China: Activists seek total ivory ban


Do nothing – and African elephants will be functionally extinct within two decades….

From China Daily: Conservation organizations have called on the Chinese government to impose a total ban on the ivory trade in the country within the next two years, and with no expiration date or financial compensation for those who would lose business.

Xu Yang, a wildlife trade specialist at the World Wildlife Fund in China, said the majority of Chinese consumers would stop buying ivory products if the legal trade channel was shut down.

“It would also leave no room for speculators to operate if the ban on the ivory trade in China were permanent,” Xu said.

The WWF and TRAFFIC, an NGO that monitors the global wildlife trade, are compiling a feasibility report on banning the ivory trade in China, hoping that it will become a technical reference document for the Chinese government.

Zhou Fei, head of the China program at TRAFFIC, said the African elephant population had dropped from 3 to 5 million, to only 500,000 in recent years.

Activists seek total ivory ban in China

“If we don’t do anything, African elephants will be functionally extinct within two decades,” Zhou said.

At present, the trade and manufacture of registered ivory products is legal in China. In 2008, China got approval from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the body that regulates the international wildlife trade, to buy about 62 metric tons of ivory in a one-time sale from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Every year, about 5 tons of that ivory is released into the market.

However, a WWF China survey found that more than half of consumers don’t know how to distinguish between legal and illegal ivory products.

“Despite the fact that every legal ivory carving has an identity card, many consumers don’t know to ask for the card. These unclaimed cards can then be used for illegal ivory products,” Xu said.

“Besides, China has a growing middle-class, people who would like to purchase ivory as a symbol of social status. The limited amount of ivory put into the legal market will not satisfy this demand.”

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China aiming to tame weather


National plan considered to enhance coordination

Man can conquer nature, so goes an ancient Chinese saying that highlights human power.

From China Daily : In a move appearing to support that saying, China plans to boost its weather intervention through a national plan.

The plan, running from 2013 to 2020, will divide the country into six regions and set up an interprovincial mechanism for weather control, Yao Zhanyu, a senior researcher of the Weather Modification Center under the China Meteorological Administration, told China Daily.

Each region will build infrastructure and a command center for weather intervention, according to Yao.

Programs in northeastern, central and southeastern areas will be used mainly to guarantee the wheat harvest, and the northwestern program will be for environmental protection, Yao said.

He added that the southwestern program will focus on ensuring the operation of agriculture and hydropower, while the northern program will be concerned with guaranteeing water supplies.

China modifies weather mainly to increase rain or snow and prevent damaging weather such as hail, fog and rainstorms. Cloud seeding is the major weather modification activity in China.

According to Yao, the northeastern region — covering Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces and parts of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region — was selected as a pilot area to test the coordination system after the National Development and Reform Commission approved a feasibility report in May 2012.

The report said the project will invest nearly 1.1 billion yuan ($177 million) by 2014 to build a regional weather intervention system in northeastern China, including 12 weather intervention airplanes and ground-based facilities.

Yao said a feasibility report for the northwest started recently and the program is expected to be launched within one year if everything goes well.

The northwestern area, including Gansu province, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and parts of Inner Mongolia, is the main source of the sandstorms in spring and autumn.

To better meet agricultural demand and relieve disasters, China plans to increase annual precipitation by 60 billion metric tons and extend the coverage of artificial hail suppression to more than 540,000 square kilometers by 2020, according to the State Council.

“Cloud seeding to coax rain can relieve agricultural drought, reserve water for lakes, cool down high temperatures and ease pollution,” Yao said.

However, as cloud seeding is used on a massive scale, some critics have questioned whether there is an environmental impact as a result of manipulating the weather.

China commonly uses silver iodide, a hazardous substance and a toxic pollutant, for cloud seeding.

The country has used silver iodide to lessen the impact of periodic droughts since 1958.

But Lei Hengchi, a scientist specializing in weather intervention, said little impact would occur because the amount of chemicals in cloud seeding is too small compared with the size of the affected region.

Cloud-seeding aircraft use 200 grams to 300 grams of silver iodide during a flight. A rain-enhancement shell contains only 1 gram of silver iodide, while a rocket contains about 8 to 15 grams.

CHINA: Plan to ‘Go Green’ by 2015


From ENN

China is to fast-track expansion and investment in energy saving technologies in an attempt to tackle its worsening pollution problems.

China’s cabinet, the State Council, recently announced plans to make the energy saving sector a “pillar” of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion / $438 billion USD).

