Posts tagged ‘pollution’

22/01/2016

Beijing shut down over 1,000 factories over past 5 years|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

Very good news, indeed.

Beijing has closed 1,006 manufacturing and polluting enterprises over the past five years, the municipal government revealed Friday.

In addition, 228 markets were also closed over the period, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun said in a government work report presented during the city’s annual parliamentary session, which opened Friday.

More than 13,000 applications for new businesses have also been rejected because they were on the list of prohibited or restricted operations, Wang said.

Beijing had closed or relocated nearly 400 polluting factories in 2014 and another 300 in 2015, previous figures show.”

Source: Beijing shut down over 1,000 factories over past 5 years|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

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10/12/2015

Raise the green lanterns | The Economist

WHEN world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss cutting planet-heating emissions, a pall of smog hung over Beijing. In parts of the capital levels of fine particulate matter reached 30 times the limit deemed safe.

Though air pollution and climate change are different things, Chinese citydwellers think of them in the same, poisoned breath. The murky skies seemed irreconcilable with the bright intentions promised in France.

Yet a marked change has taken place in China’s official thinking. Where once China viewed international climate talks as a conspiracy to constrain its economy, it now sees a global agreement as helpful to its own development.

China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s increase in the carbon dioxide emitted since 2000. It has come a long way in recognising the problem. When China first joined international climate talks, the environment was just a minor branch of foreign policy. The ministry for environmental protection had no policymaking powers until 2008. Only in 2012 did public pressure force cities to publish air-pollution data.

Yet today China pledges to cap carbon emissions by 2030 (reversing its former position that, as a developing power, it should not be bound to an absolute reduction); and it says it will cut its carbon intensity (that is, emissions per unit of GDP) by a fifth, as well as increase by the same amount the electricity generated from sources other than fossil fuels. The latest five-year plan, a blueprint for the Communist Party’s intentions that was unveiled last month, contains clear policy prescriptions for making economic development more environmentally friendly.

There’s more

Right after the Paris summit, however it ends, China is expected to make more promises in a new document, co-written by international experts, that presents a far-reaching programme of how China should clean up its act. It is based on models that account for both economic and political viability. On top of existing plans, such as launching a national emissions-trading scheme in 2017, the government may even outline proposals for a carbon tax, something that has eluded many prosperous countries in the West.

The big question is why China is now so serious about climate change. The answer is not that Communist leaders are newly converted econuts. Rather, they want to use environmental concerns to rally domestic support for difficult reforms that would sustain growth in the coming decades. Since a global slowdown in 2008 it has become clear that to continue growing, China must move its economy away from construction and energy-intensive industry towards services. At the same time, China faces an energy crunch. For instance, in recent years China has been a net importer of coal, which generates two-thirds of China’s electricity. It all argues for growth plans that involve less carbon.

This is where signing international accords, such as the one hoped for in Paris, come in, for they will help the government fight entrenched interests at home. Observers see a parallel with China’s joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001. It allowed leaders to push through internal economic reform against fierce domestic opposition. In the same way, a global climate treaty should help it take tough measures for restructuring the economy.

It will not be easy. Provincial party bosses and state-owned enterprises hate to shut factories, particularly in those parts of the country, such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia in the north, where coal is a big employer. Cutting demand for energy is even harder. Even if the amount of electricity used by state industry falls, that used by private firms and households is bound to increase. What is more, environmental regulations and laws laid down by the centre are routinely flouted.

But cleaning up China’s act has, for the central government, become a political necessity too. Environmental issues have been major public concerns for over a decade, says Anthony Saich of Harvard University, which has conducted polls. True, rural people fret most (and with good reason) about water pollution. But those in the cities gripe about their toxic air. Both represent a reproach to the government over its neglect of people’s lives and health.

That is why national economic goals, political goals, public opinion and international pressure all point towards trying to cut emissions, pollutants included. In particular, says Zhang Zhongxiang of Tianjin University, now that dealing with climate change is a pillar of China’s diplomacy, the government must show it can keep its promises. It has some tools at its disposal. Across the country, the environmental record of government officials has become a crucial part of their evaluation by the Communist Party; and cadres will be held account

Source: Raise the green lanterns | The Economist

26/05/2015

Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.

The replacement is being made in an attempt to reduce coal consumption to achieve better air quality.

“The closure of the coal-fired power plants will greatly improve air quality, considering that 22 percent of air pollutants are from coal consumption,” said Zhang Wangcai, deputy director of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Bureau.

Two gas-fired thermal power plants have been operating since October and have reduced coal consumption by 3.95 metric tons annually, he said.

