China Environment and Economy Daily

China needs additional action to control climate change

Helen Davidson, 11-11, 22, The Guardian, Is China doing enough to combat the climate crisis?,

After decades of fossil fuel-driven economic growth and industrialisation, China is now the world’s biggest carbon emitter, contributing almost a third of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2020. It is also the most exposed to the impact of the climate crisis, in terms of its population size and number of environmental disasters, according to UN figures. Average temperatures and sea levels have risen faster than global averages, and in just one year since Cop26, China has experienced record-breaking floods and heatwaves, bringing with them severe energy crises. China’s government has signed up to global climate pledges and is a big driver of renewable energy, but like with many countries, experts have raised concerns over the scale of the cuts. “It is complicated,” said the Trivium analyst Cory Combs. “The general summary is: they are genuinely ambitious but also probably not enough.” Of key concern as countries come together at Cop27 is China’s recent suspension of a climate agreement with the world’s other big global emitter, the US. At Cop26, the US and China made a declaration of cooperation but when the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, angered Beijing by visiting Taiwan this year, bilateral climate talks were suspended amid a suite of retaliatory acts. For the 2015 Paris agreement, China pledged to peak its emissions by 2030. At a UN meeting in 2020, the president, Xi Jinping, announced a target of carbon neutrality by 2060. The following year, at another UN meeting, he pledged China would stop building coal-fired power plants. The targets went beyond China’s national determined Paris agreement contributions, and signalled a significant domestic upshift towards a more sustainable economic strategy and focus on the environment. China had been the biggest producer of coal and accounted for about half of global coal consumption in 2021, and was the world’s largest foreign financier of fossil fuel infrastructure, according to the Council for Foreign Relations. Domestically, China’s crucial “five-year plans”, which set out national policies for each political term, codified some of the new ambitions. In its 12th plan (covering 2011-15), Beijing had outlined a 16% reduction in energy intensity and a 17% reduction in the amount of carbon emissions per unit of GDP. In its 14th (2021-25), it committed to reducing the latter by 65%, and raised the share of non-fossil (renewable) fuels in primary energy consumption from 20% to 25%. After the ban on new coal-fired power projects, Chinese banks committed to not investing in new overseas coal projects. “We haven’t seen any new coal projects after September 2021, so the data also supports the progress we’ve seen on overseas coal investment,” Shuang Liu, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute recently told the Asia Society. China has also launched major efforts on improving its climate adaption and resilience, including a national strategy increasing protections of wetlands and animal species, and growing the proportion of grasslands and forested areas. The government has invested heavily in electric vehicles. By June, China had nearly 10m new-energy vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles – more than half the world’s estimated total, according to the London School of Economics. Combs says China is “remarkably ambitious” on its renewable energy goals, and is on track to hit 1200GW in renewables by the end of the decade. There has been a huge buildup in onshore wind and solar, more recently in offshore wind. In 2021, new projects in China contributed 80% of global additions to wind power. Timelines are “uncertain” but China is also advancing in research and development of nuclear energy. But there’s a problem. Essentially, China’s renewables are advancing faster than the electricity grids, markets, and transmission technology can keep up, creating a “huge roadblock”. “In the last year we’ve seen at least five provinces have to scale back approvals of distributed renewable energy resources because they were building up too much capacity,” Combs said. Electricity production and markets are tied to provinces, and the regions with some of the best potential for renewable energy generation, such as the Gobi desert, have a fraction of the demand than less capable markets, such as Guangdong, have. And transmission-line projects are not yet advanced enough to transfer it. Shanghai was forced to switch off decorative lights along its famed Bund riverfront for two days from 22 August in response to a nationwide heatwave that has sent power demand soaring The climate emergency is also complicating efforts to mitigate its impact. This summer, China experienced a record-breaking drought and heatwave, which dried up parts of the economically, industrially and environmentally crucial Yangtze River. For Sichuan, which has been so successful building hydropower that it now draws 80% of its power needs from it, that led to massive energy shortages. In 2021, China faced an even bigger power crunch, exacerbated by the division of political power and responsibility between the central and provincial governments. In 2022, further pressure came from the war in Ukraine and soaring demand with undulating Covid restrictions. The Climate Tracker estimated China’s emissions rose 3.4% in 2021. In response to these successive energy and economic crises, China – like some European countries – has returned to what observers hope is a temporary increased reliance on coal. “With the 14th [five-year plan] targets to be met by 2025, and 2022 in effect a lost year for energy decarbonisation efforts, China has just lost one-third of its remaining time to meet its goals,” said the Asia Society in a recent issues paper. Combs added: “It’s doing what it believes it can do, what it can achieve without completely destroying its economy.” While China has launched some big initiatives and appears committed to mitigating the effects of the climate crisis and increasing its use of green energy, its international commitments fall short of what experts say is needed. The net zero target is widely regarded as too late to ensure the world limits global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and emissions must peak by 2025 to be in line with Paris goals. “What separates China from the rest of the world is the power of its leader, Xi Jinping, to make climate a politically non-negotiable pillar of long-term policymaking,” said the Asia Society paper. “But realistically, for now, officials will not sacrifice short-term economic demands for the 2030 target – and certainly not for 2060 – raising the prospect of serious challenges near the end of the decade.”

China’s environment significantly worse than official statistics show

The BL, 11-6, 22, Beijing’s environmental destruction: long legacy exposed, journalist,

