Archive for the Environmental protection Category

Study: PM2.5 kills like smoking [China Daily]

Posted in China, Environmental protection, Pollution on March 19, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Updated: 2015-02-05
By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

Premature deaths related to PM2.5 pollution in 31 major Chinese cities reached 257,000 in 2013, making it a major killer equivalent to smoking, according to a yearlong study released on Wednesday.

The study, conducted by Greenpeace, the environmental protection group, and Peking University’s School of Public Health, took each of the 31 major Chinese cities’ average PM2.5 concentration and applied a World Health Organization model to estimate health effects.

It focused mainly on four conditions, including lung cancer and stroke, which have been tied to exposure to the fine particulate matter.

The WHO model is authoritative, said Pan Xiaochuan, professor of public health at Peking University and one of the study’s authors.

The study said there were around 90 premature deaths for every 100,000 people from PM2.5 pollutants, which are airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate the lungs.

That means, for example, that in Beijing, pollution-related deaths would have exceeded 18,000 in 2013.

The rate was higher in heavily polluted cities like Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, and Jinan, Shandong province, the study said, adding that the number of deaths caused by PM2.5 pollution may equal those from smoking.

Some public health experts were skeptical of the claim, saying that because PM2.5 pollution affects human health over time, it may take a decade or two to quantify its effects accurately.

While they shared concerns about PM2.5 pollution’s adverse effects on human health, some took issue with the details of the study.

“The country has started to investigate the health effects, but it will take one or two decades to get results based on long-term tracking of some patients,” said Zhi Xiuyi, head of the Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Center of the Capital Medical University.

He said air pollution could exacerbate some diseases, such as those related to the lungs, and lead to delays in recovery, but it’s hard to say that PM2.5 pollution was the major factor in a death.

Moreover, some of the 31 used in the study did not release data on PM2.5 in 2013, he said, leading him question the results.

“I think that the results could be inflating the number of deaths related to PM2.5 pollution due to multiple factors,” Pan said, although he said it’s legitimate to seek understanding about the effects on human health…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/fightairpollution/2015-02/05/content_19502644.htm

Marxism key to problem solving: Xi [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Corruption, CPC, Deng Xiaoping, Economy, Employment, Environmental protection, Mao Zedong, Reform and opening up, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics on March 3, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(Global Times) January 26, 2015

~Ideology a theoretical tool to unite officials in time of change: analyst~

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent stress on dialectical materialism has brought about a resurgence of Marxist ideology as the theoretical foundation of the Communist Party of China (CPC) amid the nation’s deepening reform, said observers.

Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said Friday that all CPC members should value ideological work and promote “core socialist values” as he presided over a meeting attended by members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, reported the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

The president reiterated that China will remain at the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come. Through 30 years of reform and opening up, China has made breakthroughs in productivity, comprehensive national strength and people’s living standards, but the situation and challenges both domestically and abroad are changing.

“We should grasp new traits in new phases of development, and stipulate guidelines in accordance with reality,” Xi said, adding that ideology should be at the heart of the Party.

The meeting followed a previous session in 2013 when the bureau delivered a similar lecture on Marxist philosophy.

Dialectical materialism, a key tenet of Marxist philosophy along with historical materialism, is a philosophical approach that views all changes in the world as the result of conflicts between opposites.

The president said that dialectical materialism, a strand of Marxist philosophy, should provide CPC members with the right approach to problem solving as China continues on its path of reform and development…

…The CPC, founded in the early 1920s, has advocated Marxism and socialism with Chinese characteristics as an ideological guidance to strengthen and modernize China…

Excerpted; full article link: http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0126/c90785-8840860.html

Holiday fireworks lose their sparkle amid smog [China Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Environmental protection, Law enforcement, Qingdao on January 30, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2014-01-27
By Zheng Xin

Public enthusiasm for fireworks seems to be fizzling out in the face of concerns over air pollution, with many people posting online messages calling for restraint in celebrations during Spring Festival.

Posts are circulating on Chinese social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and WeChat, calling for people to scale back on the use of fireworks during the holiday, which runs from Jan 31 to Feb 6. Many have greeted the posts favorably.

“Fighting against sooty air is the responsibility of every resident,” said Peng Xiao, a 32-year-old resident in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. “You can’t blame the government for the air quality while making things worse yourself.”