Beijing has also restricted coal consumption by companies and households for heating in the past two years by supplying them with gas or other cleaner fuels instead.

“By the end of this year, we will reduce coal consumption by 8 million tons,” Zhang said, adding that a reduction of 7.1 million tons has already been achieved.

Li Xiang, deputy head of atmospheric environment management at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the reduction of coal consumption at the two power plants has been a major reason for the better air quality in the capital in the first four months of this year.

She said people in the capital have seen a distinct improvement in air quality in the first four months, during which there were 57 days when the quality was better than the national standard – eight days more than during the same period last year.

The concentration of PM2.5 – air particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health – has been lowered by 19 percent and the number of days with serious pollution reduced by 42 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, authorities launched efforts to reduce air pollution in support of the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zhang said the government will make further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants, including restricting coal consumption as planned, which will further improve air quality.

In addition to the two thermal power plants already operating, another will start working in July and a fourth will be ready to operate in November next year, he said.

By 2017, Beijing will have all its power generated by clean-energy gas, and coal consumption will be cut by 9.2 million tons annually – the equivalent amount used for the four coal-burning thermal power plants.

Gas consumption will increase to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017, of which 98 percent will be supplied through a variety of channels including foreign countries, Zhang said, adding that Beijing consumed 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas last year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the list of air quality in April in the 74 major cities on Monday.

In April, seven of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in Hebei province, but the region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality, said Luo Yi, head of the ministry’s Environmental Supervision Bureau.

The PM2.5 concentration in the region has been reduced on average by 18.3 percent year-on-year and was 16.3 percent lower in April than in March, he said.

via Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

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.

01/04/2015

China to unveil measures to fight water pollution | Reuters

China is to launch an action plan to protect the quality of its scarce water resources after years of rapid economic growth that have left much of its water supply too polluted for human consumption or for growing food.

The plan, expected to be published this month, will require firms in heavily polluting industries such as paper mills and dye and chemical plants to treat discharged water and it will set higher penalties for those that violate rules on discharging pollutants, according to official media reports.

One third of China’s major river basins and 60 percent of its underground water are contaminated, according to official data, posing a major threat to public health and food security.

The long-awaited action plan is expected to be approved by the cabinet this month to give it legal powers to hold polluters and local authorities responsible.

“The plan will ring an alarm bell with local authorities who did little to protect water and will help to remove the regional segregation that constrained the growth of the water treatment business,” said He Yuanping, executive vice president of Originwater, a private clean water technology company.

He estimated the treatment business could be worth more than 2 trillion yuan ($323 billion) in terms of the total investment involved, including assets owned by local governments.

via China to unveil measures to fight water pollution | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing and other first-tier cities in China remain the major sources of outflux of passengers in this Spring Festival travel rush but the capital is also one of the top three destinations for the influx of travelers, according to search engine giant Baidu.com.

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers

This is an indication that an increasing number of people who work or study away from their hometowns are choosing to invite their families to celebrate Spring Festival at big cities rather than head home.

According to the latest data until Monday morning, the top five cities that saw most outflow of passengers were Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Dongguan and Guangzhou, where there are huge number of migrant workers.

The top five cities of influx of travelers were Chongqing, Ganzhou in Jiangxi province, Beijing, Yulin in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and Fuyang in Anhui province. Apart from Beijing, the other four cities have been major sources of labor flow over the years.

An interactive map by baidu.com shows China’s top 10 cities with the largest outflux of travelers.

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers

The trips from Shanghai to Lu’an, and Fuyang, two cities in East Anhui province, were the two busiest travel routes, the data showed.

Beijing to Zhoukou, Central Henan province, and Beijing to Harbin, Northeast Heilongjiang province, were also on the list of the 10 busiest travel routes. The other busy travel routes on the list include Shenzhen to Chongqing in Southwest China, and to Huanggang, Central Hubei province.

The list showed the difference of the sources of migrant workers in the three first-tier cities.

Baidu has been tracking the mass movement of people for this year’s Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, since February 7, three days after the kick-off of the annual Spring Festival travel rush, also known as chunyun in Chinese.

The Ministry of Transport is anticipating an overall holiday-season passenger flow of more than 2.8 billion person-times in this year’s Spring Festival travel, a 3.4 percent growth over 2014.