At the recent CCP’s 20th National Congress, China’s ruling government said that it had done a better job of protecting the environment over the past ten years. A Chinese investigative reporter exposed the opposite picture of a badly damaged China’s ecosystem that might not get better for decades. Zhai Qing is China’s vice minister of ecology and environment. At a press conference, Zhai Qing claimed the CCP’s many achievements in the field. These include making the world’s fastest improvement in air quality, improving water safety rating for 770 million people, and helping more than 300 rare and endangered wild animals and plants recover and grow in number. However, mainland Chinese investigative reporter Zhao Lanjian told The Epoch Times a totally contrasting story. Zhao said that China’s air pollution, groundwater pollution, soil pollution, and other problems still remain at shockingly high levels. Zhao said that the standards for environmental protection evaluation should come from the non-governmental organizations. Official data could not be trusted. Zhao Lanjian says that China’s economic model and environmental protection policies are not consistent. Zhao said: “Some protected natural resource landscapes have been developed for quick commercial success in a predatory model, such as Zhangjiajie or Changbai Mountain.” The reporter recalled: “I have visited Changbai Mountain four times; the earliest visit was in 1994 and again in 2015,” Zhao said, referring to a mountain in northeastern China’s Jilin Province near the border with North Korea. He added, “I found out that the natural reserve has been plundered and artificially developed, and all the scenic spots in China are facing the same problem”. According to Zhao, in many countries, such as the United States and Chile, people are not allowed to build roads or to develop commercial tourism. But in China, people put the tourist economic model first. They put tourism revenue from selling tickets first. Zhao has spent the last 10 years studying the Yangtze River and Yellow River in Qinghai, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia to understand their ecological status. He has seen how the same model of “predatory development” has hurt the environment. Then comes desertification which affects the water supply, fisheries. Sanjiangyuan is the birthplace of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang rivers. Its name also translates to “The Source of the Three Rivers.” Commonly referred to as the “Chinese Water Tower,” Sanjiangyuan plays an essential role in China’s ecological status and national economic development. In 2018, Zhao went to do field studies in Sanjiangyuan, which is in the southern part of Qinghai Province on the Tibetan plateau. There, he saw many new deserts. When Zhao referred to maps in the past, he discovered that thirty years ago, the area was covered with graveyards and swamps. These new deserts were formed in the last 30 years under shocking ecological changes. Zhao said: “I interviewed some experts, and they also believed that the desertification of the upper reaches of the Sanjiangyuan has actually caused the water shortage in Shanghai and the entire Yangtze River system.” “Everyone can see the deterioration of China’s ecological environment now, such as the cut-off of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers and many water systems.” “The cutoff of such water systems will also affect the development of agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries along the rivers. Therefore, no matter how good the government’s slogan is about these environmental issues, the reality is visible to everyone.” This is the pollution scene in a river in the Tengger Desert in northwest China’s Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous after a paper company releases chemical wastewater. After the wastewater dried up, chemical crystals began to appear on the shore.

COVID-19 restrictions continue to weaken China’s economy

Reuters, 10-31, 22, China’s factory, services activity skids on relentless COVID curbs,

BEIJING, Oct 31 (Reuters) – China’s factory activity unexpectedly fell in October, weighed by softening global demand and strict domestic COVID-19 curbs, which hit production, travel and shipping in the world’s second-largest economy. While China’s economic growth beat expectations in the third quarter, persistent COVID-19 curbs, a prolonged property slump and global recession risks are clouding a more robust revival in factory and consumer activity. The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.2 from 50.1 in September, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday. The result unexpectedly broke below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction with economists in a Reuters poll forecasting the PMI to have come in at exactly 50.0. “The official PMIs point to a further loss of momentum in this month as virus disruptions worsened and export orders remained under pressure,” said Zichun Huang, economist at Capital Economics in a research note. “With the zero-COVID policy here to stay, we think the economy will continue to struggle heading into 2023.” Separately, the non-manufacturing PMI, which looks at service sector activity, fell to 48.7 from 50.6 in September. Benchmark mainland Chinese indexes (.CSI300)(.SSEC) fell after the PMI release.  The offshore yuan fell 0.32% against the dollar but later rose slightly.

China is the world’s largest carbon emitter

Seth Borenstein, 10-28, 22,,  Climate Questions: Who are the big emitters?

In 2020, the last year for full national data, China spewed more than 11.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide (more than 10.6 billion metric tons), which is 30.6% of the globe’s carbon dioxide emissions and more than twice as much carbon pollution as the United States which was the next highest emitter at 13.5%, scientists calculated. The European Union, when lumped together, comes in third at 7.5% followed by India’s 7%.

