China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, August 31, 2006

China fails to cut main pollutants -government

BEIJING, Aug 30 (Reuters) - China failed to rein in two main pollution indicators in the first half of the year as soaring energy use and lax environmental controls thwarted policies to clean foul water and skies, the government said on Wednesday. "Environmental protection and economic development are not proceeding in unison," the China Environment News, the official paper of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), wrote in an editorial. China has set a goal of cutting pollution output by 10 percent, adjusted for economic growth, over the next five years. But just last week, Chinese authorities said acid rain caused by sulphur dioxide affected a third of China's land mass last year, posing a threat to food safety. In the latest assessment, SEPA announced on its Web site ( that nationwide emissions of sulphur dioxide from coal-fired power stations grew to 12.7 million tonnes in the first six months -- up 4.2 percent on the same period last year. The official environmental monitor also said its key measure of water pollution -- "chemical oxygen demand" or COD -- rose 3.7 percent. COD gauges the noxiousness of wastewater. In the editorial, SEPA laid the blame for the rising pollution on poor enforcement and a "crude mode of economic growth". Many new power stations have equipment to strip sulphur from smoke, "but the level of use is not high", said the official announcement. Even when cities build wastewater treatment plants, some fail to expand pipe networks to collect wastewater from factories and buildings, it added. The official numbers came in the wake of repeated warnings by officials that China is failing to tame pollution even after promising a shift to clean development. A senior parliamentary official, Sheng Huaren, said discharge of sulphur dioxide rose by 27 percent between 2000 and 2005 to 25 million tonnes, making the country the world's top emitter of the pollutant. China's sulphur dioxide emissions were double the acceptable limit, he said.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Chemical pollution dispelled for drinking water source in Shaanxi

Related: Chemical spill threatens water supply for 100,000 residents in Shaanxi

    HANCHENG, Shaanxi, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The water
source area of Hancheng City in northwest China's Shaanxi Province,
which has been under a threat of chemical pollution, is now out of danger.

    A local government official said Sunday that the
Xuefeng Reservoir at the water source area would resume water supply for the
city soon.

    Around 9:00 p.m. Friday, a tank truck loaded with 25
tons of liquid caustic soda fell into an upstream river of the reservoir in
Hancheng partly due to slippery road caused by rains, the official said.

    One person in the truck was killed on the spot, and
another was seriously burned.

    The local government had a dam built at the site
where the truck fell, about five kilometers away from the reservoir, which is
the source of drinking water for about 100,000 residents.

    Meanwhile, at least 10 tons of acetic acid and
hydrochloric acid was transported from the provincial capital of Xi'an to
neutralize the caustic soda that remained inside the truck and flew into the

    According to local environmental protection
authorities, the neutralization process will not cause new pollution, and the pH
value of the water in the Xuefeng Reservoir is at a normal level.

    Ten spare wells have been put into use after the
chemical spill to ensure drinking water supply for residents in Hancheng

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

China ecological environment worsening

Updated: 2006-08-25 11:14

BEIJING -- China's ecological environment has deteriorated according to two major pollution indicators in the first half of the year, said an environmental protection official here Friday.

The amount of chemical oxygen demand (COD), used to estimate the amount of organic matter in waste water, rose 4.2 percent while discharges of sulfur dioxide (SO2) up 5.8 percent, said Yang Chaofei, an official with the State Environmental Protection Administration.

The government would impose a stricter system for environmental protection responsibility on officials who would be evaluated on their performance in enforcing protective measures, he said.

Forty percent of China's cities suffer from moderate or heavy air pollution after its rapid economic development over the past two decades.

Li Wenhua, head of China's ecological compensation mechanism and policy research team, said lawmaking was vital to environmental protection.

"The imperative task in China is to define through lawmaking the scope, subjects, methods, compensation standards and set up a transfer payment system favorable to ecological protection." he said.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

No threat of pollution to Amur - Ministry

MOSCOW. August 24 (Interfax) - China has informed Russia that a breakdown at a Chinese chemical plant poses no threat of pollution to either the Amur river or its tributary the Songhua, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

"According to official explanations by the Chinese side, there is no threat of chemical pollution either to the Amur or the Songhua," the ministry's press service said in a statement posted on its website.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Chemical spill under control

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-24 06:20

A chemical spill that contaminated the Mangniu River, a tributary of the Songhua River, which runs through the city of Jilin in Northeast China's Jilin Province, was brought under control yesterday.

The river has been polluted with xylidine, causing a 5-kilometre slick of bubbly, red water, said the city's environmental protection bureau.

And preliminary investigations have found the pollutants were illegally discharged by the Changbaishan Jingxi Chemical Co.

The people responsible for the pollution have been detained.

The city government declared the spill an emergency and officials from the State Environmental Protection Administration, the provincial government and the provincial environmental protection bureau rushed to the polluted sector to stem the spreading slick.

More than 1,000 soldiers and firefighters built a pollution interception dam and two dams with activated carbon to absorb the pollutants.

No pollutants have yet been detected in the Songhua River, according to the city's environmental protection bureau.

Officials with the Heilongjiang Provincial Environment Protection Bureau said they were in close contact with their Jilin counterparts and have strengthened surveillance of the stretches of the Songhua River which flow through the province.

The spill alarmed some residents of provincial capital Harbin, a city with a population of 3.8 million, with local shops flooded with desperate shoppers stocking up on bottled water, despite an assurance from local water supplier the Water Supply and Discharge Company, that tap water was not affected.