Nor is it just air pollution, she said. Noise pollution is also a factor, as fireworks also set off car alarms.

However, others have pointed out that fireworks are an essential part of celebrating big events, like weddings and holidays…

…Setting off fireworks is an integral part of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, with the noise traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. However, with China suffering from heavy smog in recent years, the contribution of fireworks to air pollution has drawn widespread attention from the public and authorities.

A recent online survey on Sina Weibo showed that more than 60 percent of participants would be happy not to use fireworks during the holiday, while the remaining 40 percent were adamant that they will stick to the traditional methods of celebration.

Alternative ways to celebrate are being suggested.

The Beijing Consumer Association on Thursday urged residents to replace fireworks with flowers and electronic substitutes.

A statement issued by the association advised consumers to refrain from celebrations with fireworks and firecrackers or only use environmentally friendly products to avoid “rubbing salt into the wound” of the city’s already severe air pollution.

The city governments of Hefei, Qingdao, Shenzhen and many other cities have tried to persuade residents to give up fireworks during the holiday.

According to Beijing’s administration office for fireworks and firecrackers, the city has 515,000 boxes of fireworks in stock for this year’s festival, down from 710,000 boxes in 2013 and 810,000 in 2012. The number of retail outlets for firecrackers across the city has also been reduced by 13 percent.

Fireworks went on sale on Saturday (until Feb 14) but early indicators suggest that sales have been slow to take off.

“The public is not as enthusiastic as in the past because they are more aware of the importance of environmental protection and health,” said Song Yang, an official with the fireworks administration office.

A female seller in Chaoyang district surnamed Wang said that she was not sure she could sell all her merchandise…

…Fireworks are forbidden after Feb 14 this year within the fifth ring road, and violators will face a hefty fine, the city’s fireworks office said.

The office and the local public security bureau will also collect fireworks-related litter after the holiday to reduce hazards to the public.

Companies producing fireworks in the city have little reason to celebrate.

“We have reduced our inventories by 40 percent this year, and still we are not confident about the market,” said Wu Liyu, head of the Beijing Fireworks Co, a State-run company. “The market has shrunk significantly over the past few years.”

Pan Di, head of Panda Fireworks, one of the three major fireworks manufactures in the capital, said the company has some 250,000 boxes of fireworks in stock this year, a 20 percent reduction on last year.

The fireworks have even undergone modifications to make them more environmentally friendly.

“All the fireworks this year will have fewer paper scraps and emit less smoke, and 25 percent of them are free of sulfur and contain less heavy metal materials,” she said.

Another pollution-busting trend appears to be a preference for public firework displays rather than the use of fireworks by individuals and small groups.

“In the future, people might give up setting off fireworks themselves and resort to collective fireworks displays,” said Pan.

Feng Yongfeng, founder of the Green Beagles, a Beijing-based environmental protection NGO, said that despite the reduction of harmful materials, fireworks are still a polluting factor and a public nuisance.

“Fireworks, especially large ones, contain too much gunpowder and are too loud,” he said.

According to the city’s fireworks office, a ban on fireworks will be put into effect if the city issues “red” or “orange” air pollution alerts during the festival, signifying severe levels of air pollution.

The government will inform the public of the alerts through text messages and television and radio alerts.

Excerpted, full article link: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/2014-01/27/content_17259970.htm

Eight Chinese cities in Liaoning Province fined for air pollution [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Dalian, Energy, Environmental protection, Liaoning Province on December 18, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SHENYANG, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — Local governments in eight cities in northeast China’s Liaoning Province have been fined a total of 54.2 million yuan (8.9 million U.S. dollars) for air pollution, the provincial department of environment protection said Tuesday.

The fines, the first the provincial agency has imposed on lower-level governments, send a clear signal that the provincial government is becoming more serious about tackling air pollution.

The tough penalties come as severely polluted air has become a main source of complaints and frustration over health concerns among urban residents.

Choking smog attracted wide attention again last week as it blanketed 100 cities across more than half the country. Many rushed to buy face masks and air purifiers to ward it off, and primary and middle schools in the eastern city of Nanjing were even forced to close for two days.

According to a regulation which went into effect last year, the Liaoning provincial government evaluates 14 cities on indicators of PM10 (particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Shenyang, capital of Liaoning, was ordered to pay a fine of 34.6 million yuan. Seven other cities, including Dalian and Anshan, were fined 19.6 million yuan.