Massive pollution in China triggering cancer,

Katherine Miller, 10-28, 22, The BL, CCP’s 10-year environmental achievements exposed,
Officials from China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment cite many figures and claim that they have managed the environment more effectively in the past decade. But Chinese investigative reporters revealed that the Chinese regime’s devastating attack on the environment is terrifying, making it unlikely that the environment will be restored in the coming decades or even centuries. Chinese state media reported that, on October 21, the news center of the 20th National Congress of the CCP held a press conference. where vice minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment Zhai Qing, a member of the group spoke with reporters. Zhai claimed that, in the past 10 years, under the direction of “Xi Jinping and the ideology of ecological civilization,” they have adhered to the management of blue waters and green mountains, environmental protection, and ecology has undergone major changes, with unprecedented efficiency. Official data is unreliable, protected areas are being exploited In response to these claims Chinese investigative reporter Zhao Lanjian revealed to The Epoch Times on October 23 that all indicators relating to China’s air pollution, groundwater pollution, and soil pollution, are shocking. The anti-pollution public is suppressed, investigative journalists are persecuted, and only Environment Department officials have been flattering and deluding themselves. Zhao said that the assessment criteria for environmental protection should first come from the establishment of an evaluation system by NGOs, who could objectively assess some environmental protection results related to people’s lives. When Zhai exaggerated how well his environmental management was, the press knew that as all the questions had been prepared in advance, the data was unreliable. In addition, the CCP’s management and protection of the environment along with the economic development of the CCP also have many contradictions. Zhao gave an example. Some natural landscapes such as Zhangjiajie or the protected Changbai Mountain were actually exploited for commercial economic models. Zhao said, “I visited Changbai Mountain 4 times, the earliest was in 1994 and again in 2015, and found that the reserve has been looted and artificially developed, and all the scenic spots in China are facing the same problem.” He said, “I have seen in eco-parks in many countries like the US and Chile, they are not allowed to build roads, nor are they allowed to explore and develop commercial tourism. However, China sets a model, an economic model for tourism that comes first and income from tickets is a top priority.” The Epoch Times reported that Zhao spent 10 years investigating the ecological environment of several places along the Yangtze river, the Yellow River, Qinghai, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. When he compares some eco-environment or tourism environment in the country with some international countries, he “feels downhearted.” Zhao said that many grasslands in Qinghai and Tibet are enclosed by fences, which not only affects migration, but animals can’t hunt. The natural ecological chain is broken. There have also constructed highways and railways. While on the one hand, it can bring about so-called economic development of a certain region, however, both energy and economic models make ecological chains fragile, and Qinghai and Tibet are both ecologically fragile links. Desertification of Sanjiangyuan area In 2018, Zhao went to various areas of Sanjiangyuan National Park to investigate the park’s natural habitat and found that there was a lot of desert. When comparing with the earlier maps, he discovered that the desert formed 30 years ago when there were still some swamps. Zhao said the existence of this desert proves that at least the ecological environment of the Sanjiangyuan area has gone through unimaginable changes. He also asked a number of experts, and they also believe that desertification in the upstream Sanjiangyuan is in fact one of the factors causing water shortages in Shanghai and the whole Yangtze river system. According to information from Baidu, Sanjiangyuan is located on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai Province. This is where the three main river systems the Yangtze river, Yellow River, and Mekong form. It is known as the “Water Tower of China” and plays an important role in its ecological status and national economic development. In August 2016, when Xi visited Qinghai, he emphasized that the ecological status of the region is very important and unique, as it is responsible for protecting the watershed of Sanjiangyuan and the “Chinese Water Tower.” Zhao said that people can see the deterioration of China’s environment today, such as the Yangtze and Yellow River systems drying up. A number of factors are causing environmental change—excessive dam construction, unequal distribution of water flows, and uneven distribution of benefits. Zhao said, “Such a systematic lack of water will also affect the development of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries along the river. Therefore, no matter how beautiful the government’s slogans on these environmental issues are, everyone can see droughts in Poyang Lake, the Yangtze and many different water systems drying up.” The environment is seriously polluted; the investigative reporter is punished On October 16, Xi report to the congress stated that he is “strongly promoting the prevention and control of environmental pollution, and further reinforcing the protection and ecological management of important rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.” Zhao thinks that the issues of environmental and ecological protection are extremely urgent, and the CCP can’t help but talk about it. The environment has already changed, in fact the environment has already deteriorated to a certain extent. The development model of society is on the verge of crisis. According to RFA, Zhao’s 2014 report on the pollution of the Tengger desert in the Inner Mongolia was startling. Local ranchers point out that sewage ponds have appeared in the desert hinterland and local businesses have discharged untreated wastewater into the sewage ponds. After Zhao’s 2018 interview about the pollution of the Tengger Desert, his 2014 article and photos online were deleted. Zhao Lanjian told The Epoch Times, “China’s media has been tightened since 2014, and investigative reporters have been brutally suppressed. Some local newspapers have also stopped publishing and even a number of local city committee newspapers are insolvent or have been suspended from publication.” Not only have investigative reporters been suppressed, but collective anti-pollution cases have also been suppressed to the point of almost disappearing in recent years. In 2017, NTD reported that, in order to make political achievements, various high-pollution projects, known by the people as an “ultimate death penalty” were launched in various regions. These projects generate waste and wastewater, which not only pollute water sources and land, but also endanger humans. Groundwater in 90% of Chinese cities is polluted due to businesses discharging wastewater deep underground. A public welfare worker made a “Map of Cancer Villages in China.” Due to pollution, thousands of cancer villages have cropped up across the country. CCTV once reported that in Langfang City, Hebei Province, Jinghai District, Tianjin and other places, people kept finding super industrial sewage pits. People living near the sewage pit are prone to cancer, the trees die if they are watered from the sewage pit, and the bad smell in the air never goes away, especially in the summer. At the same time, large-scale protests by the tens of thousands against pollution have taken place in different parts of China. In September 2022, the newspaper “Toutiao” reported that a total of 824.36 million yuan ($113.66 million) had been invested in restoring the environmental in the Tengger Desert, and the extent of groundwater contamination has been effectively controlled. Local authorities make fake green mountains Zhao pointed out, “After Xi Jinping initiated the green mountains and clear water, the local government was unable to restore the green mountains. As a result, layers of green trees like plastic have been scattered from the top to the foot of the mountain, and the bare mountain becomes a green mountain, and in many other places, a green mountain is sprayed with ink and green paint. According to The Epoch Times, there are also some cities that require each household to spend between 6,000 and 7,000 yuan ($827 and $965) to plant artificial trees and artificial flowers on the street. These are consequences caused by superficial efforts from officials in many places. Zhao said, “The destruction of the entire Chinese environment, tourism resources, and ecological resources may not be restored in the next few decades, or even hundreds of years.”

Beijing cracking-down on soil pollution

Niu Yuhan, 10-27, 22, China Dialogue, The provinces regulating against soil pollution,

Beijing city recently released regulations to address soil pollution, including by controlling use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and strengthening monitoring of industrial polluters. The new rules will come into force at the beginning of next year. They are one of 15 sets produced by provincial-level governments across China to aid implementation of the national soil pollution law, Jiemian News has reported. That law, which entered service in 2019, clarified who is responsible for preventing and managing soil pollution, and adopted a protection-first and polluter-pays approach. Most of the provincial regulations are firmest of all on violations that lead to groundwater contamination, raising the maximum fine to 2 million yuan (US$300,000).

Massive soil pollution threatens food production in China

Niu Yuhan, 10-27, 22, China Dialogue, The provinces regulating against soil pollution,

China has been grappling with severe soil pollution for years. In 2014, 16.1% of soil samples collected from around the country showed evidence of pollution, a joint survey by two ministries found. The issue poses a threat to the quality of arable land and food security. “Heavy metal pollution of soil in southern China, the most important grain-producing area, is more serious than in northern China”, Chen Tongbin, a soil expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Jiemian. The primary sources of soil pollution in the last century are non-ferrous metal mining, smelting and discharge of industrial effluent, according to Chen. He warns that once soil pollution occurs, it is difficult and costly to treat. Su Kejing, director of soil ecology at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said earlier this year that the central government will continue to push local governments at all levels to address soil pollution.

China leading the development of renewable energy globally

Wen Sheng, 10-26, 22, Global Times, China becomes global pioneer, leader in developing renewable clean energy,