The company said the current water shortage in some parts of the city is due to a decline in water pressure as many residents turned on their taps, filling sinks and baths to store clean water.

"I heard the news from my colleague," said resident Xu Dajiang, 24, who carried a carton of bottled water on his shoulder. "Though I am suspicious of whether it's true, there's nothing wrong with being cautious and fully prepared."

Harbin was forced to cut its water supply for four days last November because of severe pollution in the Songhua River from a chemical plant blast in Jilin city.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

China to build earthquake warning system at Three Gorges Reservoir area

CHONGQING, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- A network of 21 digital earthquake monitoring stations is to be set up in the Chongqing section of the Three Gorges Reservoir area by the end of next year, a local earthquake official said on Tuesday.

    Costing 29.6 million yuan (3.7 million U.S. dollars), the stations would monitor seismological activity around the clock and provide an earthquake warning system for the local government, said Zhang Rong, head of the Earthquake Prevention Office of the Chongqing Municipal Seismological Bureau.

    Construction of the Three Gorges Project, the world's biggest hydro-electric project, began on the Yangtze River in 1993 and is expected to be completed in 2008, a year ahead of schedule. The huge reservoir began to fill in June 2003, with more than 220 counties inundated in Chongqing and Hubei Province on the river's upper and middle reaches.

    Geological disasters like landslides and mud-rock flows were common before the construction of the Three Gorges Project, sparking fears of possible calamities after water storage began.

    The government has invested more than 4 billion yuan (482 million U.S. dollars) in the prevention and control of geological disasters in the Three Gorges area.

    The stations would provide technical support for security of the Three Gorges Reservoir and prevent damage caused by earthquakes and other disasters, Zhang said.

    A geographical disaster database for the reservoir area had been established and advanced technologies like satellite remote sensing were being used to monitor the geological situation.

    The project, including the 2,309-meter-long, 185-meter-high dam with 26 generators, is expected to produce 84.7 billion kWh of electricity annually on completion. It is also expected to control flooding on the Yangtze, fuel industrial growth and improve shipping.

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Update: Three Gorges dam not responsible for drought - official

Beijing. August 18. INTERFAX-CHINA - The Three Gorges Dam project is not responsible for the drought in Sichuan Province and the neighboring municipality of Chongqing, Dong Wenjie, the director of the China Meteorological Administration's National Climate Center said in an interview with the state press.

18 mln people currently lack access to drinking water in the two southwestern Chinese regions.  Dependence on hydropower means that the area is also suffering from acute electricity shortages. 

The water flow into the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River is the lowest in 130 years at just 8,100 cu m per second, affecting power output at the Three Gorges hydropower project and its neighbor, the Gezhouba station. 

Officials at the facilities are working to maintain output, but a spokesman for Yangtze Power, the listed owner of Gezhouba as well as several generators at the Three Gorges Project, told Interfax that some generators have already stopped operations.  

The average runoff of the upper reaches in the Yangtze River has been 59.75% lower than the normal figure as a result of the drought, according to the China Power News.

The Sichuan power authorities have also released a "black alert" warning that that electricity supplies are now at a state of emergency.  They have imposed restrictions on major enterprises in the region, including the Chengdu Tobacco Group and Toyota, as well as a number of industrial parks. 

Electricity to the Sichuan Power Grid has fallen by more than a third compared to the same period of last year, according to China Power News.

The province has had to reduce the transmission of power to eastern provinces by 9 mln kWh a day, and have been forced to source additional electricity supplies from the Central China Power Grid.   

The state press has felt compelled to stress that all these problems have not been caused by the impoundment of the Three Gorges reservoir. 

High temperatures and a tropical high-pressure system are the cause of the drought, Dong told the People's Daily.  Areas south of the Yangtze River as far as Vietnam have been affected by high temperatures since July, which would be very difficult to blame on the Three Gorges, he said.

The bureau explained that recent typhoons had cut off precipitation from the south.  Meanwhile, sub-tropical high pressure was blocking cold air from the north.  The two factors isolated Sichuan and Chongqing and prevented rain from descending on the region.

Gao Yanghua, the director of the Chongqing Urban Meteorology Researching Center, also said that the Three Gorges project had little influence on the serious drought.

"It is mainly caused by the atmospheric circulation issue, together with global warming," Gao said.

He said that a cloud-seeding program would be launched at any time. "During these weeks we have created artificial rainfall several times," he said,  "but it can only alleviate the drought in some small regions for a short time."

The drought in western and central China is the worst in 50 years and had wrought RMB 11.74 bln (USD 1.47 bln) in damages and caused total crop failure on 311,300 hectares of land as of Thursday, Xinhua reported.

It has not rained in Chongqing for more than 70 days and recent temperatures have soared to 42 degrees Celsius. Fire engines have been used to transport drinking water to the most seriously affected areas.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beijing to hold World Water Congress and Exhibition

BEIJING, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The World Water Congress and Exhibition will be held in Beijing from Sept. 10 to 14, focusing on worldwide water issues, a Ministry of Construction senior official announced Tuesday.

    The congress will increase worldwide awareness of water shortages and other water issues, said Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing.

    Developed countries are encouraged to offer their expertise, advanced technologies and funds to developing countries that need help, he said.

    Nearly 3,000 water experts and scholars and government officials from various countries are expected to attend.

    The World Water Congress has been held for four times. The coming congress will be first in an Asian city.

