Posts tagged ‘Greenpeace’


Infrastructure: Aerotropolitan ambitions | The Economist

POLITICIANS in London who have been debating for years over whether to approve the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport might find a visit to Zhengzhou—an inland provincial capital little known outside China—an eye-opening experience. Some 20,000 workers are labouring around the clock to build a second terminal and runway for the city’s airport. They are due to begin test operations by December, just three years after ground was broken. By 2030, officials expect, the two terminals and, by then, five runways will handle 70m passengers yearly—about the same as Heathrow now—and 5m tonnes of cargo, more than three times as much as Heathrow last year.

But the ambitions of Zhengzhou airport (pictured) are far bigger than these numbers suggest. It aspires to be the centre of an “aerotropolis”, a city nearly seven times the size of Manhattan with the airport not a noisy intrusion on its edge but built into its very heart. Its perimeter will encompass logistics facilities, R&D centres, exhibition halls and factories that will link central China to the rest of the global economy. It will include homes and amenities for 2.6m people by 2025, about half as many as live in Zhengzhou’s main urban area today. Heathrow struggles to expand because of Londoners’ qualms, but China’s urban planners are not bothered by grumbling; big building projects rarely involve much consulting of the public.

via Infrastructure: Aerotropolitan ambitions | The Economist.


Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek

The villagers of Dharnai in northern India had been living without electricity for more than 30 years when Greenpeace installed a microgrid to supply reliable, low-cost solar power.

Cooking By Candlelight

Then, within weeks of the lights flickering on in Dharnai’s mud huts, the government utility hooked up the grid — flooding the community with cheap power that undercut the fledgling solar network. While Greenpeace had come to Dharnai at Bihar’s invitation, the unannounced arrival of the state’s utility threatened to put it out of business.

“We wanted to set this up as a business model,” said Abhishek Pratap, a Greenpeace campaigner overseeing the project. “Now we’re in course correction.”

It’s a scenario playing out at dozens of ventures across India’s hinterlands. Competition from state utilities, with their erratic yet unbeatably cheap subsidized power, is scuppering efforts to supply clean, modern energy in a country where more people die from inhaling soot produced by indoor fires than from smoking.

About as many people in India are without electricity as there are residents of the U.S., and the number is growing by a Mumbai every year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to bring electricity to every home by 2019 by leapfrogging the nation’s ailing power-distribution infrastructure with solar-powered local networks — the same way mobile-phones have enabled people in poor, remote places to bypass landlines.

via Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek.


A Green Group Sees Hope in ‘The End of China’s Coal Boom’ – –

A report from Greenpeace charts slowing growth in China’s coal use.

Through much of its history, Greenpeace has been big on what I call “woe is me, shame on you” messaging on the environment. As I explained at a TEDx event in Portland, Ore., over the weekend, fingerpointing (including Greenpeace’s) is appropriate in many instances, but doesn’t work well with human-driven global warming. The blame game too often ends up resembling a circular firing squad.

This is why “The End of China’s Coal Boom,” a valuable new report from Greenpeace’s East Asia office, is so refreshing and worth exploring. I was led to it by a Twitter item from the group’s outgoing director, Phil Radford, that focused on a telling graphic:

View image on Twitter

via A Green Group Sees Hope in ‘The End of China’s Coal Boom’ – –

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China’s Coal Thirst Strains Its Water Supplies

BusinessWeek: “The Wulanmulun River once ran through Daliuta, a town in China’s northern Shaanxi province. All that remains of the waterway today is a pond, which locals say is contaminated by waste from the world’s biggest underground coal mine. Environmentalists also contend that mining is sapping the area’s groundwater supplies. “I worry about the water,” says Zhe Mancang, the 58-year-old owner of a liquor store in town. “But my family’s here, and my customers are from the mines.”