Zhu Jinghai, head of the provincial department of environment protection, said all the fines would be spent in the fight against severe air pollution.

Decades of breakneck economic growth, the coal-dominated energy mix and lax environmental law enforcement are blamed for the prominent pollution in Liaoning and other parts of China…

Full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-12/10/c_132956993.htm

Xinhua Insight: China’s desertification reversed through constant efforts [Xinhua]

Posted in Beijing, China, Environmental protection on August 15, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

KUBUQI, Inner Mongolia, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — After prolonged efforts, desertification in China has been initially reversed, with trees and grass springing up where deserts used to be.

“In the 1990s, the desertification area would increase nearly 3,500 square km every year. But after ten years of work, the situation has been overturned. About 1,500 square km of desert can be turned into greenery every year,” said Luo Bin, deputy director of the National Bureau to Combat Desertification under the State Forestry Administration, at the Kubuqi International Desert Forum, which is being held in the city of Ordos in north China’s Inner Monoglia Autonomous Region.

According to statistics released by the State Forestry Administration, China has 2.6 million square km of desert, accounting for 27 percent of the country’s total land area. The desert areas are scattered among 12 provincial-level regions in north China.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

In recent years, the central government has spent vast amounts of money to prevent desertification. In some areas, vegetation coverage has expanded by 20 percent over the last decade, said Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Administration.

In 2002, the government promulgated the world’s first law concerning desertification prevention and control. But desertification efforts have been ongoing since the 1950s, including one program in which trees were planted in 13 provincial-level regions in north China to prevent desertification.

Such projects have played an important role in improving the environment and eliminating poverty.

“In its next step, China plans to have about 200,000 square km of desertified land, or half of the country’s desert area that can be reversed, harnessed by 2020 and improve living standards for people living in the desert,” Luo added.

However, the biggest challenge will be to prevent sandstorms from hitting the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, Luo said, adding that 56 billion yuan (9.1 billion U.S. dollars) has already been spent on this endeavor in the past ten years and 84.4 billion yuan more will be spent in coming ten years…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2013-08/03/c_132599494.htm

19 industries in China to shed capacity [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Economy, Energy, Environmental protection on August 5, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By ZHENG YANGPENG (China Daily)
July 27, 2013

Move marks the government’s determination to cut overcapacity, reform economy

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has ordered the closure of many factories in 19 industries where overproduction has led to price-cutting wars, affirming its determination to push ahead with a painful makeover of the economy.

More than 1,400 companies in 19 industries in China were told to cut production capacity, according to a statement by the ministry on Thursday.

Cement, steelmaking, ferroalloys, electrolytic aluminum, copper smelting, chemical fiber and papermaking are among industries required to cut excess capacity. Papermaking and cement are the two industries that involved the largest number of companies in the latest campaign.

Local governments and companies were ordered to stop production by the end of September. The deadline for elimination was set for the end of this year, the ministry’s statement said.

Nineteen public companies were on the list. Shares in BBMG Corp, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Co and Shandong Chenming Paper Holdings Ltd slid more than 2 percent after they were cited on the list.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.51 percent to 2,010.85 on Friday. The SZSE Component Index dropped 0.65 percent to 7,843.36.

“This detailed list shows the government is serious in its efforts to restructure the economy and is prepared to tolerate the necessary pain,” Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc in Hong Kong, wrote in a note. “This reinforces our view that aggressive policy stimulus is unlikely in 2012 [sic] and that growth should trend down.”

More than 92 million metric tons of excess cement capacity and about 7 million tons of excess steel production capacity are expected to be wiped out under the government’s plan, Zhang said.

Several of the listed companies affected released announcements on Friday, declaring the shutting down of listed excess capacity had little effect on their business.

Xinxiang Bailu Chemical Fiber Co Ltd, one of the 19 public companies, said the shutting down of 20,000 tons of viscose capacity, as required by the ministry, had already been decided at an April meeting of the company. Revenue from the viscose capacity only accounted for 7 percent of the company’s income. Its share price gained 3.66 percent by the end of trading on Friday.

Shandong Chenming Paper Holdings Ltd said on Friday that among the 284,200 tons of pulp capacity that was ordered to be cut, 220,000 tons belonged to Wuhan Chenming, a subsidiary of the parent company. This capacity had been eliminated by the end of last year and the production line was being dismantled. Other outdated facilities had either been halted or sold to local companies.