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Water pollution study keeps innovation in mind

By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-21 05:30

China will invest billions of yuan in a study on water pollution, a sign that the country is facing up to its chronic water problems.

Currently 90 per cent of rivers running through cities are polluted, and more than 300 million rural residents have to drink unqualified water.

The study, the biggest of its kind in the country, will run for 15 years and will look into drinkable water security, environmental improvement of river basins and urban water pollution treatment.

"Scientific and technological breakthroughs in a key field such as water pollution control will help upgrade the scientific and technological level as a whole," said Zhou Shengxian, minister of State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). SEPA, the country's top environment watchdog, will lead the project.

The plan was released at the Environmental Science and Technology Conference held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday.

"Realization of the target of a 10 per cent reduction of pollution emissions in the next five years depends on scientific and technological progress," Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan said in a congratulatory letter to the conference. "Innovation of science and technology should be stressed in environmental protection."

The conference also saw the establishment of the country's largest environment think tank, which will merge the State Environmental Advisory Council and the Scientific and Technological Committee of SEPA, in total over 80 top environmental scientists.

"Currently scientific and technological development does not serve the nation's environmental protection cause well," Zhou said.

"Environment enforcement and policy-making lacks scientific support. Many important decisions have been made without full research. Some basic figures about the environment are missing due to a lack of key research projects."

The Ministry of Science and Technology will work closely with SEPA on environmental science and technology development, according to Vice-Minister Liu Yanhua.

Environmental destruction causes the country economic losses of about 5 per cent of its gross domestic products each year, according to Liu.

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China's Sustainable Future?

June 06, 2006 elizabeth donoff Via Ask designers and manufacturers working in China today—or just visiting, for that matter—what their overriding impression of the country is and they’ll tell you “construction.” China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants are experiencing an unprecedented economic and building growth. According to an October 2005 New York Times article, “China Builds Its Dreams, and Some Fear a Bubble,” Shanghai, a city that already boasts 4,000 skyscrapers (defined by the Chinese as a structure over 18 stories high), plans to build 1,000 more high-rise buildings by the end of this decade. The country is racing to create new housing and office space to make up for an absence of construction that occurred during China’s communist rule that began in 1949. It is not only the amount of new construction that is astonishing, but rather the pace. Development is on a scale beyond even the largest master plans familiar to most U.S. architects and designers. China’s current rate of new construction is akin to building multiple Manhattans by 2010. The upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing is helping to fuel this construction frenzy, along with the investment of foreign capital in the Chinese real estate market. This building boom will not come without a price. New construction requires materials and resources. China is currently the largest producer and consumer of steel, cement, and coal, and owing to its heavy reliance on the latter, the country is the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after the United States. The excessive demand on these resources has both short- and long-term effects: it drives prices up globally, depletes natural reserves, and otherwise stresses the environment. It is expected that 75 million farmers will move to cities over the next five years. This loss of farmland to make way for new cities, and the migration of rural residents to urban locations, is another critical problem that goes well beyond infrastructure issues: It speaks to a major shift in the social and cultural structure of the country, the loss of a local agrarian base, and the end of a way of life for a majority of China’s population. Further complicating this situation is the destruction of the historic fabric and architectural legacy of major cities like Beijing and Shanghai to make way for new high-rise towers. How China manages its growth will not only impact its internal economic, social, and political infrastructures, but the global community as well. MAKING CHOICES Embracing sustainability and green design is one way in which China is addressing its rapid growth and management of resources. It is also a method of communicating and promoting China as a “modern” forward-thinking country to an international audience. These issues of market growth and environmental sustainability equally impact the Chinese lighting industry. According to a paper presented at last year’s Right Light 6, a collaborative, not-for-profit conference organized by an international group of environmental agencies, the country’s move to privatization has introduced new manufacturing relationships, joint ventures, and foreign-owned companies to the Chinese economy. Italian lighting manufacturer Targetti is but one recent example. It opened its first Asian facility, an 86,000-square-foot factory with 150 employees, in June 2005, just outside the city of Guangzhou in an emerging manufacturing district in Guangdong Province. The new facility produces the Targetti collection for Asian consumers, and the company has developed a Mandarin catalog to support this business. Targetti has also established Heshan Targetti, a joint venture between the Italian parent company and Neo Neon, a leading Chinese LED manufacturer with over 15,000 employees. These types of manufacturing relationships have led to more rapid product development, and along with this growth, an understanding of a systematic approach in how resources are managed. “There is a reasonable understanding among government officials,” says Adam Hinge, managing director of Sustainable Energy Partnerships, a company specializing in energy-issue consulting, and one of the co-organizers of the May 2005 Right Light 6 conference, “that the economy can’t keep growing at this rate. A number of initiatives are underway to figure out how to create a green GNP, to not just create through depletion.” To this end, China has implemented several international programs for its lighting industry, such as the Green Lights project, which works toward improving the efficiency and quality of lighting products. The country is also stepping forward as a conference and venue host for the international community, with the hope that discussing these pressing issues on its own turf will initiate real change that much faster. CHINA GREEN LIGHTS One of the most significant projects afoot in the Chinese lighting industry is China Green Lights, a joint initiative of the Chinese government and the United Nations Development Program/Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF). The project’s purpose is three-fold: to improve the quality of efficient lighting products produced and sold in China, to stimulate demand for these lighting products both nationally and internationally, and to reduce lighting energy use in China by 10 percent by 2010. Planning for the program began in 1996, although it was not implemented until September 2001, and was just completed in December 2005. The final evaluation report states that the program’s four immediate aims—to increase the supply of high-quality lighting products; to create demand for energy-efficient lighting products by raising awareness and understanding among key categories of consumers; to provide sustainable financing options for efficient lighting and make quality lighting more affordable; and to evaluate and disseminate widely the project results achieved—were successfully met. During this approximate four-year span, the total lighting energy savings in China was 15.78 billion kW—the equivalent of $986 million in electricity cost savings. Estimated emissions related to lighting were reduced by 4.3 million tons of carbon. The summary encourages the Chinese government to find funding to continue the program, and prepare a detailed action plan for the remainder of 2006 and 2007. RIGHT LIGHT 6 For the first time in its 14-year history, the Right Light conferences program was held outside of Western Europe, in Shanghai. Leading experts presented over 100 papers discussing energy-efficient lighting technologies, applications, policies, and program design topics. The conference was held concurrently with one of China’s largest lighting fairs, the China Association for the Lighting Industry (CALI) annual exposition and trade show. The move across the continent was no surprise. As the agenda stated, “The change in venue recognizes the fact that Asia has taken on a leading position in driving the world lighting markets. Further, lighting energy use (and resulting emissions) is growing most rapidly in East Asia, so the conference is being held where the biggest impacts of energy-efficient lighting can be made.” Holding the conference in China also allowed energy-efficient lighting specialists to meet Chinese manufacturers, regulators, and policymakers. Today, China has the largest lighting industry in the world. In a presentation at Right Light 6 by Chen Yansheng, president of CALI, figures indicate that there are 5,000 lighting product manufacturers, and 1,000 light source manufacturers in China. At the close of 2004, China’s gross lighting exports of products neared $7 billion, with more than half being sent to the United States. Chinese manufacturers mainly produce ballasts, luminaires, and electrical accessories. In addition to the proliferation of compact fluorescents, metal halide is the second largest lamp type coming out of China. Given its abundant exportation, the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) featured heavily in the Right Light 6 conference, namely CFL standards for the United States, China, Australia, and Europe. CFL production in China increased by 26 percent from 1997 to 2003, making this sector and the code regulations attached to it of particular interest to the importing countries. Specifically, the sessions covered recent revisions and pending new changes to the U.S. DOE and EPA Energy Star Specifications for CFLs and fixtures; draft revisions to the European Union’s Green Light Regulations; draft proposals for the coordination of Chinese Certification and Efficient Lighting Initiative CFL standards; and draft proposals for the coordination of Australian and Chinese CFL standards. QUALITY CONTROL Despite Chinese manufacturers’ best efforts to enter the international market with their products, the world’s perceptions of Chinese quality is proving a major roadblock. Coupled with this concern is the prevalence of cheap imitations. With billions of dollars on the line, manufacturers are aggressively protecting their intellectual and design property, making many still wary of doing business in the Asian market. Efforts by both Chinese and international companies are now being made to change the negative perception of Chinese-produced products in the minds of international consumers. According to Mike Bauer, president and CEO of Super Vision International, who opened a Hong Kong office in 2003, U.S. and European architects and lighting designers want to know that they are specifying products from brand-name companies, and that the product is produced in a contracted facility with quality assurance. In fact, many of the global companies with production facilities in China, such as Philips and Osram, have separate factories for local and international production. This makes it easier to ensure and enforce quality beyond just marking products with a quality-inspection check. The irony, as Bauer relates, is that Chinese architects and lighting designers prefer to specify U.S. and European manufacturers for the same reasons their western peers do: perceptions of quality. No doubt China has a way to go, but efforts like Green Lights and Right Light 6 are a step in the right direction. An influx of western design firms, along with a new generation of internationally trained Chinese design professionals, accustomed to U.S. and European methods and returning to practice in China, will surely play a role in the country’s transformation and help facilitate the changes that are necessary. Technorati Tags: , ,