China’s massive economic growth has come at a major cost to its environment and even its environmental ministry has described the country’s environmental situation as “grim”.

Under the plan, environmental protection industries will receive funding from the government in an effort to stimulate technological innovation. The funding will cover a wide range of technologies that address air, water and soil pollution including energy saving products, waste disposal, electric vehicles and pollution monitoring.

Many analysts welcomed the plan and some were quoted in the Chinese media as saying that it will create opportunities for investors and will give direction to the industry.

“It’s good to see this and it’s an indication that development of environmental protection and energy saving industry is a priority, since it’s coming from the State Council,” said Alvin Lin, China Climate and Energy Policy Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing. The plan also includes policies, standards, pilot programmes, financing mechanisms and incentives, emissions and carbon trading said Lin.

However Lin believes that the plan is “vulnerable to being so broad as to be lacking focus and hard to implement.

“I think it could discuss more on the importance of implementing standards and policies in order to create the demand for the energy saving and environmental protection market, and the importance of accurate measurement and public reporting to ensure standards are met,” he said.

Ailun Yang, a senior associate with the World Resources Institute, said the initiative is “encouraging”. “It shows the ambition of the Chinese government to tackle its growing environmental problems while making the country the world’s biggest manufacturer of the environmental protection technologies.” She added however that more details need to be known before it is possible to assess the effectiveness of the new plan.

Tackling pollution has been a priority of the new administration under Xi Jinping, especially as pollution has become a major concern among Chinese citizens and is one of the main causes of social unrest. In an effort to tackle the problem, China has also committed to reducing its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels and is aiming to increase renewable energy to 15% of its total energy consumption.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, The Ecologist.

China forum fights desertification

Desert Desert2

From China Daily : UN, China explore ideas for better green development

The United Nations is seeking more cooperation with China to explore better models to fight desertification, according to the Kubuqi International Desert Forum 2013 that opened in theInner Mongolia autonomous region on Friday.

The two-day biennial forum is being held deep in the Kubuqi, the nation’s seventh-largest desert, covering an area of 18,600 square kilometers.

Mo Yan, a Nobel Prize in literature winner, takes part in a tree-planting event for renowned artists in theKubuqi Desert in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Friday. The Kubuqi International DesertForum brought the United Nations and China together to explore better models to fight desertification inthe country.SHEN SHI / FOR CHINA DAILY

The forum is co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Convention to

Combat Desertification secretariat, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State Forestry Administration and the Inner Mongolia regional government.

More than 300 business leaders, decision-makers and experts from home and overseas shared their views on combating desertification and exploiting business potential buried in the sands.

“We would like to enhance cooperation with other countries, explore new ideas and forms of combating desertification and new technologies and industries for ecological protection,”Premier Li Keqiang said in a congratulatory message.

“We will further promote the progress of ecological civilization during economic growth and

realize the green, sustainable development of human beings.”

Vice-Premier Wang Yang attended the opening ceremony and read the message from Li.

China has 26.3 million sq km of land threatened by desertification, composing 27 percent of thenation’s total land area, which affects 400 million people, Zhao Shucong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said in a speech at the opening ceremony.

The central government has allocated 1.4 billion yuan ($228 million) annually to combating

desertification in recent years. However, government-led campaigns no longer monopolize the war against the encroaching sands.

“We will fail if we focus only on business,” said Wang Wenbiao, chairman of the Elion Resources Group. “We will not succeed either if we focus only on improvement of livelihoods or

eco-systems. It is necessary to find a balance among different factors.”

The group has built a 200-km long and 20-km wide green belt in Kubuqi, focusing on a rangeof desert-related businesses.

The group said it has created more than 100,000 working opportunities since the early 1990s,including more than 5,000 people who grow trees. The average annual income of herdsmen

living in Kubuqi was less than 500 yuan in the early 1990s but now surpasses 30,000 yuan.

Local annual precipitation reached a peak of more than 420 mm in 2012, up from around 60mm a year before a large-scale anti-desertification campaign began in 1988. On average, less than five sandstorms occurred annually in Kubuqi in the past few years, a sharp drop from

more than 100 a year in the 1980s.

According to statistics from the United Nations, 600,000 to 700,000 sq km of land become desert around the world annually. A declaration from the Rio+20 UN Conference onSustainable Development in June 2012, aimed to make that number zero by the end of 2030.

“Deserts are the home of many of the poorest people on the Earth. The goal set in Rio is noteasy but can be achieved because the thriving scenes we see in Kubuqi give us confidence,”said Sha Zukang, secretary-general of the conference in Rio de Janeiro.

