Posts tagged ‘Pacific Ocean’


China and US to ratify landmark Paris climate deal ahead of G20 summit, sources reveal | South China Morning Post

China and the United States are set to jointly announce their ratification of a landmark climate change pact before the G20 summit early next month, the South China Morning Post has learned.

Senior climate officials from both countries worked late into the night in Beijing on Tuesday to finalise details, and a bilateral announcement is likely to be made on September 2, according to sources familiar with the issue.

President Xi Jinping will meet his US counterpart Barack Obama for the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, two days later on September 4.

How China, the ‘world’s largest polluter’, is taking on climate change

“There are still some uncertainties from the US side due to the complicated US system in ratifying such a treaty, but the announcement is still quite likely to be ready by Sept 2,” said a source, who declined to be named.

If both sides announce the ratification on the day, it would be the last major joint statement between the two leaders before Obama leaves office.

China and the US account for about 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.

By ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change, Beijing and Washington could generate momentum for the accord to come into effect as a binding international treaty.

The pact agreed by representatives from 195 countries in Paris last December aims to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels.

Countries began the ratification process on April 22, Earth Day, and by Tuesday, 23 nations had joined, but they account for just 1 per cent of emissions.

China and the US create a new climate for international collaboration on the environment

The treaty will enter into force only after 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of emissions ratify or join the deal in other ways.

China had said earlier it would ratify the accord before the G20 summit in September.

In June, the US said it would “work towards” approving the deal before end of the year, with the White House keen to seal a key part of Obama’s environmental protection legacy before he leaves office in January.

US law allows the nation to join international agreements in a number of ways, including through the authority of the president.

With China and US joining, some civil society trackers say they are confident the deal could hit the 55 per cent threshold before the end of the year.

On Wednesday, investors managing more than US$13 trillion of assets urged leaders of the Group of Twenty major economies to ratify the deal before the end of December.

The 130 investors also called for the G20 to double global investment in clean energy, develop carbon pricing and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

How a little-known chapter in Sino-US cooperation may have helped save the planet

“Governments must ratify the Paris agreement swiftly and have a responsibility to implement policies that drive better disclosure of climate risk, curb fossil fuel subsidies and put in place strong pricing signals sufficient to catalyse the significant private sector investment in low carbon solutions,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive at Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

Ratification is expected to play out differently in the US compared with China.

While China has “few uncertainties” at home for passing the deal, it could cause controversy within the US, according to Liu Shuang, an officer with Energy Foundation’s low-carbon development programme.But the Obama administration’s commitment to international frameworks suggests the accord would be passed in a way that would make it difficult for his successors to undo, civil society trackers said.

‘I may do something else’: Donald Trump’s threat to renegotiate UN climate deal greeted with widespread dismay

The two countries started extensive cooperation at the leadership level in 2014. In a joint declaration that year, China promised its emissions would peak before 2030, while the US promised to cut emission by at least 26 per cent. That deal is widely regarded as paving the way for the Paris Agreement.

Source: China and US to ratify landmark Paris climate deal ahead of G20 summit, sources reveal | South China Morning Post


India orders 4 more maritime spy planes from Boeing worth $1 billion | Reuters

India has signed a pact with Boeing Co for purchasing four maritime spy planes at an estimated $1 billion, defence and industry sources said, aiming to bolster the navy as it tries to check China’s presence in the Indian Ocean.

India has already deployed eight of these long-range P-8I aircraft to track submarine movements in the Indian Ocean and on Wednesday exercised an option for more planes, a defence ministry source said.

“It has been signed,” the source familiar with the matter told Reuters. An industry source confirmed the contract, saying it was a follow-on order signed in New Delhi early on Wednesday.

Source: India orders 4 more maritime spy planes from Boeing worth $1 billion | Reuters


Why India’s monsoon is difficult to forecast | The Economist

METEOROLOGISTS are forecasting a bumper monsoon for India this year. This is good news for the more than 600m people—about half of India’s population—who depend on the rains it brings. Knowing when and where the monsoon will arrive is especially important for farmers; even now, two-thirds of India’s fields lack irrigation. But forecasting the monsoon remains fantastically difficult, especially as four in every ten monsoons are classified as abnormal anyway. What makes India’s monsoon so unpredictable?