Five challenges to China's energy industry

People`s Daily UPDATED: 17:31, August 21, 2006

China's energy industry faces five challenges: a huge demand, an acute-shortage of liquid fuel, severe pollution, greenhouse emissions and increasing energy consumption in rural areas. China needs to adjust its energy policies as soon as possible and establish a definitive, comprehensive and strategic energy system. This was the opinion Ni Weidou from the Chinese Academy of Engineering expressed at the recent Inner Mongolian Economy and Development Forum.

Ni also said that China could not skip the development phase of medium-high energy consumption and heavy chemicals industry. The surge in the number of motor vehicles in China has caused a big shortage of crude oil in spite of the fact that China produces 170 million tons every year.

At present, 70 percent of China's energy comes directly from coal which produces harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Since the last decade of last century, China has produced about 3 billion tons of sulfur dioxide every year, and that figure continues to grow with time.

Energy consumption per capita in urban areas is 3.5 times that of rural areas. It is thought that China's rate of urbanization will be between 55 and 60 per cent in 2020, which means that rural areas will increase their energy consumption.

Ni emphasized the two unchangeable truths in China's energy crisis: the strong reliance on traditional energy resources like oil and coal and the fact that renewable energy resources cannot resolve any problems before 2020.

To maintain the status quo, China should consider the sustainable development of resources, energy and environment, while establishing a diverse and strategic energy-producing system.

