Tag Archives: carbon

China tackles air pollution

Smog is seen over the city during haze weather in Tianjin, China, January 3, 2017. Picture taken January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Smog is seen over the city during haze weather in Tianjin, China, January 3, 2017. Picture taken January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer


January 7, 2017

People wearing masks dance at a square among heavy smog during a polluted day in Fuyang, Anhui province, China, January 3, 2017. China Daily/via REUTERS

People wearing masks dance at a square among heavy smog during a polluted day in Fuyang, Anhui province, China, January 3, 2017. China Daily/via REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China plans cuts in major sources of air pollution including sulphur dioxide and will promote more public transport in large cities, the government said, as the country’s north grapples with a lingering smog crisis.

The world’s second-largest economy will cut sulphur dioxide, a key contributor to air pollution produced by power plants and industry, by 15 percent by 2020, China’s State Council, the country’s cabinet, said in a five-year plan paper on January 5.

As well as capping industrial emissions, China would raise the share of public transport to 30 percent of total traffic in major cities by 2020 and promote cleaner, more efficient fuels, the new plan said.

China is in the third year of a “war on pollution” to tackle the legacy of more than three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has struggled to meet air quality standards or to prevent occurrences of the hazardous smog like the current episode.

An environment ministry spokesman said on Thursday that excessive resource use was “a bottleneck holding back China’s economic and social development”, and the situation remained grave.

RelatedHuman Rights: There’s an App for that, by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

An air quality monitor atop the United States Embassy in China  confirmed for the Chinese people what they instinctively knew:  their government lies to them. It has instigated a middle class protest that has the ruling Communist Party scurrying to respond on air pollution.

Smog has lingered over large parts of northern China for most of the last two weeks, caused by increased coal use for winter heating as well as “unfavorable weather conditions,” even though overall concentrations of small, unhealthy airborne particles known as PM2.5 fell 6 percent during 2016, according to environment ministry data.

The paper says emissions will be controlled through stricter emissions caps on large industries, adjusting China’s industrial structure and widening the range of companies required to curb pollution. Vehicle emissions will also be curtailed through tighter fuel standards.

The new 2016-2020 “energy saving and emissions cutting” plan also made commitments to boost recycling and shut energy-guzzling firms that fail to meet efficiency standards. It also vowed to use “market mechanisms” to fight waste and pollution.

In a separate announcement on Friday, the ministry said power generators and paper mills in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin would be part of a pilot “emissions permit” scheme to be set up in the region later this year.

The government said last November that the country would create a nationwide emissions permit system covering all major industrial sectors by 2020.

Eventually companies will have to buy permits to cover their excess emissions. China wants highly polluting sectors like thermal power and papermaking, as well as sectors suffering from overcapacity, to be covered by the end of 2017.

Copyright Reuters 2017

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


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Clam Rolls, Ocean Acidification — and Solutions

© Deborah Jones 2014

© Deborah Jones 2014

Oddly, the new column by Natural Security columnist Chris Wood brought to my mind a sign outside a university chemistry lab when, a lifetime ago, I was studying biology. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate,” it quipped. It’s a bit of goofy scientist humour — but reading Wood’s piece, I thought, he is part of the solution — because he clearly lays out the problems we face, and presents the solutions needed. The problems of preserving a livable earth are not trivial — but they are, in theory, solvable ones, argues Wood. An excerpt of his new column, Clam rolls:


© Bryan Bruchman

© Bryan Bruchman

Ever had a clam roll? I know, sounds like a straight line. But in the Canadian Maritimes a clam roll is a load of breaded, deep-fried clams in a hot-dog bun, usually with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise. Enjoy one, if you get the chance, because the lowly clam is the latest canary to show signs of expiring in our climate mine.

The excess carbon dioxide humanity is releasing into the atmosphere doesn’t all stay there. A great deal gets absorbed into the oceans, where it is making them observably more acidic. That is bad for all shellfish: acidy water corrodes their calcium carbonate shells (also a reason to enjoy oysters while you still can.) But biologists have now discovered that clams, which typically burrow into the mud at the bottom of the Bay of Fundy for protection from predators, are avoiding doing so — evidently sensing that the seafloor’s more acid condition will dissolve their shells. This dilemma — be eaten or dissolved by acid — helps explain a decline in clam populations.

At the other end of the scale, consider a document leaked from the United Nations’ Environment Program — the organization that produces those once-every-five-years global compendia of climate science — in the last few days. It confirms that the clams’ dilemma is being replicated around our planet, that we humans stand to lose much more than our regional cuisine, and that the singular reason for all of this is one we are well aware of: carbon. … log in first (subscription required*) and click here to read Clam Rolls.

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