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China Environmental News Alert

January 20, 2012 – February 01, 2012


Powering future development 

China Daily (January 20, 2012)

China is a big country with a low per capita income that requires a large amount of energy to support its ongoing industrialization and urbanization. With China’s growing addiction to foreign oil, as well as its increasing coal consumption, China has ample motivation to exploit new energy, in an effort to guarantee its energy security and to address environmental problems. Developing new energy technologies and new energy sources is a necessary choice for China. The government should take urbanization as an opportunity to promote energy conservation and introduce effective policies to support clean energy development. To do this requires a good understanding of China’s development constraints, which include energy scarcity, environmental pollution and climate change, energy security, and energy costs.


Court backs environment group

China Daily (January 20, 2012)

A pilot environmental court in Guizhou province ruled a local government must disclose information about a company accused of polluting, a verdict seen as a victory toward improving people’s right to know. The court supported the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) in asking for information from the local environmental protection bureau about a dairy producer accused of dumping polluted water. The ruling is the country’s first judgment in favor of a social group – a registered nonprofit organization – asking a government agency to disclose information on the environment. Current regulation bars grassroots groups and individuals from filing an environmental case on behalf of the public. Draft regulations proposed in December call for allowing social groups to be able to file cases related to environmental protection and food safety on behalf of the public.


Beijing begins measuring tiny air pollutants

Reuters (January 23, 2012)

Beijing began disclosing the amount of tiny pollution particles in the air on Saturday, in a move that could improve disclosure but alarm a public barely resigned to the capital’s choking smog. The new measurement of particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, or PM2.5, comes after growing attention to air quality in Beijing, one of the world’s most heavily polluted capitals, from Chinese as well as foreigners. The data will be collected from a monitoring station in the Chegongzhuang area of the second ring road, which encircles the center city.


China hits back at US wind turbine import investigation

The Guardian (January 23, 2012)

The Chinese government has hit back against a US investigation into exports of wind turbine towers, warning that the escalating trade spat runs counter to global efforts to curb carbon emissions and could damage clean-energy co-operation between the two countries. China’s Ministry of Commerce urged the US to stand by commitments made at the G20 to avoid introducing new protectionist measures. However, some critics maintain that the generous subsidies and preferential treatment the Chinese government offers many of its clean-tech firms amount to unfair competition. Chinese officials escalated the row last November by announcing they would launch their own investigation into the level of subsidy the US government has provided its domestic clean-energy firms.


ConocoPhillips to pay $158 million damages for oil spill

China Daily (January 26, 2012)

Energy giant ConocoPhillips said on Tuesday that it would pay 1 billion yuan ($158 million) to settle compensation claims arising from the oil leaks from its Penglai 19-3 oilfield in Bohai Bay in June 2011. ConocoPhillips and the CNOOC will also pay 100 million yuan and 250 million yuan to restore the marine, especially fishing, environment in the Bohai Bay and monitor the situation. The Hebei and Liaoning provincial governments will distribute the compensation among affected fishermen. Zhao Jingwei, a lawyer from Yingke Law Firm that represents 107 fishermen from Hebei who filed a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips China in December, said he is worried that the fishermen might not get proper compensation. Most of the fishermen are relatively isolated from the outside world and don’t even realize that they can seek damages.


China to further reduce paper use

China Daily (January 27, 2012)

China will promote recycling paper and reducing its use in order to save resources and protect the environment, according to the country’s new five-year plan for its paper industry. According to the plan, current paper product standards should be revised to encourage the production of energy-saving and emission-reducing paper, and promote the substitution of paper packaging for alternatives. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper and paperboard products. The country has made plans to eliminate at least 10 million tonnes of outdated papermaking capacity before 2015 by encouraging corporate mergers and acquisitions.