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Corruption is linked to pollution in China

International Herald Tribune By David Lague International Herald Tribune MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2006 BEIJING China has blamed fraud in project approvals and failure to apply emission control measures for rising pollution, state media reported Monday, as the authorities grapple with the environmental impact of headlong economic growth. The director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Zhou Shengxian, said pollution increased in 17 provinces in the six months to June despite a government pledge to cut emissions by 2 percent this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported. China's senior environmental official also said a government investigation into pollution control approvals for construction projects worth more than $12.5 million had found violations in almost 40 percent of cases, according to the report. "It is clear the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection is coming to a head," Zhou was quoted as saying. "Fraud in project approval was prominent with many projects passing their environmental assessment without fulfilling the necessary criteria." The Chinese economy expanded 11.3 percent in the second quarter, its fastest pace in a decade according to official statistics, as factories continued to churn out goods for export and investment surged in fixed assets such as power plants, steel mills, roads, shopping malls and apartment buildings. Along with fears that the economy may be in danger of overheating, the authorities are clearly worried that widespread pollution poses a threat to long-term prosperity. Social stability could also be at risk as anger grows over the threat to public health from widespread industrial contamination and accidental discharges of chemicals and fuel. The authorities are also under pressure to clean up Beijing's notoriously polluted air before the city plays host at the 2008 Olympic Games. Zhou said local governments were responsible for controlling emissions and warned that officials failing to protect the environment would "pay the price," the Xinhua report said. Environmental experts agree that fraud and failure to enforce the law is a major contributor to rising pollution levels. "This is definitely a huge problem," said Wen Bo, China representative for the California-based environmental group, Pacific Environment. "Some of the less economically advanced regions in China have been actively working to attract investment from overseas and other parts of China. But, they don't have huge advantages except cheap labor and loose environmental standards." Sulfur dioxide emissions, mostly from burning coal, increased 5.8 percent in the first six months compared with the same period in 2005, the Xinhua report said. China, which burns more than two billion metric tons of coal a year to produce about 80 per cent of its electricity, leads the world in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain. Discharges of sulfur dioxide from power plants and industry increased by 27 percent in the five years to 2005 to reach 25.5 million metric tons according to official figures. Zhou said that in some counties, only 30 percent of projects had been checked for compliance with pollution controls before they were granted construction licenses, Xinhua reported. And, almost half of the companies, including those that passed environmental appraisals, failed to carry out required emission control measures. The Chinese authorities have recently announced a flurry of measures aimed at curbing pollution as evidence mounts that growth has come at the cost of widespread environmental degradation. While more than three decades of expansion has delivered prosperity to hundreds of millions of Chinese, the country now has some of the world's most polluted air, water and soil. China has 16 of the world's 20 cities with the most polluted air, according to the Worldwatch Institute, based in Washington. Pollution is also compounding the country's acute water shortage. According to reports in the official media, 90 percent of waterways that flow through China's cities and 75 percent of lakes are contaminated. Waste and emissions from industry and agricultural waste also threaten large tracts of farmland. On July 18, official media reported that the government planned to spend $175 billion on environmental protection over the next five years. The State Environmental Protection Administration announced last week that it would set tougher standards for industries that pollute, with regulations drawn up or updated to include up to 1,400 environmental protection criteria. The environmental watchdog also announced Friday that it would start the country's biggest environmental research project aimed at fighting water pollution. The government has set up two committees of experts, some from outside the bureaucracy, to advise policy makers on environmental protection. Some analysts speculate that China's environmental agencies, which are normally far less influential than the powerful economic and industrial ministries, have become more assertive as fears mount over the danger from economic overheating. "Maybe the environmental agencies see this as a particularly good moment to raise these issues," said Lu Yiyi, an associate fellow with Chatham House, a London-based international affairs institute, in an interview in Beijing. "I sense that the environmental agencies feel they don't have enough power and authority." Environmental experts believe that in most areas, China has ample laws and regulations to protect the environment compared with the best international standards. However, these laws are often poorly and erratically enforced. Even when the law is enforced to stop polluting industries and factories, environmental activists complain there are sometimes unintended benefits for those in breach. They note that in more developed coastal regions of China, factories are sometimes forced to shut down because they fail to meet emission standards. "They sell their old location to a real estate developer and relocate to a rural area where there is no adequate enforcement of environmental controls," said Wen of Pacific Environment. "There they can easily discharge their pollutants without proper treatment."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

China to invest billions of yuan in water pollution control project

(Xinhua) Updated: 2006-08-19 13:50 China is to launch a giant water pollution control project involving billions of yuan, said the environment watchdog on Friday. It will be the country's largest environment-related scientific research project in terms of investment, said Zhou Shengxian, head of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), at a national conference. The project will develop technologies to ensure drinking water security, limit environmental deterioration of river valleys, and control water pollution in cities, Zhou said. It is also expected to specify the impact of water pollution on economic and social development, he added. The lack of water resources has impeded China's sustainable development and also threatened people's subsistence. Statistics show that per capita water resources in China are only one third the world's average. Ninety percent of waterways that flow through China's cities and 75 percent of the country's lakes are polluted. More than 300 million of China's rural population are denied access to clean potable water. Experts predict that rapid economic and social development will further worsen the water supply situation in the next five years, making the control of water pollution a critical challenge for China

China Urban Forest Forum to Open in Hunan in Late Sept.

BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The third China Urban Forest Forum is scheduled to be held on Sept. 28, 2006 in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.

Yang Jiping, an official with the State Forestry Administration, announced this here Friday at a press conference.

The forum, aiming to push forward urban forestry construction, will invite mayors from over 100 Chinese cities, as well as scholars and experts to discuss urban sustainable development and the relationship between urban forest and overall competitiveness, Yang said.

