CHINA : Draft regulation raises fines for polluters

airpollution

Editor’s note: In Beijing‘s five-year air pollution control plan unveiled in September, the city said it aims to cut air pollution by a quarter by the end of 2017 (based on 2012 levels). The government plans to inject 200 billion yuan to 300 billion yuan to support different measures to fulfill its targets, including stronger punishments for violations, a congestion tax, promoting clean energy, improving public transport and curbing companies that pollute the air. Source : China Daily 

Violators of Beijing’s air pollution rule may see penalties above 1 million yuan

Beijing is weighing whether to remove its upper limit on fines for violating air pollution regulations next year.

The Beijing government released its second draft of the regulation on Sept 25, scrapping the 1-million-yuan ($163,396) limit and adding five categories of illegal behavior to a list of those for which fines will be doubled.

If the draft is approved, it means that certain actions, such as barbecuing food out in the open and discharging more vehicle exhaust than allowed, may result in heavier fines than currently applied, while serious breaches of regulations may exceed the current 1-million-yuan upper limit.

The new regulation is expected to be implemented in early 2014.

Many polluters have found that obeying pollution regulations is more costly than paying the fines, and the new regulation is an attempt to correct this situation, said Wang Delin, vice-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Beijing People’s Congress.

Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said that any increases in penalties should be harsher on businesses and more tolerant of individuals.

“It is laudable that the fines have generally become tougher in the second draft of the regulation, but I don’t agree with the item stating that polluting enterprises that fail to relocate or shut down as required will not be subject to a doubled fine,” Chai said.

The number of clauses in the second draft now stands at 130, while the original issued in July had just 96.

 

Public feedback channels set up

Beijing authorities are soliciting suggestions from the public as the capital unveiled a five-year plan to improve air quality.

According to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, suggestions about air pollution measures and sustainable lifestyles have been submitted since mid-September.

People can comment through several channels:

• Bjee.org.cn, the website of the Beijing Public Net for Environmental Protection

• Micro-bloggers can follow and send messages to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service

• Mobile users can follow the Beijing Public Net for Environmental Protection on WeChat, a popular mobile chatting application in China. The QR code for the WeChat account is available on bjee.org.cn

• Suggestions can be e-mailed to jyxc201309@126.com, with the subject line marked “Suggestions for Beautiful Beijing”

• A hotline, 12369, has been set up for complaints and questions about environmental issues

• Letters can be sent to the environmental protection communication center: No 67, Suzhoujie, Haidian district, Beijjing 100089. Envelopes should be marked “Suggestions for Beautiful Beijing”

The authority plans to hold more events in the capital, calling for public participation to improve air quality, including a photography contest. The deadline for submissions is Nov 20.

— Jin Haixing

 

In the first draft, fines would be doubled for those violating a regulation more than twice, with an upper limit of 1 million yuan. Eight exceptions were given to this rule.

The new draft, however, has reduced from eight to three the number of circumstances in which a doubled fine can be avoided, while canceling the upper limit.

In other words, illegally barbecuing food in the open air or dismantling the pollution control devices on motor vehicles without permission may result in doubled fines with no upper limits.

“It is encouraging that open air barbecuing may face much higher fines than the previous upper limit of 20,000 yuan, because such acts greatly affect the air quality nearby,” said 28-year-old Wang Yichen, a resident of the capital.

Wang said there are at least 10 restaurants in a street about 500 meters away from her home on the third floor of a residential building. All of them offer open-air barbecue food in the summer.

“The smoke coming from that street chokes my family so much that we never open our windows at night in summer time,” she said.

Rights and responsibilities

Another highlight in the second draft is a section dedicated to the responsibilities of the government, polluting enterprises and the public, and also the environmental rights of the public.

According to the draft, the public has the right to acquire information about air quality, and to take part in the monitoring and protection of the ambient air.

Residents can ask for information and data on pollution emergencies, the control of exhaust emissions, punishments handed down to local enterprises and so on, from all levels of the capital’s government bodies.

Residents may report polluting behavior to relevant government bodies. Those affected by pollutants may ask the polluters to abide by their responsibilities, eliminate the hazards and compensate for any damage caused. They may even institute legal proceedings through the courts if needed.

“This is a breakthrough because it’s the first time the public’s detailed environmental rights have been officially mentioned,” said Ma Yong, director of the supervision and litigation department at the environmental legal service center of the All-China Environmental Federation, an environmental NGO supervised by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

However, experts on environmental laws and regulations who participated in the creating the draft pointed out that there remains some uncertainty as to how these rights will be exercised in reality.

During the discussion of the draft, some experts suggested that penalties should be calculated on the basis of the number of days on which an infringement occurred, rather than the number of times that a rule was broken. However, this suggestion was not adopted in the new draft.

“Calculating penalties by day is actually more of a principled item than removing the upper limit for fines because the previous 1-million-yuan limit may already be hard enough to reach when the regulation is being implemented,” Ma said.

However, he said that the Environmental Protection Law, which is also currently being amended, has included penalties calculated by day in its draft, and such rules may also be added to the air pollution regulation in the future.

wuwencong@chinadaily.com.cn

China aiming to tame weather

ChinaMinistry

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 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

ChinaMinistry

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.”

zhengxin@chinadaily.com.cn