Converting food waste is not a rubbish idea

China Daily (January 30, 2012)

As Beijing continues to expand, so does its volume of waste. The city’s 20 million residents generate 11,000 tons of cooking waste every day. Some companies are working on technologies to generate electricity with rubbish. Others plan to turn food scraps into fertilizer or animal feed. Beijing Goldenway Bio-Tech operates about 10 facilities that convert food waste into fertilizer soil and, when put into full operation, one factory could deal with 400 tons of waste a day. The company collects the garbage in urban areas, processes it, makes it into organic fertilizers and sells them to the rural areas. Goldenway now collects mainly from companies assigned by the government. It hasn’t yet tapped into individual families, a main source of cooking waste.


Green guard cleanses water trawling for oil

China Daily (January 30, 2012)

A fisherman by trade, Zhang Jianshe has been collecting waste diesel from boats on Dongting Lake in Hunan province since 2003, a practice that has prevented thousands of gallons of oil from being dumped into the water. According to Zhang’s estimates, a vessel with a deadweight of 50 tons can generate 50 kilograms of waste diesel every year, which would then be thrown into the water. Zhang found a company in Nanjing that was recycling waste oil and he spent a month with them learning their techniques. Returning home, he successfully applied to authorities for permission to recycle waste oil on Dongting Lake during the off-season. Records show Zhang has collected roughly 1,000 tons of waste oil, about 100 tons a year on average. His work has also been recognized by authorities, such as the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which in 2007 named him one of the “10 Green Guards of China”.


‘River pigs’ rarer than pandas

China Daily (January 30, 2012)

Fishermen, scientists and green campaigners have joined forces to prevent the rare Yangtze finless porpoise from disappearing from Dongting Lake in Central China. Since April, He Daming and another 10 friends have been patrolling the lake, hoping to protect the animal from illegal fishing techniques, such as electrofishing. Yet, fishermen alone cannot solve the problem. Studies show that the porpoises, which are found only in the Yangtze River and Poyang and Dongting lakes, have also been affected by pollution, busy water traffic, extreme weather conditions (mainly droughts) and the construction of hydropower projects.


Two provinces partner up in river protection

China Daily (January 31, 2012)

Anhui and Zhejiang have launched an ecological compensation initiative that is the first water protection program jointly begun by these provinces. The neighboring provinces launched a trial project on Sunday that monitors the water quality of the Xin’an River. Huangshan and other places in Anhui hesitated to accept new industries in order to protect the environment along the Xin’an River, paying a heavy price in terms of slow development with delayed industrialization and urbanization. The mutual compensation mechanism will not only ensure water quality for the lower regions, but also ease the funding scarcity of the upper province and alleviate the contradiction between economic and social development and environmental protection.


Government raises record funds to save water

China Daily (January 31, 2012)

China will continue to increase its investment in water conservation infrastructure to ensure grain security, protect water resources, promote the well-being of people and mitigate damage from disasters. Chen Lei, minister of water resources, said China invested a record high 345.2 billion yuan ($54.5 billion) in water conservation in 2011. The investment has been primarily used to supply safe drinking water to about 64 million rural residents, reinforce more than 400 key irrigation zones in the country’s breadbasket, clean up 46,000 hazardous small reservoirs, harness some 1,000 local rivers and initiate early warning systems for torrential floods and subsequent landslides in 1,100 counties. Chen said the country will continue increasing its investment in water conservation projects this year, and new measures will be adopted to allow local governments to raise funds.


Chinese cadmium spill won’t halt tap water supply, Xinhua says

Bloomberg (February 1, 2012)

A toxic cadmium spill in Guangxi province that contaminated a tributary of the Pearl River won’t cause cuts in tap water supplies to Liuzhou city or other downstream areas, according to a local official. Two weeks of cleanup have contained the spill, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late yesterday, citing Feng Zhennian, an official with the regional environmental protection department. Chinese workers have dumped chemicals to contain the cadmium spill, detected January 15th upstream of the city of Hechi, which killed fish and prompted panic buying of bottled water.



(CENA prepared by Christina Whang)


* 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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