Lin Jian, a metallurgy industry analyst with Zheshang Securities Co Ltd, said the shutting down of lead- and copper-smelting capacity was beneficial for these businesses.

“The shutdown will help to reverse the over-supply situation in these industries. From a medium- to long-term perspective, it will stabilize metal prices and improve the profitability of leading companies in these industries,” Lin said.

As much as 879,000 tons of lead smelting and 665,000 tons of copper smelting capacity were ordered to be cut, accounting for 19 percent and 11 percent of national capacity, respectively.

The ministry’s decision to eliminate excess capacity was accompanied by efforts to foster emerging industries that are considered to be promising in the future.

A ministry news conference on Wednesday said it will strive to boost the demand for information technology and support the battle to fight air pollution.

China aims to boost spending on the IT industry at a rate of more than 20 percent annually through 2013 to 2015, according to a State Council meeting on July 12.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90778/8343322.html

Expats reconsider living in Beijing over growing pollution [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Employment, Environmental protection, Expats in China, Malaysia, Pollution, Shanghai, Tourism on April 25, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)
April 18, 2013

The Makeevs are leaving Beijing this summer. It was a tough decision for the family to make. They’ve lived here for a decade and have grown attached to the capital’s ways, its oddities and its quirks.

But the air pollution, amid a number of concerns, finally became too much for the Russian couple after giving birth to a baby girl last September.

In their home near the East Fourth Ring Road across from Chaoyang Park, the couple stays at home as much as possible on heavily polluted days. Their air purifier runs around the clock, windows stay closed and masks are a must when they do go out.

“Beijing’s air got worse in the last year, and this winter was especially bad,” said Makeev, who runs an export business in Beijing.

The heavy smog that blanketed eastern parts of China for much of the winter triggered international attention to China’s air pollution issue, especially in the capital where some 200,000 expatriates reside.

The US embassy’s air quality index classified pollution levels as “beyond the index” several times in January. However, the official index put out by environmental authorities, which usually stands in contrast to the US embassy data, also showed in parts of Beijing that the pollution levels were too high to be read at monitoring stations.

– Staying away –

“We feel drowsy, we get headaches, we cough. We even noticed differences in the baby’s behavior, as she gets cranky and doesn’t sleep well,” Makeev said. He explained that in Russia, it’s common to spend at least two to three hours daily outside to let babies get fresh air.

Besides air pollution, Makeev also worries about food and water quality. The comfortable and cheap cocoon that lured many expats to Beijing is cracking. Rents are up, high prices are being charged for low-quality products and traffic is an ever-worsening chore, he said. The increasingly evident wealth gap is also making him uncomfortable.

In pursuit of better climate and business opportunities, the couple has decided to leave for Malaysia soon.

Makeev’s worries are shared among many in the expat community in Beijing, and the couple are not the only ones planning on leaving.

There were at least two high-profile cases of foreigners asking to be repatriated in January, when PM2.5 readings in Beijing climbed to over 800, said Max Price, a partner at Antal International China office, a global executive recruitment corporation. A PM2.5 reading over 500 is already considered serious pollution.

Price told the Global Times that a high-ranking lawyer and a senior technical professional working for two German automobile companies respectively insisted on being repatriated to their original countries and left.

“When I speak to my international colleagues, their first questions are never about how business is going or how I am doing personally. They always ask about the pollution,” he said. “It’s really something I never experienced before.”

When speaking to people as a recruiter, quality of life used to be the third question following the actual duties of the job and the salary, but now it has jumped to second on the list, Price said, adding that this mainly happens with people with families.

A lot of foreigners who are keen on staying in China are turning their attention toward second-tier or third-tier cities, as these have increased employment options and better air quality, said Price.

The recent H7N9 bird flu outbreak has also come to complicate matters.

“A lack of communication and a limited number of reports have made people fear the worse and compare it with the SARS outbreak 10 years ago,” he said, noting that these aspects are making Beijing and Shanghai less attractive than other Chinese cities to expats.

Although there is no official data on how many foreigners are leaving Beijing or tourists staying away for fear of the pollution, the Beijing municipal tourism data showed a slump of foreign visitors in February and March this year compared to 2012.

According to the statistics, Beijing saw 165,000 foreign visitors in February, 37 percent less than last year…

[Excerpted]

Full article link: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90782/8212002.html