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China Environmental News Alert

February 14, 2012 – February 22, 2012


Chinese Electric Car Pollution More Harmful to Humans Than Gas Cars: In China, an electric car revolution may have actually worsened air quality

Chicago Tribune (February 14, 2012)

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.


Urumqi to invest heavily to cut air pollution

Xinhua (February 15, 2012)

China’s northwestern city of Urumqi plans to invest 4.45 billion yuan this year to curb air pollution. The money will fund 16 projects which include a major overhaul of the city’s heating system — especially the demolition of 5,000 small coal-firing furnaces for winter heating — and improving air emission treatment for 30 big polluting factories, according to a proposed budget submitted for approval at the ongoing local congressional meeting.


Worsening air pollution costs China dearly: study

Reuters (February 15, 2012)

China’s worsening air pollution, after decades of unbridled economic growth, cost the country $112 billion in 2005 in lost economic productivity, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found. The figure, which also took into account people’s lost leisure time because of illness or death, was $22 billion in 1975. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, measured the harmful effects of two air pollutants: ozone and particulates, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


South Pole protection law to be introduced

Xinhua (February 16, 2012)

A regulation covering human activity in the Antarctic, to protect the fragile environment, is set to be introduced. Activities, including scientific research, tourism, exploration, fishing and transportation in the South Pole must get government approval, according to a draft regulation by the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration. The draft rule also bans nuclear and military activities as well as mineral mining. Any application must be accompanied with an assessment report of the possible environmental consequences and polluting the South Pole could result in hefty fines or travel bans to the region and any environmental damage must be corrected, if possible.


China, US join hands to tackle climate challenges

China Daily (February 16, 2012)

As part of the business delegation led by visiting Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, Yonker Environment Protection Institute (Yonker EPI) signed three memorandums of understanding (MOU) with US entities at Monday’s ceremony in Washington. The three US entities, Milwaukee Water Council, Hazen and Sawyer, and Ze-Gen, that signed MOUs with the Yonker EPI are US leading providers of services that resolve environmental issues not simply from an end treatment approach but from a sustainable approach.


Inner Mongolia halts 467 mining projects

China Daily (February 18, 2012)

Authorities in North China’s resource-rich Inner Mongolia autonomous region halted 467 illegal mining projects last year in a region-wide overhaul mainly aimed to ensure work safety and environmental friendliness of the mining sector. The regional land and resources bureau checked about 9,000 mining projects in the months-long overhaul, halting 467 illegal projects, ordering 887 mines to suspend operations and permanently shutting down 73 mines. In a bid to build “harmonious mines,” the government defused 100 disputes between local herders and mining companies last year while establishing an effective mechanism among the government, mines, and local residents to settle mining disputes through dialogue.


China plans faster growth in western regions

Xinhua (February 20, 2012)

The State Council said Monday that it has approved a plan aimed at accelerating development in the western regions through the end of 2015, a move to further narrow the country’s development gap among different areas. The development plan for western regions set development goals concerning economic growth, infrastructure construction, ecological environment, public service, and people’s living standards that are much higher than that of the economically-developed coastal and eastern regions.


Apple plans environmental audits of China suppliers

USA Today (February 20, 2012)

Apple has told prominent environmental activists in the U.S. and China that it will soon allow independent environmental reviews of at least two suppliers’ factories in China. The reviews come as Apple faces rising criticism about toxic pollution and factory injuries at overseas suppliers’ factories. Environmental examinations would be separate from an independent probe of working conditions at the Chinese factories of Apple suppliers including Foxconn Technology that began last week.


Measuring China’s pollution from space

The Guardian (February 20, 2012)

A team of researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities, along with Battelle Memorial Institute, recently used satellite readings to produce data on fine particulate concentrations in Chinese provinces. While these satellite measurements are not perfect, they provide the first estimates of ground-level annual average concentrations of the pollutant PM 2.5 for all of China over the last decade. Scientific instruments aboard the satellites assess Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) in order to measure PM 2.5.


Chinese manufacturer to open bear farm to quell criticism

China Daily (February 22, 2012)

A Chinese manufacturer of bear bile products said Tuesday that it will open one of its bear farms to the media Wednesday morning, a move aimed at quelling public criticism of its operations and planned initial public offering (IPO). Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, which makes medicine using bile extracted from live bears, has been attacked over the last couple of weeks for what animal rights activists have referred to as “brutal bile extraction.” Founded in 2000 and based in east China’s Fujian province, Guizhentang is among the country’s largest producers of bear bile products, according to the company’s website.


(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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