The interactive map of the research, which can be seen at http://qianxi.baidu.com/, is updated hourly, and has been logging the locations in which data requests were made to its maps service.

via Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

26/01/2015

Urbanisation: The great sprawl of China | The Economist

IN ANCIENT times, Beijing built towering city walls that helped to prevent undefendable sprawl. These days it builds ring roads, stretching built-up areas ever outwards. Near Langfang, a city halfway between the capital and its giant neighbour Tianjin, diggers dip their heads and cement mixers churn, paving the next circular expressway. When complete, the 900km (560-mile) Seventh Ring Road will surround Beijing at such a distance that most of it will run through the neighbouring province of Hebei, to which Langfang belongs, rather than the capital itself. Parts of it are 175km from Beijing’s centre (see map).

The Seventh Ring Road (really the sixth, but for obscure reasons there is no First Ring Road) is emblematic of modern Chinese cities: giant, sprawling and dominated by cars. Even before it is completed in a year or two (and its use assessed), another, even longer, orbital is being plotted. Like many of China’s infrastructure projects, the new road displays engineering prowess. The country’s successes in urban planning are less evident.

Breakneck urban growth has propelled China’s rise in the past three decades. Migration from the countryside has helped expand the urban population by 500m—the biggest movement of humanity the planet has seen in such a short time. Over half the population is now urban. Some live in the basements of apartment blocks, or in shacks built in courtyards. But Chinese cities have mostly avoided the squalor of many developing-world ones.

The result of this urban growth is not just that China has many large cities—more than 100 of them have more than a million people—but that some are supersized. At the end of last year the government at last acknowledged the special nature of these, introducing the term “megacity” to describe those whose populations, including that of their satellite towns, exceed 10m. Of the 30 cities worldwide that match this definition, six are in China: Shanghai (23m), Beijing (19.5m), Chongqing (13m), Guangzhou (12m), Shenzhen (11m) and Tianjin (11m). A further ten Chinese cities contain 5m-10m people. At least one of these, Wuhan, will pass 10m within a decade.

China depends on its cities for economic growth and innovation. But it is failing to make the most of its largest conurbations. Medium-sized agglomerations of 1.5m-6.5m are outperforming bigger ones in terms of environmental protection, economic development, efficient use of resources and the provision of welfare, says McKinsey, a consultancy. Residents are beginning to question whether their quality of life, which for many has improved by leaps and bounds, will continue to do so. The giant cities are polluted, pricey and congested. Average travel speed in Beijing is half that in New York or Singapore.

Most of China’s cities share the legacy of a central-planning mindset in which all life and work was centred on a single “work unit”. Cities were “built as producer centres rather than consumer ones”, says Tom Miller, author of “China’s Urban Billion”. Their planning focus was on industry; not commerce, services or even community. The work units are gone but the tradition of dehumanising architecture persists. Most new developments are built on giant blocks 400-800 metres long.

China has swapped its socialist dream for an American-style one of cars and sprawling suburbs. The number of cars has increased more than tenfold in the past decade, to 64m. The combination of superblocks and car-lust often adds up to a giant jam. Large blocks mean fewer roads to disperse traffic. Guidelines require a main urban road every 500 metres and an eight-lane road every kilometre. In the case of Beijing, a ring and radial system was also created, with the aim of providing speedy road access in and out of town, bypassing city traffic and linking satellite towns. Not a bad idea, except that workplaces have remained concentrated in the centre. The expressways funnel traffic into gridlock.

The ill-defined ownership rights of farmers have encouraged the sprawl. Officials can expropriate rural land easily and at little cost. Doing so is far cheaper than redeveloping existing urban areas. Industrial land is heavily subsidised, so factories have remained in urban areas rather than move to cheaper sites on city outskirts. The amount of land classified as urban has more than doubled since 2000—40% of new urbanites became so when cities engulfed their villages.

Sprawl has resulted in populations becoming more thinly spread. China’s megacities are less dense than equivalents elsewhere in the world (see chart). Guangzhou could contain another 4m people if it was as packed as Seoul in South Korea; Shenzhen could be larger by 5m. Extending outward takes a toll: slow commutes from far-flung suburbs increase fuel consumption and cut productivity.

Massive spending on infrastructure has hugely improved connections within and between cities. Since 1992 China has spent 8.5% of its national income on infrastructure each year, far more than Europe and America (2.6%) or India (3.9%). Yet city residents still complain. Subways are often built as engineering projects, with stops at set distances, rather than where people want them to be, says Sean Chiao of Aecom, an infrastructure firm. Buses, metros and rail networks are poorly integrated because separate agencies manage them.

via Urbanisation: The great sprawl of China | The Economist.

04/12/2014

End of the road for Delhi’s old cars as India battles smog | Reuters

The National Green Tribunal has banned all vehicles older than 15 years from the streets of the capital, New Delhi, in a bid to clean up air that one prominent study this year found to be the world’s dirtiest.