China’s central government has advanced the development of a new energy system through accelerating decarbonization and pollution mitigation to realize an “ecological transformation” in the coming years to sustain China’s green growth and at the same time to lead the global combat against climate change. Increasingly, more people are reaching the consensus that only “clear waters and lush mountains are the silver and gold,” which is becoming a major guiding philosophy embraced by China. Only harmonious co-existence of human and nature is sustainable over the long term, and it ought to be a mission embedded in the nation’s overall development plan. In contrast to the US government’s retreating commitment to the industry under former president Donald Trump and the lip service paid by incumbent President Joe Biden, China has the political courage, economic incentive, technological capability and moral consensus to lead the global renewable energy drive and the fight against climate change. The international community could be assured that China is genuinely interested in leading the world in deployment and investment in renewable energy. Over the last decade, the country has led the world in expanding the penetration and use of renewable energy. For instance, China owns five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing companies as well as the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer. After a decade of intensive government-led efforts to curb air pollution and facilitate the Chinese economy’s shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, a rising number of Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other megacities, have met the national air quality standard. In Beijing, the yearly average level of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, fell to 29 micrograms per cubic meter in 2021 – below the nationally set standard of 35 micrograms/cubic meters and less than half of that a decade ago. As a result, Beijing residents were enjoying four more months of blue skies last year than 2013. That many other parts of China have also witnessed such remarkable improvement in air quality over the last 10 years shows China’s sustained efforts to transition its energy structure to clean energy and pursue higher-quality economic development are increasingly bearing fruit. Based on the country’s energy and resource availability, China has been proactively promoting peak carbon in approximately 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. Renewable energy deployment is a prime part of a larger government effort to develop an “ecological civilization,” which will be bolstered by a cross-industrial approach to lower pollution level and lower fossil fuel use, in addition to improving energy efficiency. By 2030, at least one-fifth of China’s electricity consumption will come from non-fossil fuel sources, according to a plan outlined by the central government. Currently, the share of non-fossil energy – wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and nuclear power – in primary energy consumption has risen from 9.7 percent in 2012 to 16.6 percent in 2021, while the share of wind and solar power in the country’s energy mix having increased from 2.1 percent in 2012 to 11.7 percent at the end of 2021. In the past years, the nation has scaled up its renewable energy production, solar, wind and nuclear power in particular, to replace the use of coal and oil, creating millions of jobs in the process. Starting with the promulgation of the Renewable Energy Law in 2005, which institutionalized the policies to support renewable energy development, China has taken a raft of measures to facilitate the transition to renewable clean energy. The Ministry of Commerce’s 2017 Industry Catalogue Guiding Foreign Investment lists renewable energy as an encouraged area for inbound investment, allowing foreign investors to establish wholly-foreign owned enterprises in the country. And the central government’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan of 2013 vowed to reduce the share of coal in the country’s energy mix to less than 65 percent by 2018, while drastically cut the use of coal in provinces and regions with high levels of air pollution. The Action Plan also strengthened pollution control and improved law enforcement in key polluting industrial lines such as electricity generation, heavy industry and auto manufacturing. As a result, many local governments have ramped up efforts, requiring enterprises to close down highly polluting operations and strictly implement pollution control standards. Simultaneously, in China’s vast northern rural areas, the government launched a program to replace coal with natural gas and electricity for winter home heating. Some provinces and regions have encouraged rural households to install solar photovoltaic panels as a part of the poverty alleviation initiative. As a result of these efforts, China’s solar and wind power industries have become the largest in the world and the country’s energy structure has begun shifting toward renewable clean energy. For example, the share of coal in primary energy consumption fell from 68.5 percent in 2012 to 56.1 percent in 2021, and coal is likely to make up less than half of the total energy consumption by 2026. As a renewable energy deployment continues to rise around the globe, the alignment of the country’s capabilities and government incentives to invest in the sector positions China in an even stronger leading position for the green energy sector’s future. Analysis has cited China as the largest investor in low-carbon technology innovations – inputting a total of $260 billion in 2021 mainly in renewable energies and electric vehicles. Consequentially, China is leading the world in both new energy and electric vehicle development and production, which significantly adds to China’s industrial competitiveness in the world, while creating up to 3 million high-paying jobs in the country. As China has become one of the world’s foremost developers of renewable technology and clean energy, the strategic benefits of investing in China and cooperating with Chinese scientists and technicians in research and development outstrips the odds. China’s decade-long experience of transitioning to clean energy shows that doing so can benefit economic growth, improve people’s livelihood and better protect the environment.

China ignores its own environmental laws

Nacks Wu, 10-24, 22,, Why China’s Environmental Impact Assessors Are Giving Up, Nacks Wu is a former environmental impact assessor. He now works for an environmental NGO.