The forum will be co-sponsored by the State Forestry Administration, the population, resource and environment committee under the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Hunan Provincial Government and the Economic Daily.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vice premier urges scientific innovation in environmental protection

    BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Environmental protection should rely more on innovation of scientific technologies to cut costs and improve efficiency, urged Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan on Friday.

    Zeng said the advancement of technology is vital to reducing emission of major pollutants by 10 percent in five years and successful scientific research should be put into practice more quickly.

    He asked for major breakthroughs in scientific innovation and the building of an environmental management system based on scientific criteria and high-end technologies by 2010.

    A more cost-effective and powerful science and technology support system with clear division of functions will be built by 2020 to promote the country's environmental protection, he said.

    A think tank composed of 86 experts and scholars was established at the conference to offer advice on the country's long-term environmental protection strategy.

    Earlier statistics show that China plans to invest 1.4 trillion yuan (175 billion U.S. dollars), more than 1.5 percent of the national GDP, in environmental protection between 2006 and 2010.

    Slow technological advances, however, have partly offset rising investment. For example, more than 90 percent of Chinese waterworks are still using outdated technologies developed at the beginning of the 20th century, which can handle only physical and microbial pollution but not chemical pollution.

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Chinese government denies leasing Russian forests

Shanghai. August 15. INTERFAX-CHINA - China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) has refuted reports that it has leased a million hectares of Russian forest in order to satisfy its growing demand for timber.

The spokesman for the SFA, Cao Qingyao, said at a press conference on Tuesday that although China and Russia, as neighboring countries, were cooperating on the development of forest resources and that timber was an important component of bilateral trade, the administration had not been formally invited to make such a bid.

Russia supplied 48.8% of China's timber product imports in 2005, according to China Customs.

China's shortage of timber has been particularly pronounced since 1998, when the state imposed nationwide restrictions on logging in order to reduce the threat of persistent flooding along the Yangtze River. The devastating floods in that year were partly attributed to the lack of forest coverage along the banks of the Yangtze's upper reaches.

China's imports of forest products have almost tripled between 1997 and 2005, according to a recent research report by the pressure group, Forest Trends, and the country has since been accused of exporting its problems overseas, encouraging illegal logging and unsustainable harvesting in Burma, far eastern Russia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

However, Cao Qingyao of the SFA told reporters at the press conference on Tuesday that there was no truth to the allegations that China was fostering illegal logging and timber smuggling in the rest of Asia, insisting that despite the rapid increase in wood imports over the last five years, there are legal procedures in place to prevent such abuse.

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Update: State Council criticizes illegal power construction in Inner Mongolia

By Terry Wang

In what is regarded as the latest salvo in the central government's battle against disobedient provincial officials, Premier Wen Jiabao criticized the Inner Mongolian government on Wednesday for allowing power plants to be constructed in violation of state guidelines.

A strongly worded message from a State Council meeting chaired by the Premier says that the local government "illegally approved land use, filed false reports and did not follow proper bidding procedures" during the rushed construction of the Xinfeng Power Station in the city of Xinzhen, according to state news agency Xinhua.

"It can be regarded as a sign indicating that the central government is even more determined to impose 'macroeconomic control'," Yao Wei, an analyst with the Shanghai-based Guotai Junan Securities told Interfax.

The government's "macroeconomic control" policies were introduced to try to curb overinvestment and unsustainable rates of economic growth, but they have become a symbol of Beijing's faltering power over regional governments.

With the central government worried about excessive regional rates of economic growth and eager to enforce its strict "macroeconomic control" measures on the provinces, the latest statement was aimed at making an example of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Xinhua said.

The State Council warned that anyone who disobeyed instructions relating to national "macroeconomic control" measures would be punished.

On July 8, 2005, an accident took place during the construction of the Xinfeng Power Plant, causing six deaths and eight injuries. Investigations by seven ministries and commissions found that the local authorities had acted beyond their remit when giving the project the go-ahead.

According to Xinhua, the project started construction in April 2004, and was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005.

However, at the end of May 2005, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued special orders to deal with projects that had been launched without state approval in Inner Mongolia. The Xinfeng power project was one of them.

"The accident, with six dead and eight injured, was far less serious compared with certain coalmine accidents," said Yao Wei. "However, the project constructors ignored instructions to stop by ministries and commissions and just carried on, which annoyed the government. Local government has gone too far this time."

Yao added that it was difficult to force local authorities to fall in line with state "macroeconomic control" measures because local governors were motivated to encourage as much investment as possible.

"They can get more tax revenues and satisfy energy demand at the same time," Yao said.

Officials with the regional and local NDRC were not willing to reveal who gave the go-ahead for the project, but they told Interfax that construction had been suspended since the central government investigation was launched last year.

One official said that the regional NDRC was not responsible for giving the approval.

The chairman and two vice chairmen of the Inner Mongolian regional government have been ordered to write self-criticisms, said Xinhua.

The Caijing (Finance) magazine said that the Inner Mongolia Power Group was actually the largest shareholder of the project, but the group, as a power grid operator, was not legally allowed to own power generation assets.