State Forestry Administration data show that China’s deserts expanded 3,400 sq km annually in the late 1990s, but have slowed to an expansion of around 1,700 sq km.

Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat

Desertification, was on his third visit to Kubuqi. The institution signed a five-year strategic cooperation plan withBeijing-based non-profit group the Elion Foundation during the forum to facilitate international efforts to combat desertification.

“It will be in vain if we copy and paste,” Gnacadja said. “Each model should be designed specifically for a certain place and the local people. All the business here is not suitable for Sub-Saharan Africa. But the commitment and hard work people in Kubuqi have made will

inspire nations around the world.”

Climate change? It’s HOT here, regardless…!

From China Daily : Owners of restaurants and online shops say they have seen rising demand for their delivery services because of the hot weather, as meteorologists forecast that a large swathe of China will continue to bake under the scorching sun this week.

The National Meteorological Center in Beijing forecast on Sunday that the heat wave will continue in cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Changsha, Wuhan and Chongqing for the next 10 days. Between Aug 1 and 5, the mercury may surge above 39 C in eastern China.


Deliveries up as mercury rises

An air raid shelter in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, is open to the public on Sunday to provide relief from the heat as temperatures soared above 40 C for the fifth day in a row. Li Zhong / for China Daily


In Shanghai, where more than 20 million people live, the temperature started to rise quickly on Sunday morning and peaked at 38.1 C at about 2 pm, forcing the regional meteorological authorities to issue an orange alert for heat in the morning.

“Because of a weakened subtropical anti-cyclone, the heat will slightly alleviate over the coming two or three days, and the mercury won’t go beyond 37 C,” Zhang Ruiyi, chief meteorologist at the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said on Sunday.

However, the heat will continue over the coming week — temperature highs expected to top 35 C — and even short rainstorms forecast for regional areas will not cool the city, she said.

“Some indexes have shown that this is the hottest July in Shanghai’s meteorological history,” she said. The mercury reached a record 40.6 C in the city’s Xujiahui Area on Friday.

To seek shelter from the heat, many residents stay in their air-conditioned homes or offices and order meals and supplies to be delivered. Restaurants and online stores have reported considerable growth in delivery services.

Ye Chengwei, owner of Original Natural Foods, an online retailer of organic foods in Hangzhou, said on Sunday that he has seen a rising demand for his shop’s products.

“Because of the hot weather, many people stay indoors and avoid going to markets or other places to shop,” he said.

Delivery services his shop provides become a top choice for many, and his most popular products are fresh vegetables and fruit, such as eggplants, cucumbers, watermelons and grapes.

“Most of our customers are parents in their 40s, making a 100 to 200 yuan ($16-$32) order each time,” Ye added.

The sales of cold dishes have outperformed hot meals at restaurants and there has been a rise in take-away meals.

“Because of the scorching weather, our delivery orders have grown by 20 to 30 percent these days,” said the owner of a restaurant located on Shanghai’s Wanping Road that specializes in cuisine from Northeast China.

“Part of our attraction is that we charge no fee for delivery services,” said the owner, who gave her name as Dong. “In the restaurant, customers prefer cold dishes, such as mung bean sheet noodles, that give a refreshing taste in the sweltering summer. We are short-handed at peak times and do not have enough time to handle delivery services then.”

On Tabao, one of China’s most popular online shopping sites, products that help relieve the heat are selling fast.

More than 100,000 people search for items such as bamboo sleeping mats, fans and mosquito nets on the website each day, according to Qi Xiaopei, who works for Taobao’s public relations department.

Compared to last July, this month has seen a significant increase in the sales of these items. “Sales increased by 1.7 times for bamboo sleeping mats, 2.5 times for fans and 50 percent for mosquito nets,” he said.

The website has also seen more business on its online lunch-ordering service, he said.

“The number of food and beverage orders rose by 50 percent during the hot days. Hangzhou and Shanghai are where most of the increase comes from. Milk tea and other beverages are most frequently ordered, with sales increasing more than 60 percent on the same period last year,” he said.

More than 50 restaurants have opened online ordering services every day on the website.

NAEE_UK believes the climate change discussion is imperative

China pushes environment forward


China incorporates the concept of ecological civilization into economic, political, cultural and social development…. Now the Government ‘just’ needs to take the country to do the same – incorporate ecology – in everyday actions! China Daily reports

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli on Friday met four foreign leaders who will attend the opening ceremony of the Eco-Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province.