Whenever an environmental impact assessment (EIA) professional takes on a new job — regardless of whether it’s something big, like a dam or major land reclamation project, or smaller, like a plastic factory — we already know what the final outcome will be: approval. This is true regardless of the reality on the ground. In 2016, hundreds of students at an school in the eastern province of Jiangsu fell ill. Later, parents learned that the school, built in 2010, was located about 200 meters from a former chemical plant. Not only had construction started prior to the completion of the necessary EIA report, but the report, which found evidence of pollutants, was approved despite skirting the subject of the potential health hazards posed by this contamination. In theory, any construction project in China involving environmentally sensitive areas, pollution risks, or other, similar hazards must submit a completed EIA and receive government approval before construction can begin. The reality is different. Approval is oftentimes a formality, and assessors like myself a pawn in a game played by multiple powerful stakeholders. None of this was clear to me more than a decade ago when I chose to major in environmental engineering. I figured that, after decades of rapid agricultural and industrial development, environmental protection and reclamation would be important to China’s future. Few of the people around me seemed to share my conviction. I even had relatives joke that I was majoring in street cleaning. Yet, over the past decade or so, as public awareness of environmental issues rose, the environmental protection industry grew rapidly. The year after I graduated, 2014, saw the release of China’s revised Environmental Protection Law. The amended law, which took effect in 2015, clarified the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection and outlined new protection measures and punishments for violators, such as ecological red lines. Some of these measures, such as those aimed at reducing emissions, have made important strides, but efforts both before and after the Environmental Protection Law to reform the EIA assessment process have had more mixed results. This was driven home, at least for me, by the 2018 carbon nine (C9) spill in Quanzhou, along the coast of the southeastern province of Fujian. A leak at a petrochemical terminal in Quanzhou Port ended up releasing 69.1 tons of C9 into the ocean, polluting the water and sickening dozens of nearby residents. In the aftermath, the public began asking questions about the terminal’s construction process, which took place without prior EIA approval. Had the EIA report been conducted in accordance with regulations, then the leak’s damage might have been limited. That’s just one example of the scandals that have cast doubt on the integrity of EIA reports and the people who draft and approve them. But the truth is, we’re putting too much faith in EIA assessors to navigate a system that all but sets them up to fail. Most EIA assessors are hired by the construction agency, and the two sides typically share the same goal: getting the report approved smoothly, regardless of its findings. After all, that’s the only way they get paid. In places like the United States and Hong Kong, public scrutiny helps keep EIA assessors and government regulators honest. Although the Chinese mainland has made progress in recent years when it comes to public participation in the construction approval process, including by requiring full disclosure of EIAs, problems remain. For example, EIA reports in Hong Kong generally have a monthlong public disclosure period, compared to between five and 15 business days on the mainland. That doesn’t allow for sufficient checks and balances on the construction process, nor does it encourage construction companies — or even EIA agencies themselves — to take the investigation seriously. This attitude is reinforced by the fact that EIAs are typically performed only late in the planning process, after firms have already invested capital in land and staffing. Firms also pay for EIAs in installments, with the final payment due only when — or if — they are approved. EIA agencies, unwilling to bear the loss of a client, often pressure assessors to negotiate with the construction firm. This forces the assessor to juggle two contradictory responsibilities: ensuring there are no major errors in the final report and paving the way for approval by “optimizing” minor issues away. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Over the past 10 years, the Chinese government undertook a series of reforms to reduce red tape, prevent rent-seeking behavior by agencies with government backgrounds, and introduce market competition into the EIA process. Previously, EIAs were undertaken directly by local governments, which frequently had a stake in the speedy approval of new development projects. Even after EIA agencies were ostensibly split from the government, many agencies had close ties to regulators, leading to widespread rent-seeking and conflicts of interest. To address the issue, China began doing away with many of the bureaucratic hurdles for entering the EIA sector. Within a few years, official approval was no longer needed to start an EIA agency. At least one qualified, registered assessor was still required to carry out EIAs, but agencies themselves no longer needed government sanction to operate, drastically lowering the threshold to entering the industry. These reforms, the most recent of which took effect in 2018, were divisive among assessors. They lowered the costs of the EIA process for smaller projects — an EIA form that used to cost between 20,000 and 30,000 yuan ($2,800 to $4,200) to produce now costs only 10,000 yuan — and the number of EIA agencies has grown eightfold since 2018. But many assessors, myself included, believe that it has made our lives harder by forcing us to compete with lower-quality agencies. Under the new rules, an EIA report has to be compiled by a licensed assessor, but they can be assisted by other staff, as long as they are full-time employees of the agency conducting the assessment. This has led to a free-for-all, as assessors have begun collecting fees by signing off on reports produced by others. In one reported case, an EIA agency with a single registered assessor on staff somehow managed to produce 64 EIA reports and 1,576 EIA forms across 25 province-level regions in just four months’ time. To keep up with demand, assessment agencies rely on templates, updating only a handful of things from one report to the next. These templates shorten the writing process, but they are incompatible with the spirit of the EIA system. For their part, construction project managers naturally prioritize speed when selecting an EIA agency. An additional month spent in the writing and approval processes means an additional month of costs, so they prefer an agency that can work fast or one that has a good relationship with local regulators. The EIA process, from writing to approval, generally takes between four and nine months, but certain EIA agencies, relying on templates and a staff of unqualified writers, promise shorter turnarounds, sometimes as fast as two months. This all adds up to a deluge of fake, inaccurate, or plagiarized EIAs. In July, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment blacklisted 265 EIA companies and 217 assessors after a nationwide screening process. By late 2019, in an effort to keep up with an increasingly fast-paced, cutthroat industry, I was working 12 hours a day, six days a week. It was an untenable situation that eventually pushed me out of EIA business and led me to take a job with an environmental protection organization. Conditions have not improved in the years since I left: Thanks to the pandemic, local governments are under mounting pressure to maintain economic growth rates, which has led many to grant EIA exemptions to firms they believe pose lower risks of pollution. As business dries up, many of my former colleagues have likewise left the industry. I continue to believe that environmental impact assessments are a vital tool for understanding and identifying potential environmental hazards before they become problems. But with EIA work still regarded as a mere formality, and the people who perform it seen as interchangeable pawns, the system is in dire need of a ground-up overhaul.

China facing a massive water crisis

Meave Cambell, 10-22, 22,, What are sponge cities and could they solve China’s water crisis?

In China, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, water is running out. The country’s 1.4 billion population needs the vital resource to thrive but it has become limited and unevenly distributed. After decades of urbanisation and pollution, China is now faced with both water shortages and flooding – only made worse by the effects of climate change. And pollution is making water quality worse, meaning much of the water available is unusable. Insufficient management of local resources plays a part too. North China is particularly impacted. It suffers from water shortages throughout the year, whereas South China, despite sufficient quantities, experiences only seasonal scarcity. One of the problems is that 80 per cent of water is concentrated in South China, yet the North is the core of national development. Flooding is also a huge problem. Climate change is causing heavier rainfall and storms, affecting large areas of southern China including the Yangtze basin and its tributaries. In July 2021, the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, Henan, battled the heaviest rain in a millennia and devastating floods that killed at least 300 people and displaced 1.24 million residents, according to the NY Times.

China reducing pollution now


Cheng Si, 10-21, 22, China Daily, China cracks down on environment-damaging behavior,

China has taken stern measures to crack down on illegal environment-damaging behaviors, and these measures are of great importance to the continuous improvement of the nation’s ecological environment in the past ten years. Zhai Qing, vice-minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a news conference in Beijing on Friday that Xi Jinping has stressed that the government bodies should protect the environment with the most strict mechanisms and legal system and crack down on behaviors damaging the environment. “We’ve made great efforts in regulating the pollution. In past five years (from 2017), we carried out 105 supervision campaigns with nearly 50,000 administrative members joining the fight against air pollution in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and surrounding areas,” he said. “Over that time period, we checked over 2.1 million places and dealt with over 280,000 cases on air pollution”. “Also, we started to inspect rivers’ drainage outlets to oceans in 2018. We first used drones 2,300 times to check the drainage outlets along nine main branches of the Yangtze River and Minjiang River with an area of around 46,000 square kilometers covered,” he added. “Then over 4,600 of our administrative members checked about 60,292 drainage outlets after traveling for 180,000 km along these rivers”. According to him, the ministry has continued to enforce the law on ecological protection. “We’ve dealt with over 170,000 cases after the new environmental law took effect in 2015. Then we’ve improved the connection between administrative punishment and criminal penalty on environment-related matters. For example, 23 suspects were prosecuted for their criminal liability by falsifying data on environmental monitoring, which is the first time in the history of environmental protection,” he said. These regulation campaigns have not only offered sound foundation for the nation’s sustainable development, but also helped protect the public’s environmental rights. “Over 80,000 environmental law enforcement staffers have fought on the front line of environmental protection campaigns in past years, contributing their own efforts to improve the environment”. According to him, the nation’s ecological protection has made great progress in past decade with about 25 laws on air, water, soil and noise pollution management, also wetlands and Yangtze River protection is being revised. He said that the nation now has more innovative and strict mechanisms for supervising the environment including approvals on pollution discharge, carbon emissions trading and banning the imports of foreign garbage.