According to the State Council, power projects with total generation capacity of 8,600 MW have started construction in violation of regulations, creating a "very serious" problem. Technorati Tags: ,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

China draws line in sand to end pollution for good

By Chris Buckley
BEIJING, Aug 16 (Reuters) via Guardian- China will rigorously enforce limits on industrial pollution as it seeks to rein in rampant pollution and tame frenetic economic growth, the nation's top environment official said.
Zhou Shengxian, head of China's State Environmental Protection Administration, said government efforts to cut sulphur dioxide and other pollutants belching into China's hazy skies were failing, the China Environment News reported on Wednesday.
Breakneck economic expansion was instead overwhelming official goals to cut emissions and energy use, he said in a speech to officials on Tuesday.
"The central leadership is treating reductions in energy use and major pollutant emissions as two major hard targets -- red lines that can't be crossed," he was quoted as saying.
Zhou urged environmental officials to latch on to the ruling Communist Party leadership's determination to cool the economy in a fresh effort to cut pollution.
"The party central leadership and State Council are using reduction of major pollutants as an important means to promote coordinated, sustainable development," he said, referring to China's cabinet.
China has promised to clean its dirty skies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has made green development a key theme of his administration.
But Zhou said giddy investment in steel mills, cement plants, coal-fired power stations and other emissions-heavy industries was defeating pollution limits. He promised a campaign to vet planned projects, especially those with investment of 100 million yuan ($12.5 million) or more.
China has become the world's top emitter of acid rain-causing sulphur dioxide, with discharges rising 27 percent from 2000 to 2005, mostly from coal-burning power stations, SEPA officials said earlier this month.
Zhou said estimates from 17 Chinese provinces indicated that discharges grew another 5.8 percent last year.
"We must face up to the fact that in the first half of the year emissions of major pollutants nationwide didn't fall, but rose," Zhou said.
"Investment in some pollution-related industries accelerated," he added, noting investment in coal mining and processing grew 45.7 percent compared to the first half of last year.
But the government's determination to tame growth -- which hit 11.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the year-earlier period -- was an opportunity for environmental enforcers, Zhou said.
Wen has ordered local governments to establish accountability rules for implementing caps on sulphur dioxide and other pollutants, and demanded that local officials face inspections for pollution control, Zhou said.
"Implementing reduction goals for major pollutants is the key focus of our work in the second half of the year," he said, warning officials that they should not assume the government's five-year plan for reining in pollution gave them ample time. ($1=7.981 Yuan)

Inner Mongolia wants help in battling dust storms

BEIJING, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Inner Mongolia, source of a lot of the sand and dust that envelops large parts of China every spring, needs more help to fight the storms, a government official said on Wednesday. While lauding progress made to date, Mo Jiancheng, Inner Mongolia's propaganda chief, said more needed to be done to solve the problem, in which the northern region had invested more than 20 billion yuan ($2.51 billion) in the last six years.

"It needs to be said, even though I'm unwilling to, that we still need more attention to be paid, and need the state to keep providing proactive support," he told a news conference.

Sand storms earlier this year covered homes, streets and cars in brown dust and left the skies a murky yellow across much of northern China.

Desertification of the country's west and Mongolian steppes has made spring sand storms worse in recent years, reaching as far away as South Korea and Japan and turning rain and snow yellow.

Mo said part of the problem was that the government left dealing with the dust storm issue for too long.

"This is a historical problem," he said. "When I was growing up in Inner Mongolia there were more dust storms than now, but back then people thought nothing of them. They cared little for the quality of the weather and there were no pollution indices."

Inner Mongolia borders Mongolia and Russia to the north and occupies about 12 percent of China's land area.

Government officials have said they are sure control efforts mean dust storms will not bother the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but admit they will never totally find a solution as too much of the country -- about a third -- is covered by desert.

As well as planting trees in Inner Mongolia, the government has restricted grazing, the traditional livelihood of the some four million ethnic Mongolians who live in the region.

Exile groups accuse the government of using the environment as an excuse to further pressure the Mongolian community, who are now outnumbered by Han Chinese by about five to one in Inner Mongolia thanks to decades of internal migration.

"The forced eviction of ethnic Mongolians is really intended to complete the Chinese government's long-term goal of eliminating the ethnic Mongolian population and traditional culture," the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre says on its Web site (

Mo declined to answer questions about ethic tensions in Inner Mongolia when asked after the news conference, saying he "did not have time". ($1=7.981 Yuan)

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

China sets up standardized system for environmental protection

By People's Daily Online UPDATED: 16:56, August 15, 2006

According to the People's Daily on August 14, China established an important standardized system for environmental protection during the period of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2006). These include standards to regulate heat-engine plants, air pollution from the cement industry, water pollution from medical institutions and pollutants emitted by light cars. A total of 321 standards and policies were issued between 2001 and 2006 and to date China has altogether 886 standards.

Zhao Yingmin, director of Science & Technology Department at the State Environmental Protection Administration, said standards would be devised and amended where necessary, focusing in particular on those industries responsible for serious pollution, overproduction and high energy consumption.

Zhao predicts about 1,400 standards will be formulated and revised during the period of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Struggling Beijing should have new source of water by 2008 - official

Shanghai.  August 2.  INTERFAX-CHINA - The first phase of the ambitious South-North Water Diversion (SNWD) project will provide China's capital, Beijing, with a much-needed source of new water by the time the Olympic Games are held in the city in 2008, confirmed an official with the Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday.

Li Guoying, the chairman of the MWR's Yellow River Water Resources Commission, was speaking at a press conference held to introduce new regulations aimed at maintaining the water levels in the Yellow River, the faltering lifeline of nine northern Chinese provinces.  

He said that the transfer of water to Beijing by 2008 "should not be a problem", with construction already underway on the central branch of the SNWD project, which will connect the capital to the Yangtze tributary, the Han.