The word monsoon derives from mausam in Hindi (and originally from Arabic), meaning “weather”. Monsoon climates typically have two very distinct seasons: wet and dry. In India, the onslaught of the rains begins when moist air is carried northwards from the Indian ocean during the summer. The winds transporting the main or “south-west” monsoon come from an area south of the equator which is characterised by high atmospheric pressure. As the air gathers moisture during the journey, atmospheric convection forms huge storm clouds which arrive first in southern India around early June (as they did this year). The monsoon creeps north and west, showering Pakistan and north India about a month later. By September it is in retreat, and has normally withdrawn from the south of the country by December. Many factors seem to affect the duration and intensity of the monsoon. One is El Niño, a climatic phenomenon associated with warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific ocean. Last year the monsoon proved disappointing while El Niño was in full swing: total rainfall between June and September was 14% below the 50-year average. How exactly the phenomenon interacts with the monsoon is not well understood, however, as even large Niños in the past have coincided with normal monsoons.

Anthropogenic emissions also seem to affect rain patterns. India is the world’s fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. The insulating effect of such emissions helped make last year the hottest on record; this year looks set to be even more scorching. A warmer atmosphere probably means even greater variability in the monsoon. Rainfall extremes are expected to increase, thanks in part to the fact that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture (about 7% more, for every degree Celsius of warming). Air pollution complicates matters further. It is a terrible problem in India, contributing to more than 600,000 early deaths a year. Cooking at home, and the smoke it releases, accounts for much of the trouble. Aerosols such as black carbon interact with sunlight. Some of these tiny particles—many less than a tenth the width of a human hair—scatter light, while others absorb it. In the former case, this prevents the light from warming the earth’s surface. In the latter, absorbing the light causes the particles to warm the air around them. Both alter the heating of the atmosphere, and therefore the heating of the land relative to the ocean—the process which drives the monsoon.

Scientists are using a variety of techniques to better forecast the monsoon, from monitoring changes in land use (because vegetation stores more moisture) to sending underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal (to learn more about the salinity and temperature of the ocean). Their research could improve climate models and farming practices—but improved water-storage facilities, better irrigation and more access to insurance schemes might have to make up for the gaps in knowledge that will persist.

Source: The Economist explains: Why India’s monsoon is difficult to forecast | The Economist


China’s nuclear plant plans get new momentum – Business –

State Council gives green light for two reactors at Hongyan River in Liaoning

China's nuclear plant plans get new momentum

China’s nuclear energy development plans got a fresh impetus on Wednesday after the State Council gave the green light for new reactors at the Hongyan River nuclear power plant.

According to industry sources, units 5 and 6 of the Hongyan River nuclear plant in the northeastern Liaoning province got construction approval from the State Council before the Lunar New Year.

“It is a big step forward for China to revive the industry and more nuclear projects are expected to start construction this year. However, the official documents are yet to be finalized,” a source in a State-owned nuclear company told China Daily.

New nuclear projects are also in the pipeline, the source said, adding that the moves would help optimize China’s energy mix amid mounting pressure from air pollution.

Tang Bo, an official at the National Nuclear Safety Administration, said earlier that the regulatory body has been working on the environmental impact assessment and safety inspection of nuclear projects including the Hongyan River nuclear project, the Shidao Bay nuclear demonstration project in Shandong province and units 5 and 6 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian province.

“We have drawn up a draft list of new projects for final approval,” he told China Daily earlier. “Our job is to clear the potential risks and help with the technical preparation of the nuclear sites before the government’s final approval,” he said.

Following the Hongyan River nuclear project, units 5 and 6 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant are the next possible candidates for approval, experts said.

“The Fuqing nuclear project will possibly get the nod from the government in April at the earliest,” the source said.

The equipment purchase order for units 5 and 6 of the Fujing nuclear power plant, which uses the Hualong One reactor design, known as the third-generation nuclear technology, is nearly complete, the source said.

China, with the world’s largest number of nuclear power plants under construction, is now pushing ahead to embark on a program of new nuclear projects to reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption.

Last year, the State Council rolled out an energy plan to have a more efficient, self-sufficient, green and innovative energy production and consumption mechanism.

The plan targets to have 58 gigawatts of nuclear power in operation by 2020 and at least 30 gW under construction. To meet that target, China needs to add at least another 10 gW of installed capacity with approval of six to eight reactors each year, according to estimates from industry experts.

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, China suspended approval for nuclear plants in order to revise its safety standards. However, it lifted the ban on new nuclear power stations at the end of 2012, and said it would only approve projects proposed for coastal areas within 2015.

via China’s nuclear plant plans get new momentum – Business –


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.


India’s Aging Military Equipment Claims Another Life – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian warships and aircraft are continuing to scour the seas off the country’s southeastern coast in search of four sailors who went missing after a torpedo recovery vessel sank on Thursday evening claiming the life of one sailor.