China will continue its zero-COVID 19 policy

Ashford, 10-21, 22, Emma Ashford is a senior fellow with the Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy program at the Stimson Center, an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University, and the author of Oil, the State, and War, Foreign Policy, Strategy a Match for a Chaotic World?,

EA: I’m not so interested in Xi’s personal success; I’ve been assuming that both he and an assertive Chinese foreign policy are here to stay for a while now. But I was extremely interested in his speech to the Party Congress on certain key economic and political issues, which has implications for the health of the Chinese economy in coming years. One of the big questions prior to the Party Congress was whether China would continue with its zero-COVID policy. It has been ruinously economically expensive for the country, particularly as most of the rest of the world reemerges into a form of post-COVID normality. But Xi continued to back the zero-COVID policy. I know a lot of folks have pointed to the Chinese government’s decision to delay the release of key economic data as worrying. It’s certainly suspicious, but I think the zero-COVID policy is the more worrying point. Chinese economic data is always more of a target set by the government than an actual record of what’s happening in the economy. But the refusal to back down from zero-COVID implies we’re not getting back to a “normal” Chinese economy anytime soon.

China’s economy collapsing

Matt Phillips, 10-17, 22, Axios, China’s shifting economic storyline,

Xi Jinping’s third term ruling China won’t be based on generating the kind of economic growth that defined the world economy in recent decades. Why it matters: China drives economic decision-making worldwide, from the investments made by Australian iron miners and German automakers to the planting patterns of Argentine and Iowan soybean farmers — to the borrowing decisions of the U.S. government, for which China is a massive creditor. Driving the news: Xi is all but certain to break with the traditional two-term limit for the country’s leaders. He’s expected to be named to a third term at the twice-a-decade congress for leaders of the ruling Communist Party, which just got underway. That will extend his tenure for another five years, cementing his revival of a personalized authoritarian style of leadership over the world’s most populous country. Backdrop: For decades, the party — members make up just 7% of the population — has based its legitimacy on China’s massive economic growth, which has lifted nearly 800 million of its people out of extreme poverty. Yes, but: China’s economy is not just slowing fast — it’s seriously struggling. Xi’s own zero-COVID policy — and the repeated, massive and often incredibly harsh lockdowns of cities that serve as China’s economic engines — has hobbled activity. The housing market — which accounts for as much as 30% of GDP once related industries are factored in — is in deep disarray, with prices dropping and developers tottering on the brink of bankruptcy. Longer-term prospects for economic growth look equally dismal, as collapsing birthrates will saddle it with lopsided demographics — and similar financial issues as Japan. Between the lines: The downbeat outlook for the economy is a key reason the party has shifted the storyline that justifies its monopoly on power away from the economic performance, and toward a narrative that emphasizes restoring China to its rightful place as a great power.

China sustaining COVID-19 lock-downs, disrupting the economy

Bloomberg, 10-17, 22,,

The iPhone manufacturing hub of Zhengzhou locked down one of its most-populated districts to tame a virus flareup, with creeping restrictions throughout China underscoring the constant threat of disruption companies face while the country sticks to Covid Zero. Almost 1 million residents of Zhongyuan district were ordered to stay at home starting Monday, except for when they need to undergo Covid testing, and non-essential businesses have been shut, according to a government notice. The wider restrictions follow the lockdown of some neighborhoods last week, catching many people by surprise after officials had said there wouldn’t be a citywide lockdown. IPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group’s plants aren’t located in the district that’s been locked down. Representatives for the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg News. The city reported 6 new local cases for Sunday, down from a recent peak of 40 on Oct 9. Nationwide, cases declined to 697, the lowest in two weeks, as outbreaks in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang came under control. Beijing posted 13 new cases, and Shanghai had 32. China is sticking to the Covid Zero pillars of lockdowns and mass testing to tame its biggest flareup in two months, despite the heavy cost. The policy has dragged on growth in the world’s second-biggest economy and roiled global supply chains as important manufacturing hubs — from cars, to phones and Christmas trees — contend with the disruption of shutdowns and reopenings. President Xi Jinping on Sunday signaled no looming change to the approach, disappointing investors who had hoped for some signs of loosening. During a speech opening the twice-a-decade Party Congress in Beijing, he said the strict rules protect people’s lives, though Xi avoided mentioning the economic toll. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict growth of just 3.3% this year, the second-weakest pace in more than four decades. The stringent Covid curbs have also been stoking public discontent. Censorship went into overdrive late last week, with words such as “Beijing” and “bridge” restricted on social media platforms like Weibo after two banners criticizing Xi and Covid Zero were displayed on a bridge in the capital. One read: “We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns and controls.” While China’s most important cities have so far avoided large-scale lockdowns, officials have instead being quietly halting a growing list of activities. Several schools in Shanghai have suspended in-person classes as the fear of infection spread grows, according to parents and social media posts. The port city of Tianjin last week announced a lockdown of one district and the southern megacity of Guangzhou shut schools in one area.

Air pollution kills 8.7 million a year, 5th largest cause of death

C Sorensen, associate professor, 10-12, 22, epartment of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University,

Ambient air pollution is the fifth highest risk factor for death (after hypertension, smoking, high fasting glucose, and high total cholesterol), according to the Health Effects Institute.1 Annually, 8.7 million global deaths are thought to be caused by inhalation of particulate matter released into the air from combustion of fossil fuels.2 In Europe, particulate matter and ozone account for almost 800 000 excess deaths annually.

China plagued by air and water pollution

Qian, 10-12, 22, Nancy Qian, professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is a co-director of Northwestern University’s Global Poverty Research Lab and the Founding Director of China Econ Lab. This article was distributed by Project Syndicate (, Posted : 2022-10-12 14:27Updated : 2022-10-12 17:02, How Xi Jinping can strengthen Chinese economy,

Meanwhile, pollution was literally killing China. By 2013, Beijing’s air had an average of 102 micrograms of PM2.5 particles per cubic meter, whereas Los Angeles ― a city historically known for its air pollution ― had a PM2.5 reading of only around 15. Chinese city dwellers increasingly complained about the cardiopulmonary illnesses and early mortality associated with pollution. And China was also plagued by water pollution, owing to the chemical runoff from its factories, farms, and mines. In rural areas, entire villages and towns sometimes had to move because their water supply had been irreparably contaminated.