The once-mighty Xiang River, in Changsha, Hunan province

Daliuta is the epicenter of a looming collision between China’s scarce supplies of water and heavy reliance on coal, which diverts millions of liters a day for its extraction and cleaning. “You can’t reconcile targets for coal production in, say, Shaanxi province and Inner Mongolia with their water targets,” says Charles Yonts, head of sustainable research at brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Hong Kong.

About 28,000 rivers have dried up across China since 1990, according to the country’s Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics of China, and those that remain are mostly polluted. China’s per-person share of fresh water is 1,730 cubic meters, close to the 1,700 cubic meter level the United Nations deems “stressed.”

The situation is worse in the north, where half of China’s population, most of its coal, and only 20 percent of its water are located. A government plan to boost coal production and build more power plants near mines will lift industrial demand for water in Inner Mongolia 141 percent by 2015 from 2010 levels, causing aquifers to dry up and deserts to expand, according to a report Greenpeace commissioned from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “After five years there won’t be enough water in Ordos in Inner Mongolia,” says Sun Qingwei, director of the climate and energy campaign at Greenpeace in Beijing. “The mines are stealing groundwater from agriculture. Local governments want their economies to boom.”

China’s central government is responding with tighter limits on water usage, a new approach to rates that allows for steep price increases, and plans to spend 4 trillion yuan ($652 billion) by 2020 to boost water infrastructure. Rules enacted this year require the manufacturing hubs of Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces and Shanghai to reduce water use every year even as their economies expand. In May 2012 authorities in the city of Guangzhou hiked prices 50 percent for residents and 89 percent for industrial users to help pay for improvements in the water supply, according to an April report by Goldman Sachs Group (GS).

To alleviate shortages in the north, the central government in 2002 approved the 500 billion yuan South-to-North water diversion project. The plan is to move 44.8 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River annually along three routes. The first leg, slated for completion this year, will measure 1,467 kilometers, roughly double the length of the Erie Canal.

Even this massive undertaking may not be enough: A 2009 report by a group that includes Coca-Cola (KO) and SABMiller (SBMRY) noted that China’s annual demand may exceed supply by as much as 200 billion cubic meters by 2030, unless “major capital investments to strengthen water supplies are made beyond those presently planned.”

Chinese industry uses 4 to 10 times more water per unit of production than the average in developed countries, according to research firm China Water Risk in Hong Kong. Only 40 percent of industrial water is recycled, compared with 75 percent to 85 percent in developed countries, the World Bank says.

If the situation becomes dire enough, companies might consider transferring production elsewhere. “In an absolute worst case you’d see a large-scale shift in economic activity and population further south for lack of water, and manufacturing increasingly moving abroad,” says Scott Moore, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Sustainability Science Program.

Farmers in some parts of China are already paying the price, as they have to dig deeper and deeper wells to find clean water or are being forced out by local governments who see bigger economic gains from mining. In Zhanggaijie village, in Shaanxi province, Li Qiaoling says she is one of 200 people awaiting compensation after a coal mine polluted the local water supply. Officials have also promised to relocate the villagers. “We’re angry because we have to leave,” says Li, who still grows corn on her small plot, despite the contamination. “We’re worried about moving to a strange place.”

via China’s Coal Thirst Strains Its Water Supplies – Businessweek.


* China expands pollution monitoring to biggest cities

Reuters: “China plans to release hourly air pollution monitoring data in 74 of its biggest cities starting on New Year’s Day, state media said on Sunday, in a sign of increasing responsiveness to quality-of-life concerns among prosperous urban people.

Choking pollution and murky grey skies in Chinese cities is a top gripe among both Chinese and expatriates.

Microscopic pollutant particles in the air have killed about 8,600 people prematurely this year and cost $1 billion in economic losses in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an, according to a study by Beijing University and Greenpeace that measured the pollutant levels of PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

The new monitoring will include not only PM2.5, but also sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, the Xinhua news agency said, citing a Friday announcement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.”

via China expands pollution monitoring to biggest cities | Reuters.


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