi Jinping] for everyone, China has to knock out fossil fuels, because they are killing off this country. And China is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Many of the people I have spoken to said something along these lines: We missed the first industrial revolution totally. We missed almost all of the second industrial revolution. China came in during the last 15 years as it has sunsetted. So they have copied a revolution that is now on life support. China is determined to lead a third industrial revolution.

Why will China play a leading role in the third industrial revolution?

China has three assets that could position it, along with Europe, to be the leader of the third industrial revolution. Remember, Britain created the first industrial revolution because it had a lot of coal and it invented the steam engine to manage it. The United States created the second industrial revolution because it had lots of oil in Texas and Oklahoma, and we had the internal combustion engine and Henry Ford’s car.

China is ideally suited for the third industrial revolution because it has the most ample reserves of renewable energy resources in the world. It has the most solar radiance, most wind of any major country, off its coast. It has massive amounts of geothermal heat under the ground. It has massive amounts of biomass from its rural, agricultural areas. It is more than the Saudi Arabia of renewable energies. It can provide for every man, woman, and child here until kingdom come.

Asset No. 2, China has a social market economy like Europe. This is a huge asset. Infrastructure requires a social market economy. Infrastructure is something the government has to do and work with the business community to build it out. There is no example in the history of the world where infrastructure was put in by the private market.

The marketplace does not create public goods, so it is absurd to think companies will do it. You can not create the third industrial revolution if your entire business, investment, and financial community is focused on three-month quarterly statements. China is extremely comfortable with the government having this role and with long-term planning. In China they have five-year plans.

And the last asset: China has the cultural DNA to lead a third industrial revolution. In the West, our religious and philosophical tradition is that nature is the enemy, God has anointed us as masters, and we shall have dominion over nature. We exploit it.

Confucius completely parted with that. He said the meaning of the human journey is to extend empathy. And he said human beings are not separate from nature—we are part of nature. The key to the evolution of the human journey is finding a balance and harmony between humanity and nature.

This is China’s cultural DNA. It may not be practiced every day, but it is inside the DNA. And finally, no one wants in 30 to 40 years to be knee-deep in coal. If that is the case, they know they won’t be a great power.


Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China

BusinessWeek: “Recently, I was invited to the Beijing apartment of a Chinese friend in his mid-20s. An attentive host, he brought out a tray of washed grapes, but looked dubious when I was about to simply eat one. Because the grapes were almost surely sprayed with too many pesticides—and perhaps other dangerous chemicals—he explained that it was foolish to eat them directly and urged me to peel each grape first.

Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China

His reflexive wariness about food grown or packaged in China is hardly unique among college-educated Beijing residents. Some 38 percent of Chinese respondents told a recent Pew Research Center poll (PDF) that food safety is a “very big problem” in China. That’s up significantly from 2008, when only 12 percent of respondents agreed.

The Pew research team, which conducted 3,226 face-to-face interviews this spring, uncovered rising levels of concern about sundry public health issues in China. Fully 47 percent of respondents rated air pollution a “very big problem,” and 40 percent said the same of water pollution. That’s up from 31 percent and 28 percent, respectively, in 2008. Poll respondents who were younger (under age 30), wealthy, and living in cities were the most likely to express worry about food safety and product safety.”

via Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China – Businessweek.

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