China air pollution decreasing but the economy is slow

Qian, 10-12, 22, Nancy Qian, professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is a co-director of Northwestern University’s Global Poverty Research Lab and the Founding Director of China Econ Lab. This article was distributed by Project Syndicate (, Posted : 2022-10-12 14:27Updated : 2022-10-12 17:02, How Xi Jinping can strengthen Chinese economy,

When Xi came to power, he took great pains to confront these challenges head-on. But the results have been mixed. On a positive note, PM2.5 readings in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have been halved over the past ten years, and China’s Gini coefficient today is back below that of the US and 13 percent below its 2010 peak. But other indicators are less favorable. Between 2012 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s annual GDP growth rate has either remained flat or declined. Even though the government has abolished its stringent one-child policy, fertility rates have remained very low. The share of individuals aged 65 and older today is nearly 13 percent, a new peak for the modern era. And ten years after Xi launched a highly touted anti-corruption campaign, public perceptions of corruption are higher than ever.

Urban led economic development destroy the environment, causes water pollution

Chen, 10-11, 22, Yufan Chen, Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China, Nature, The spatial stress of urban land expansion on the water environment of the Yangtze River Delta in China,

The realization of human well-being and sustainable development goals in the process of rapid urbanization has long been threatened by a series of escalating water pollution. Growing cities and land-use changes result in surface hardening of natural areas, reducing infiltration and aquifer recharge, while increasing water run-off and pollution1. Urbanization is the process by which a country or region changes from a traditional, rural society to a modern, urban society. It impacts the environment through population movement, economic development and landscape transformation2,3. Urban expansion is an important feature of urbanization. Rapid urbanization means a large-scale influx of the rural population into a city, which requires increased impervious surface to meet basic space needs for production and living. As a result, the ecological space becomes occupied and the original structure of the regional environment is changed, causing ecological problems such as urban water environment degradation and biodiversity reduction4,5,6. Urban expansion is accompanied by high-intensity and high-density production and living activities. Many pollutants and dangerous chemicals continue to leak or dump in urban areas and surrounding waters, which inevitably leads to the deterioration of human settlements and even endangers human well-being7,8. To make the rapidly expanding urban areas more sustainable, it is urgent to curb the threat of various types of water pollutants to the regional water ecosystem. Every city should pay an active role in urbanization and environmental change, thus to create a healthier life and well-being for urban population1,9,10.

Research on the environmental effects of urban expansion has mainly focused on the atmospheric environment. In general, common pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, ozone and particulate matter have often been researched, and the relationship between air pollution and urban construction land expansion has been quantitatively analyzed by using GIS and regression analysis methods11,12,13. The aerosol characteristics retrieved from satellite remote sensing data have been used to analyze the urban air pollution caused by various human factors such as industrial activities, traffic pollution and engineering construction14,15,16. The results of these studies have shown that the distribution of urban land determines the spatial pattern of air pollutant emission sources17,18,19, and construction land, as the dominant factor, is positively correlated with urban air pollution20,21,22.

Research on water environments and urban expansion has mainly obtained the data of water pollutant emissions through sampling, monitoring and simulation experiments and then deconstructed the interaction mechanism between urban expansion and water pollution by using spatial measurement, path analysis, redundancy analysis and other methods23,24,25. Empirical studies have shown that urban land use structure has a spatial correlation with most water pollutant emissions26,27,28. The expansion of non-agricultural land and the contraction of arable land affect the intensity of water pollutant emissions to varying degrees, increasing the loads of ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), organic matter, heavy metals and other pollutants in the water of industrial and urban living areas29,30.

Some studies have revealed that environmental pollution comprises not only point-to-point pollution but also diffuse spatial spillover pollution31. Through many long time-series and multi-scale studies, scholars have confirmed that there are significant spatial correlation characteristics of water pollution and that adjacent basins often show similar water pollution patterns or change characteristics32,33,34,35. Urbanization is an important driving force of the coordinated development of urban agglomerations. Different urbanization processes result in different environmental pollution characteristics36,37. Compared with other forms of pollution, air pollution is more easily perceived38. With the support of geographically weighted regression, threshold models, the spatial Durbin model and other spatial econometric models, empirical studies have shown a positive correlation between urbanization and air pollution39. Especially in regional carbon emission and haze pollution, urbanization as the dominant factor has a significant spatial spillover effect40,41. That is, an increase in local urbanization exacerbates the degree of environmental pollution in adjacent areas, and there are cross effects between adjacent regions42,43.

Based on the research, we find that although the acceleration of urbanization and the expansion of urban scale promote economic development, they also increase the load on urban water resources and the water environment. It is important to understand the associated effect of urban expansion on water pollutant emissions and its spatial interaction mechanism. Studies have failed to quantify the intensity of this effect and the spatial differentiation of pollutant emissions caused by urban land expansion by using multiple scale analysis. Including construction land with rural construction land, transportation facilities land and other types makes it difficult to accurately estimate the impact of urban expansion. The regional pollution effect caused by a single city in urban agglomeration has yet to be analyzed from spatial dimension.

This study considers the case of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and integrates multi-source data, such as water pollutant emissions, land use, population and economy, to depict the temporal and spatial variation characteristics of water pollutant emissions at the county level from 2010 to 2015. A spatial econometric model is used to quantitatively analyze the associated effect and spatial mechanism of urban expansion and water pollutant emissions. This paper focuses on the following issues: (1) how to quantify the local and regional water pollution emissions caused by individual urban expansion; (2) how urban expansion affects water pollutant emissions and whether there is a spatial spillover effect and (3) how to effectively reduce the negative spillover effect of urban expansion and achieve high-quality environmental development in urban agglomerations, particularly areas with rapid urbanization and large-scale populations and economies.

During 2010–2015, the scale of water pollutant emissions in the YRD decreased significantly (Supplementary Appendix Table 2). Specifically, COD emissions decreased 41.36% from 3.15 million tons to 1.85 million tons, and total NH3-N emissions decreased 35.54% from 41.90 million tons to 27.01 million tons. The intensity of water pollutant emissions in counties also showed a downward trend. In 2010, the average emissions of COD and NH3-N in a county were 10,328.42 tons and 1373.67 tons, respectively. By 2015, they had decreased to 6065.58 tons and 885.50 tons, respectively. A comparison of the emissions of various provinces revealed that COD and NH3-N emissions in Jiangsu Province accounted for about 40% of the total amount in the YRD in the 5-year span. The rates of emissions reduction for these two pollutants were 34.93% and 34.11%, respectively. Thus, Jiangsu Province provided a large share of the YRD’s water pollutant emissions, and its emission reduction effects were also more prominent.