Heavy traffic moves along a busy road during a power-cut at the traffic light junctions in New Delhi July 31, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

The ruling hits up to a third of the 8.4 million motorbikes, trucks, cars and auto-rickshaws that ply the traffic-choked roads of Delhi and its surrounding areas, transport officials estimate.

Cities across the world are ordering older vehicles off the road or restricting private car use to tackle growing air pollution. Mexico City introduced a ban on older vehicles driving on Saturdays this year, while in March, France briefly enforced the most drastic traffic curbs in 20 years.

“It is undisputed and in fact unquestionable that the air pollution of … Delhi is getting worse with each passing day,” the National Green Tribunal ruled in a judgment last week banning older vehicles from city streets.

Vehicular emissions are the cause of close to three-quarters of Delhi’s air pollution, the Delhi government estimates, and a World Health Organization study of 1,600 cities released in May found India’s capital had the world’s dirtiest air. India rejected the report.

The ban in Delhi lacks incentives to encourage drivers to trade in their older vehicles but eventually could boost sales for carmakers like Maruti Suzuki India and Tata Motors, as the capital accounts for 17 percent of India’s new car sales, said IHS automotive analyst Puneet Gupta.

via End of the road for Delhi’s old cars as India battles smog | Reuters.

13/08/2014

Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing cut coal consumption by 7 percent in the first half of 2014 as part of its efforts to tackle smog, the city’s environmental protection bureau said.

Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year

Beijing is at the front line of a “war on pollution” declared by the central government earlier this year in a bid to head off public unrest about the growing environmental costs of economic development.

The city has already started to close or relocate hundreds of factories and industrial plants.

The coal-fired power generators at Beijing’s Gaojing Thermal Power Plant are decommissioned on July 23. Provided to China Daily

It will also raise vehicle fuel standards and is mulling the introduction of a congestion charge.

To reduce coal consumption, it is in the process of shutting down all of its aging coal-fired power plants and replacing them with cleaner natural gas-fired capacity or with power delivered via the grid.

Based on last year’s coal consumption level of 19 million metric tons, the 7 percent cut would amount to around 1.33 million tons per year.

Beijing has said previously that it plans to reduce total coal use by 2.6 million tons in 2014, and aims to slash consumption to less than 10 million tons per year by 2017.

The Beijing environmental bureau said the city had cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 5.4 percent over the first six months of the year.

It also took 176,000 substandard vehicles off the road.

Previous data issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed that concentrations of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 stood at 91.6 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing in the first half of the year, down 11.2 percent year-on-year but still more than twice the recommended national limit of 35 mcg.

Much of the pollution that hits Beijing drifts in from the surrounding province of Hebei, a major industrial region that is home to seven of China’s 10 most polluted cities.

Under new plans to integrate Beijing with Hebei and the port city of Tianjin, the region will be treated as a “single entity” with unified industrial and emission standards.

Hebei said last week that it had cut coal consumption by 7.53 million tons in the first half of 2014, amounting to just over half of its target of 15 million tons for the year.

The province agreed last year to cut coal use by 40 million tons by 2017, and it is also planning to shed at least 60 million tons of excess steel capacity over the same period.

via Beijing cuts coal use by 7 percent in first half of year – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

27/06/2014

E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Nine industrial plants in east China’s Zhejiang Province have been fined and suspended after their emissions were blamed for a spate of nosebleeds in a nearby middle school, authorities said on Thursday.

From March to May, 18 students suffered nosebleeds in Huangjiabu Township Middle School in the city of Yuyao, school medical room records show.

He Dongfeng, father of a student at the school, said his son suffered a bleeding nose about three weeks ago, together with three or four of his classmates.

He reported a sour and metallic smell in the air near the school.

Huangjiabu Township High School is near Huangjiabu Township’s industrial zone, a 133-hectare area that is home to 31 plants, including nine metal finishing and six dyeing plants.

Zheng Qilong, deputy head of the township, said authorities could not deny, but also did not have any evidence of, a connection between industrial pollution and the students’ nosebleeds.

According to doctors, toxic air can cause bleeding from the nose if the density of particulate matter is high enough. Another possible reason is that long-term exposure to toxic air may damage the coagulation function of blood platelets, leading to nosebleeds.

Yang Sheng, an official with Huangjiabu’s environmental protection bureau, said based on complaints from teachers and students of the high school, environmental authorities have carried out plant inspections and fined and suspended nine of them.

via E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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