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China Environmental News Alert

February 8 – February 15

Reports: China Environmental Crises, Costs Rising

Claims Journal (February 8, 2012)

Environmental accidents are on the rise in China, mainly due to chemicals industry-related traffic and industrial mishaps, and the costs of such damage to the economy are rising. China handled 542 environmental accidents in 2011, the newspaper China Daily reported, citing statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and ministry officials. The report gave no comparative figures, but the number appears a steep increase from 135 such accidents in 2008, 171 in 2009 and 156 in 2010, according to the website of the ministry-affiliated newspaper China Environment News.

Electric Vehicles: an anticipated hit in China

Eco-Business  (February 9, 2012)

The TÜV Rheinland Global Electric-Vehicle (EV) Survey 2011 suggests that a majority of car owners in China would choose to purchase an EV in the next five years. The survey confirmed that Chinese drivers commute mainly in cities and most driving is short- or mid-distance. The report found that most of the Chinese respondents drive fewer than 100 miles per day. This makes driving an EV viable because the battery needs to re-charge after a certain distance and this is likely to be satisfied. 40% of those interviewed in China said that they would like to buy an EV because of environmental protection. Access to charging points and battery safety are the greatest concerns for buyers.

City Plans to Boost Air Quality in Stages

China Daily (February 10, 2012)

Reducing fine particle pollution is the Beijing municipal government’s top priority for 2012, ahead of housing, health, and education, according to a local government report. According to the environmental protection bureau, the average reading of PM 2.5 was between 70 micrograms and 80 micrograms per cubic meter in 2010. The city aims to cut the concentration down to 60 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015 and 50 micrograms in 2020. The city will have 30 PM 2.5 air monitoring stations installed throughout the city’s 16 districts by the end of this year, and six of them will be set up in the near future.

City Reins in Emissions from Large Cargo Trucks

China Daily (February 10, 2012)

As part of the municipality’s push to further reduce pollutants in the air, Beijing’s traffic authority has launched a campaign targeting large trucks that fail to meet gas emissions standards. Cargo trucks are to blame for 33 percent of nitric oxide emissions in the city and account for a majority of fine particle emission by vehicles, officials from the Beijing traffic management bureau said on February 9. Starting that day, the authority began stepping up gas emission checks of cargo trucks at checkpoints and onramps outside Beijing, and trucks that fail to meet the standard will not be given access to the city.

Study Sheds Light on Solar PV Trade Flows, US-China Manufacturing

CleanTechnica (February 12, 2012)

Research and analysis of solar PV manufacturing costs and international trade flows shows that Chinese silicon solar PV manufacturers have only a slight cost advantage on their US counterparts, and that excludes transportation costs, the effect of inflation rate differentials, and other factors. Furthermore, the extraordinary rise in Chinese exports of silicon solar PV cells and panels to the US could only be sustained with the support of massive government subsidies, according to a US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) presentation. The study has been welcomed by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which previously launched an enquiry against alleged anti-competitive practices by Chinese solar companies.

Chinese Electric Car Pollution More Harmful to Humans Than Gas Cars

US News and World Report (February 13, 2012)

It’s a line that the American public has been hearing for a while – switch to an electric car and save the environment. But in China, where there are more than 100 million electrically-powered scooters and cars, alternatively-powered vehicles may be worse for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a report released Monday by a team from the University of Tennessee. The problem in China comes from the way most electricity is generated – more than 75 percent of power in China is generated by coal. So, rather than look at vehicle-emissions alone, where electric cars easily beat gas– and diesel-powered cars, the researchers studied the environmental impact of the whole power chain.

Apple Asks Outside Group to Inspect Factories

The New York Times (February 13, 2012)

Responding to a growing outcry over conditions at its overseas factories, Apple said Monday that the Washington-based Fair Labor Association had begun to audit working conditions at the plants where the bulk of iPhones, iPads and other Apple products are built, and that the group would make its findings public. The first inspections, Apple said, were conducted on Monday at a factory in Shenzhen, China, known as Foxconn City, one of the largest plants in China. Apple said the auditors would be given “unrestricted access” to the company’s suppliers.

Fresh Approach to Hong Kong’s Air

Chinadialogue (February 13, 2012)

Bleak new statistics on pollution in Hong Kong show efforts have not been successful in attacking the most serious threats to public health. On January 2, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) announced that, in 2011, roadside air pollution exceeded its current targets a record-breaking 20% of the time, compared to just 2% in 2005. That same day, Hong Kong-based NGO Clean Air Network released a review of air quality in 2011 that ranked Hong Kong’s nitrogen dioxide levels 31st out of 32 major cities in China. However, Hong Kong’s EPD is working toward reducing roadside pollutant concentrations by proposing a switch to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for light buses and taxis along with on-road monitoring of LPG and petrol vehicles against a newly-established standard.

China’s Clean Coal Game

Resource Investing News (February 13, 2012)

As the world’s largest coal consumer, China is striving to balance its growing energy demand with its environmental priorities. Through recent expansion of clean coal technologies, China is becoming a testing ground for large-scale clean coal facilities. While technological fixes will be a big component of the transition to cleaner forms of coal, more immediate actions involve blending higher quality imported coals to reduce particulates and emissions.

China’s Pollution Costs $112B in Annual Health Care

USA Today (February 14, 2012)

China’s unprecedented growth is carrying a steadily steeper price tag as its air pollution hikes the nation’s health care costs, finds a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although China has made substantial progress in reducing its air pollution, MIT researchers say its economic impact has jumped from $22 billion in 1975 to $112 billion in 2005. The costs result from both lost labor and the increased need for health care because ozone and particulates in the air can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

(CENA prepared by Craig Spencer)

* 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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