During the meeting with Swiss President Ueli Maurer, Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Tongan Prime Minister Siale’ataonga Tu’ivakano and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Nivatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, Zhang said the Chinese government attaches great importance to the environment.

China incorporates the concept of ecological civilization into economic, political, cultural and social development, said the vice-premier.

He added that China hopes to use the forum to popularize the concept of ecological civilization,promote international cooperation, jointly work to fight climate change and push forward global sustainable development.

Dai Bingguo, former State councilor of China, said the nation should provide assistance to other developing countries in fighting threats from ecological crises while learning from other successful countries.

Ecological restoration efforts in China will improve rapidly in the coming years, Dai said at anews conference on Friday in Guiyang, ahead of the opening ceremony of the Eco-ForumGlobal Annual Conference on Saturday.

The Chinese government considers environmental protection a high priority, he said.

Nation pushes environment forward

While it learns how to cope with ecological degradation from developed countries, China will come up with its own environmental protection methods, he said.

Dai said it is necessary for China to further decrease itsconsumption of energy and increase energy efficiency.

He said energy conservation should be further promoted totake full advantage of energy resources.

Dai said ancient Chinese culture has always attached specialsignificance to nature and sustainable development.

But the responsibility of protecting the environment does notonly fall on the Chinese government, he said.

“It’s significant that every citizen cultivate awareness andundertake the obligation of resources conservation andenvironment protection, especially young people,” he said.

Many developed countries have achieved economic growth at the cost of the environment andnatural resources, he said, adding that countries only venture to clean up the environmentafter it becomes wealthy. He said China should try its best to learn from these lessons andavoid detours.

“We need to draw from the historical lessons and end development that sacrifices theenvironment and excessively consumes resources,” he said. “An economy that harms naturalresources will only deter progress in the long term and the key is to reach a balance betweennature and economic development.

“As the economy rapidly develops, it’s time we work on boosting our ecological environment ofour habitat with all our efforts.”

China’s environment ministry among world’s most ’embarrassing’


From the Guardian:  China‘s Ministry of Environmental Protection has been described by its own minister as being among the world’s “four major embarrassing departments”.

Yes China’s pollution is horrible; yes government is trying to act; no – it’s not insurmountable . How I know? I live here  

The comments by Zhou Shengxian are the latest admission by a member of the Chinese government that the country’s environmental problems are severe and that there is no quick fix. President Xi Jinping has previously admitted that pollution has become a major concern of Chinese people and promised to tackle the problem.

“I’ve heard that there are four major embarrassing departments in the world and that China’s ministry of environmental protection is one of them,” Zhou was quoted by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua as saying. He did not say what the other three departments in which countries were.

However Zhou defended his ministry saying that it is hampered by overlapping functions in government. “Our environmental work involves many departments. Many of the functions are overlapping,” added Zhou and said that water, land and carbon are managed by different departments.

Despite political statements and increasing public outcry in recent weeks Beijing’s 20 million residents were once again advised to stay indoors as air pollution levels reached hazardous levels more than 20 times higher than World Health Organisation recommendations.

new study has said that life expectancy is 5.5 years lower in northern China than the south of the country because of the high levels of air pollution. The “embarrassing” ministry however claims that the study is “unconvincing” because it is based on limited samples. An official with the ministry, Liu Zhiquan, told state media that while the pollutants emitted incoal burning include heavy metals, small particles and sulfur dioxide which can affect health, it is not known whether it can shorten human life.

But the “embarrassing” ministry does admit that China’s environmental situation is “grim”. In June it released the 2012 Environmental Conditions Report which gives an update on the country’s environment. It found that around a third of China’s major rivers are “polluted” or “seriously polluted” and that only 27 out of 113 key cities reached air quality standards last year.

The ministry has come in for criticism because of the lack of available information on a number of environmental issues. Soil pollution is believed to be a major problem across the country and scientists have warned that it could be a bigger problem than air and water pollution. However, the ministry refused to release results of a major national study on the scale of the problem on the basis that the full report is a state secret.

It is not just the ministry that has proven to be unpopular, in his comments, Environment Minister Zhou didn’t mention his own performance which has come in for criticism. Zhou held the same position in the previous administration and his reappointment was an unpopular decision given the little progress made under his tenure to improve China’s “grim” environmental situation. During the National People’s Congress in March when the new leadership’s ministerial appointments were announced, Zhou received the lowest number of votes of approval.