A navy official said the A 72 vessel, that is over 30 years old, sank while on a mission to “recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships during a routine exercise, when she experienced flooding in one of her compartments”.

Soon after the incident, navy ships rescued 23 of the 28 sailors on board, he said.

“Nine ships and some aircraft have been deployed to look for” the missing sailors,” the official said.

Despite the increased focus on safety, India’s armed forces, particularly the navy, have been hit by a series of accidents recently, some of them deadly.

In March, a naval commander died during a gas leak in destroyer that was under-construction in a shipyard in Mumbai.

On Feb. 26,  after a fire on INS Sindhuratna—a Soviet-built submarine–left two submariners dead, India’s naval chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, resigned taking “moral responsibility” for a series of fatal naval accidents under his watch.

The most devastating took place in August last year when 18 sailors died after explosions and a fire rocked a Russian-built sub, INS Sindhurakshak, in a Mumbai dockyard.

The incidents cast a shadow over the South Asian country’s efforts to modernize its military mainly by replacing Soviet-era equipment.

Prompted in part by the rapid modernization of the Chinese navy and buildup of China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is increasing its focus on maritime security.

via India’s Aging Military Equipment Claims Another Life – India Real Time – WSJ.


China Says It Wants To Build Massive Railway To America

China has announced an ambitious engineering plan to build a bullet train railway to America, state media reported Thursday.

Possible route of a bridge or tunnel across th...

Possible route of a bridge or tunnel across the Bering Strait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The massive railway network, nicknamed “China-Russia-Canada-America,” would run north from China, through Siberia and Russia, under the Pacific Ocean to Alaska, then down through Canada to the contiguous United States, The Guardian reports.

The trip from China to the contiguous U.S. would take less than two days, with trains traveling about 217 mph, according to The Beijing Times. China will reportedly fund the construction of the 8,079 miles of railway track, including a 125-mile underwater tunnel across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska.

But this may not be the best time for China to embark on such an epic undertaking, considering the country’s railway industry is in the red, as The Economic Times points out.

“China’s railway sector is still being haunted by deep debts. Therefore, even with the government’s support, it must persuade banks to lend a colossal amount of money,” an unnamed expert from Beijing Jiaotong University told The Economic Times.

Aside from financial challenges, many are skeptical of whether the engineering required to build such a massive network is feasible.

According to The Guardian, “The Bering Strait tunnel alone would require an unprecedented feat of engineering – it would be the world’s longest undersea tunnel – four times the length of the Channel Tunnel” connecting the United Kingdom and France.

China Daily claims that the technology needed to construct the undersea tunnel is already available. But even if it is, The Economist’s Gulliver business travel blog says the railway plan is simply not a realistic or necessary project.

“Languorous tourists might love it, just as they do the Orient Express or the Ghan train through the Australian Outback, and I suppose it might also carry some freight. But still, there is no practical case for it,” the blog post’s author writes. “Nonetheless, such ambition is to be admired in an abstract way.”

The Guardian notes that it is unclear whether China has consulted Russia, the U.S. or Canada about the project.

via China Says It Wants To Build Massive Railway To America.

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China pivots to Latin America

China is tired of US meddling in the west Pacific. This is one of the steps it is taking to rebalance the power-politics between it and the US. Worthy of Sun Tzu.

China Daily Mail

In September of this year, China announced a $40 billion investment to build a canal through Nicaragua that is to be an incredible engineering marvel. The proposed canal is still in the early stages of development, and was rapidly pushed through the Nicaraguan parliament earlier this year. The potential waterway is expected to dwarf the Panama Canal both in economic prospects and in sheer size and glamour. The Panama Canal has long been associated with the military and economic might of America in the region.

However, with the proposed Nicaraguan Canal, it represents a shift in world geopolitics with China becoming an economic powerhouse in the region that is long considered to be America’s private backyard. With America preoccupied with the “Pivot to Asia” and neglecting Latin America, China is stepping up with its own “Pivot to Latin America.”

China is right to work towards closer relations with…

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China-U.S. Military Ties Grow as They Eye Each Other at Sea – Bloomberg

China’s official People’s Daily newspaper lambasted the U.S. when it led the most recent RIMPAC naval drill, the Pacific Ocean military simulation held every other year. The 22-nation exercise reflected Washington’s bid to “contain the military rise of another country,” it said.