The controversial SNWD project was launched in 2002 in response to the severe and worsening water shortages of northern China.  The construction of three major routes connecting the Yangtze River with the Yellow River is expected to take as long as 50 years and cost RMB 500 bln (USD 62.5 bln).  If construction goes according to plan, it will eventually divert 44.8 bln cu m of water per year from the flood-prone south to the parched north. 

Global warming and desertification, as well as the construction of large-scale hydropower stations like the one at Sanmenxia in Henan Province, have left the Yellow River in a parlous state, but Li insisted that state efforts have brought about noticeable improvements.  After regularly failing to reach the eastern coast from the 1970s onwards, the Yellow River's current has remained unbroken for the past seven years, he said.

"The current of the Yellow River is still lower than the long-term average," Li Guoying told reporters, "but we have implemented measures guaranteeing the unbroken flow of the river, and we believe that this is a historical and very outstanding achievement in the management of large-scale rivers throughout the world."

US accuses China for its own air pollution

People`s Daily online
UPDATED: 13:35, August 02, 2006

Western countries especially the US media have always had some special favor to the topics on China and also frequently related any of these topics to the "China threat" theory whenever they can.

From July 28, a series of report have been rapidly circulated and followed up by the US media. The source for these reports is the same: an article entitled "China's growing pollution reaches U.S." published by Associated Press.

According to Associated Press, "China's pollution also regularly dirties the air in neighboring South Korea and Japan, but until recently researchers didn't think it had much effect on North America."

US media quoted the "evidence" from researchers. According to Steven Cliff, researcher for the air monitoring station of Mout Tamalpais State Park, California, the tiny, airborne particles Cliff gathers at an air monitoring station just north of San Francisco drifted over the ocean from coal-fired power plants, smelters, dust storms and diesel trucks in China and other Asian countries. Cliff has monitoring stations on Mount Tamalpais, Donner Summit near Lake Tahoe, and Mount Lassen in far Northern California. Those sites see little pollution from local sources, and the composition of the dust particles matches that of the Gobi Desert and other Asian sites, Cliff said.

About a third of the Asian pollution is dust, which is increasing due to drought and deforestation, Cliff said. The rest is composed of sulfur, soot and trace metals from the burning of coal, diesel and other fossil fuels.

US media has expressed their "concerns" by quoting researchers' words. Most air pollution in U.S. cities is generated locally, but that could change if citizens in China, India and other developing nations adopt American-style consumption patterns, said the article. If people there started driving cars and using electricity at the rate in the developed world, the amount of pollution will increase many, many times. They worry that as China consumes more fossil fuels to feed its energy-hungry economy, the U.S. could see a sharp increase in trans-Pacific pollution that could affect human health, worsen air quality and alter climate patterns. "We're going to see increased particulate pollution from the expansion of China for the foreseeable future", said Cliff.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even made an astonishing estimation: "on certain days nearly 25 percent of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China."

How did the air pollutants reach the US from China? American researchers explained that US scientists have recently found that Asian pollution is consistently transported across the Pacific on air currents. It can take anywhere from five days to two weeks for particles to cross the ocean.

However, some experts also pointed out that China and Los Angeles are nearly thousands of miles away from each other. How could these researchers identify that the so-called air pollutants are from Asian? In particular, they not only determined that the pollutants were from China but also "precisely" detected that 25% of them were from China. Its credibility is questionable.

Right after the Associated Press published the article, "Washington Post", "Houston Chronicle", "Los Angeles Daily News", ABC, and other media swarmed into the follow-up reports. Many reports established solid contacts with China's rise and economic development. Articles such as "China's exports cover all the necessities of American people" have even diverged from any professional issues which should aim to explore the nature of specialized topic. Its purpose is thought-provoking.

But the article published by the Associated Press admits before closing that China is taking action to reduce its energy use and air pollution. "There are tremendous opportunities for China to slow the amount of pollution it pumps in the air".

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New environment watchdogs freed from local government meddling

Source: Xinhua Via UPDATED: 07:58, August 01, 2006

China's national environmental watchdog is to set up 11 branches to independently monitor and investigate environmental issues free from local government interference.

The branches to come under direct control of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) include five environmental supervision centers in the cities of Nanjing to cover east China, Guangzhou (south), Xi'an (northwest), Chengdu (southwest) and Shenyang (northeast).

Another six branches will monitor nuclear and radiation security in Shanghai Municipality, Guangdong Province, Sichuan Province as well as China's north, northeast and northwest areas.

"They are directly led by SEPA and will not take instructions from local environmental protection departments," said an official with the administration.

The government has been planning a nationwide network for enforcement of environmental laws and regulations independent of local governments since the notorious Songhua River pollution incident.

Last November, a spill of nitrobenzene and other chemicals into the Songhua River forced Harbin, the biggest city in the northeast, to stop water supplies to 3.8 million people for five days.

Experts blame the frequent occurrence of environmental accidents on the inefficiency of local environmental departments, which are affiliated to their local governments, and their timidity in exposing pollution scandals involving local cadres.

The five environmental supervision centers will investigate serious pollution cases, help solve cross-regional environmental disputes and supervise law enforcement in national nature reserves, key scenic spots and forest parks.

The other six stations will carry out daily supervision of security and management at both civil and military nuclear facilities, and monitor emergency work in nuclear and radiation accidents, including terrorist attacks.

The 11 branches will be included in SEPA's 24-hour emergency response system.