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China Environmental News Alert

October 10, 2011 – October 17, 2011

Production of Solar Panels in Jiangsu Resumes

Associated Press (October 12th, 2011)

Jinko Solar Holding Co. has restarted manufacturing solar panels after cleaning up toxic waste that killed much of Haining city’s fish in August. The company, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, said it has upgraded the factory’s environmental protections and alleged that heavy rain caused fluoride runoff to pollute a local river. Last month, hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the production of photovoltaic cells because of its heavy use of toxic chemicals. Jinko admitted fault, and agreed to halt production until the cleanup finished.

China Begins Testing for Gutter Oil

China Daily (October 14th, 2011)

The Chinese government has begun testing for four major indicators of “gutter oil” use in restaurants: cholesterol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), conductivity, and specific genes. Thus far, the tests do not appear to be able to distinguish between safe and unsafe oil. Popularly known as “gutter oil,” the illegal oil usually comes from gutter behind restaurants, but also includes low-quality oil from pork meat, oil already used several times to fry food, and fat from animal organs. Occasionally consuming gutter oil is believed to cause indigestion, insomnia, and liver discomfort in the short-term, and cancer in the long-term.

China Begins Inspection of Offshore Oil Drilling

Xinhua (October 11th, 2011)

The Chinese government has begun an investigation into the country’s offshore oil drilling and exploration to prevent oil future oil spills. The Ministry of Land and Resources, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the National Energy Administration, among other government agencies, will conduct the three-week inspection. During this period, six inspection teams will check oil drilling and exploration platforms, pipelines, floating production storage and offloading facilities, onshore terminals, docks and transport vessels affiliated with state-owned oil giants CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC, as well as foreign operators in the Bohai Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. The inspection comes in reaction to a spill caused by Conoco-Phillips that has polluted more than 5,500 square meters of the Bohai Bay since June.

China Shuts 13 Wal-Mart Stores Down, Arrests 2 Employees

USA Today (October 14th, 2011)

Thirteen Wal-Mart stores were shut down for two weeks in Chongqing after the retail stores were found to be selling regular pork as higher-priced organic meat. The American chain, which had previously been fined in China for overcharging on other items, has over 300 stores in more than 120 cities in the country. The severe reaction to Wal-Mart’s pork quality is telling of the Chongqing government’s routing out food safety problems. Chongqing’s Communist party secretary, Bo Xilai, has won acclaim for his efforts to clamp down on gangs, prostitution and other organized crime. Many believe the Wal-Mart closure is part of an effort to secure a top party position in Beijing in 2013.

China Slows Wind Power Growth

Wind Power Monthly (October 11th, 2011)

From 2007 to 2010, China’s wind power capacity increased by more than 100% annually; however in 2010, the country only increased its wind power capacity by 38%, representing a slowdown in growth. The slowdown in growth comes as the National Energy Bureau (NEB) has increased the standards for technology and access to the wind power grid. Additionally, wind projects with less than 50MW now must seek the approval of the NEB, as opposed to local government, which was the previous norm. Nonetheless, by 2015, China is expected to have 90 GW of installed capacity, in comparison to 45 GW in 2010.

China’s Oil Demand Growth Continues

Reuters (October 12th, 2011)

Oil demand growth in China will contribute to more than half of the world’s incremental demand for 2011. The major driver of oil demand growth is the country’s increasing vehicle fleet. Although demand growth will be lower than 2010’s 6% growth rate, China’s demand is expected to keep global oil prices higher than $94 a barrel. Energy analysts expect certain eastern provinces, such as Zhejiang and Shanghai, to experience brownouts and blackouts similar to 2004, when demand outstripped capacity. However, unlike in 2004, natural gas is expected to be able to meet the gap between demand and capacity.

China Expected to Boost Electric Vehicle Fleet by 2020

China Dialogue (October 11, 2011)

The business consultancy group Solidiance expects that electric vehicles will compose between 5% and 10% of China’s automobile fleet by 2020. Given that an expected 40 million vehicles will be on the road, this suggests that there will be 2 million to 4 million electric vehicles on the road. Some analysts, including Chinese manufacturer Geely, wonder if 5% electric vehicle penetration is possible given the lack of infrastructure in place for electric vehicles. However, a recent report published by Ernst and Young suggests that the Chinese market is very open to the possibility of electric vehicles, as 60% of Chinese consumers were open to the possibility of purchasing an electric vehicle in a recent poll. This figure was much higher than the next highest region, the European Union, where only 22% of consumers were willing to purchase an electric vehicle.

Electric Vehicles Not Expected to Contribute to CO2 Emission Reductions in China

The New York Times (October 10th, 2011)

China’s anticipated one million electric cars by 2015 are not expected to lead to major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions without a simultaneous shift away from coal use, according to a UN expert. Eighty per cent of China’s electricity comes from coal, which has high carbon emissions. Four out of the seven electric grid regions in China would lead to increased CO2 emissions if electric vehicles were used in place of conventional vehicles. Nonetheless, electric vehicles will reduce oil imports and smog in Chinese cities. To truly reduce CO2 emissions, China must simultaneously adopt electric vehicles and shift to low-carbon energy sources, such as wind and solar.

China Pursues Nuclear Energy in Spite of Fukushima

The New York Times (October 10th, 2011)

Despite other countries, including Germany and Switzerland, voting to phase out nuclear energy because of concerns about nuclear safety in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, China is forging ahead with its plan to expand nuclear energy. In the coming years, the Asian country plans to build more nuclear plants than the rest of the world combined. The increase in the number of plants will help the government accomplish its goal of boosting nuclear capacity from 10.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power in 2010 to 50GW in 2015. China currently derives only 1% of its energy from nuclear power. Brazil and India also plan to continue to build nuclear plants.

Malaysia to Develop Industrial Park and Green Technology in Guangxi Province

Borneo Post (October 16th, 2011)

Malaysia and China plan to develop an industrial park in Naning, China that focuses on sustainable development and low carbon lifestyles. The 6,000 acre mixed-use industrial park is expected to cost up to 300 billion RMB and take 20 years to complete. Water recycling will be a major component of the project, as the project’s managers expect to recycle wastewater for certain daily uses.

(CENA prepared by Christopher Page)

* The links and article summaries in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Natural Resources Defense Council.


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