Chinese Sailors

Next year, Chinese ships will join the Rim of the Pacific exercise for the first time. During a visit to the Pentagon last month, Foreign Minister Wang Yi described military ties as a “bright spot” in the U.S.-China relationship.

Enlarge image

Chinese sailors stand on board a frigate berthed in Shanghai. Photographer: Guillaume Klein/AFP/Getty Images

Wang’s words and China’s participation reflect a changed attitude as the world’s two biggest militaries boost contacts despite competing for influence in the Asia-Pacific, home to shipping lanes and resource reserves. The closer ties will be tested as China grows more assertive in a region dotted with nations that would call for U.S. help if attacked.

“The competition and conflicts between China and the U.S. will still be there, but it will prevent them from escalating to an unmanageable level,” Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said by phone. “It is preventable diplomacy rather than positive cooperation.”

U.S.-China ties will be on display at next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders meeting in Bali. China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea may be discussed, along with changing U.S. and Chinese roles in the region.

Rising Competition

Military competition between the the U.S. and China is on the rise even as the two foster closer links, with China’s defense budget more than doubling since 2006. Though its military spending is less than one-fifth of the U.S., China has developed drones, stealth fighters and an aircraft carrier while deploying a type of anti-ship ballistic missile the U.S. says is meant to threaten U.S. carriers in the region.

That buildout comes as China has pushed its territorial claims more forcefully in the South and East China seas and as the U.S. Navy plans to move more forces to the region in a strategic shift. Four Chinese Coast Guard ships entered Japan-controlled waters around disputed islands about 9 a.m. and left about 11 a.m. today, Japan’s Coast Guard said in e-mailed statements.

China’s naval expansion “is largely about countering” the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Captain James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii, said in a January presentation at a conference in San Diego.

Mutual Defense

“They want to have the capability to make sure that events do not occur in those three seas that they do not approve of,” said Bernard Cole, a former Navy officer who teaches at the National War College in Washington, referring to the Yellow, East and South China seas. “The problem from a U.S. perspective is that we have mutual defense treaties with South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.”

Recent contacts offer a counterpoint to unease on both sides. In August, China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan visited the Pentagon and the commander of China’s navy, Admiral Wu Shengli, got a tour of a U.S. Los Angeles-class attack submarine in San Diego in September. Also last month, three Chinese ships joined search-and-rescue exercises with the U.S. off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

RIMPAC is held by the U.S. Pacific Fleet in seas around the Hawaiian islands. The exercises once trained for conflict with the Soviet Union and later included Russia as a participant. China was an observer to the drills in 1998.

Attend Exercise

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi announced China would attend the exercise after a summit between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping in California in June. During the talks, the two vowed to build “a new type of military relations,” Yang said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

“This is to us a very visible manifestation of the idea that a rising China can provide a positive contribution to international security,” U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller said of China’s participation in RIMPAC when he visited Beijing Sept. 10.

Still, closer ties between the U.S. and the People’s Liberation Army can be reversed, Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said by phone. The visits and the RIMPAC exercises are the “warm fuzzies of military diplomacy,” he said.

U.S. reconnaissance as well as arms sales to Taiwan remain problems in the military relationship with China, Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher with the PLA Academy of Military Science, wrote in the People’s Daily in August.

Sensitive Information

China’s participation in RIMPAC sparked concern in the U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, introduced an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act seeking to limit Chinese exposure to “sensitive information obtained through military-to-military contacts.”

“This it not like turning over an entirely new leaf, this is just one small step forward to develop a slightly more positive relationship with the PLA,” Bitzinger said. “There’s going to be steps forward and steps backward. And every time there’s a step backward generally U.S.-allied ties get stronger.”

via China-U.S. Military Ties Grow as They Eye Each Other at Sea – Bloomberg.


Papua New Guinea reconsiders China as a partner

So not everyone who is wooed by China responds without reservations!

China Daily Mail

China Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah asking him to review a $300 million deal with China’s ZTE Corporation and China Great Wall Industry Corp for a communications satellite.

This is the latest of a series of complications in the relationship between PNG and China, which was for many years warm but remained chiefly diplomatic.

More recently, however, soft loans through the Export-Import Bank of China and other Chinese channels have facilitated much closer engagement, with Chinese companies taking a prominent role in development projects around the country – resulting in some tough lessons starting to be learned on both sides.

First, state-owned giant Metallurgical Group Corporation built the $1.4 billion Ramu nickel mine, which recently began operating after a two-year hiatus while environmental issues were fought through the courts.

Then a year ago China provided a $3bn soft loan to rebuild…

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