The spatial distribution of water pollutant emissions by counties in the YRD is shown in Fig. 2. It can be seen from Table 2 that the number of counties whose COD emissions decreased by 1, 2, 3, and 4 levels are 130, 55, 2 and 1 respectively. Among them, the number of counties with COD emission grades of V and IV, i.e., emission intensities of more than 10,000 tons, decreased from 128 to 43 specially (Fig. 2a,b). Similarly, the NH3-N emissions of 137, 30 and 2 counties decrease by 1, 2 and 3 levels respectively, and the number of counties with NH3-N emission grades of V and IV decreased from 179 to 100 (Fig. 2c,d). Comparing these four subfigures, we can see that no matter what kind of pollutant, the distribution of V-class counties shrank from the large-scale, continuous distribution in Shanghai; provincial capital cities, such as Hangzhou, Hefei and Nanjing; the eastern coastal area and the Northern region in 2010, forming a scattered distribution pattern in 2015. Emission intensity at the county level increased from the central urban area throughout the surrounding area. This shows that urban expansion is spatially related to water pollution emission levels. In addition, the emission intensities of counties near provincial or city administrative boundaries were higher than those of counties within cities.

Taking 10 km as the buffer distance, the COD and NH3-N emissions of counties were measured at different distances from both the coastline and the main stream of the Yangtze River. To avoid possible interference from coastal locations, counties within 100 km of the coastline were not included. As shown in Figs. 3, the emissions of COD and NH3-N in counties at various distances show a logarithmic curve relationship, and the overall emissions in 2015 were lower than in 2010. Specifically, it can be seen from Fig. 3a,b that the water pollutant emissions of coastal counties were higher than those of inland counties, and COD and NH3-N emissions of counties within 100 km of the coastline accounted for 43.69% and 50.34% of total YRD emissions, respectively. Moreover, because nearly half of the counties in Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu are close to the East Sea, their overall pollution emission intensity will be higher than that of Anhui. Similarly, the COD and NH3-N emissions of counties within 50 km of the Yangtze River mainstream accounted for 47.28% and 42.27% of total YRD emissions, respectively (Fig. 3c,d). The Yangtze River directly passes through Anhui and Jiangsu, and then flows out to Shanghai. Therefore, considering the actual distance between each county and the Yangtze River, the water pollution emissions of Anhui and Jiangsu will be more easily affected by the Yangtze River than that of Zhejiang. Especially in the counties on both sides of the Yangtze River, this degree of influence is more obvious.

Massive environmental devastation in China

Budd, 10-10, 22, Adrian Budd teaches politics at London South Bank University, where he is active in the University and College Union. He is currently writing a book about China., Internaitonal Socialism, China’s environmental catastrophe,

In 2017, Xi Jinping, China’s president, spoke of developing the country into an “ecological civilisation”. China has signed all the usual international environment and climate agreements and leads the world in key technology fields, including renewable energy and electric vehicles. In this context, a book by an ecosocialist, and member of the anticapitalist System Change not Climate Change network, that mobilises a Marxist mode of production approach to explore the devastation of China’s environment is of great importance. Unlike some on the left, Smith does not see China as a more ecologically sustainable alternative to Western capitalism. Rather, he views the Chinese model as an ecological disaster for both China and the rest of the world. Devastation The first half of Smith’s book provides a detailed account of the environmental devastation that four decades of economic growth have brought to China’s air, land and inland waters as well as the consequences for human health.1 Toxic waste has poisoned rivers and lakes; many of China’s rivers are so badly contaminated that the water is unsafe for human consumption. Agricultural land is also poisoned; in 2013, the Chinese central government admitted that “three million hectares of farmland, an area the size of Belgium, was ‘too toxic to farm’ because of the overapplication of fertilisers and pesticides, irrigation with toxic industrial wastewater, and the dumping of toxic waste on fields”.2 China’s mega-rich often avoid food produced inside the country. The consequences of environmental damage are not limited to China since its carbon dioxide emissions—similar in scale to those of the next five largest emitters combined (the United States, India, Russia, Japan and Germany)—contribute to global warming and pose a threat to the entire planet. Some who defend China point out that, although its carbon dioxide emissions are now twice those of the US, its per capita emissions are far lower because its population is nearly five times larger. However, China’s population is only two-thirds the combined total of the next five largest emitters, and its national income is only one-third as large. Thus, China’s emissions per capita and per unit of output are of huge concern. Furthermore, the argument that Western states have contributed more than China to historical emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is, on current trends, unlikely to remain true beyond 2040. Smith paints a picture of environmental devastation in every area of human activity in China. There is colossal waste in the form of unnecessary infrastructure (such as underused motorways and rail networks), ghost cities, and shoddy construction (and often premature collapse) of bridges and buildings. All this uses vast quantities of often poor quality cement, the production of which has an immense carbon footprint. As environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has pointed out, China poured more cement between 2009 and 2011 than the US poured in the entire 20th century.3 Urban air quality has been shockingly poor for two decades, in large part due to the generation of electricity from coal. China accounts for over half of global coal output and is currently engaged in a building frenzy aimed at increasing the number of coal-fired power stations. The cost to the urban population comes in the shape of respiratory diseases, including cancers. Lax environmental standards more generally entail the blighting, and loss, of lives, with industrial accidents taking place on a colossal scale. The Chinese state’s promotion of both renewable energy sources and the production of new technologies such as electric and hybrid vehicles over these past two decades has reinforced the view of some on the international left that China’s “socialism” is superior to Western capitalism. According to the editors of the left-wing US journal Monthly Review, China leads the world in the development and implementation of solar and wind energy, with resp0nsibility for “one out of every three of the world’s solar panels and wind turbines, nearly half of all the electric passenger vehicles, some 98 percent of electric buses, and 99 percent of all electric two wheelers”.4 They also highlight China’s “world-record reductions in air pollution” and rapid improvements in water quality. These developments flow less from Xi’s commitment to an “ecological civilisation” than the needs of China’s employers for healthy workers and, in the longer term, the state’s drive for global leadership in strategically important technology sectors as well as its desire to maintain exports. In any case, such has been the scale of the increase in energy usage that even a rise in the proportion of renewables used by China following the 2005 Renewable Energy Law (and later revisions) has not stopped carbon emissions climbing. Moreover, solar and wind farms are often built to attract central funds, strengthening local authorities’ rivalries with each other and their interdependent relationships with local private capitals. Their output is frequently not connected to the national grid, and local party leaders and managers of state-owned enterprises prefer the reliability of local coal-fired power production.5 This, in turn, maintains local employment. Even in Xinjiang, China’s wind-power capital, most electricity comes from coal-fired power stations.6 There are similar problems with China’s transportation system. At the same time that many of the world’s city authorities are promoting cycling and public transport, China’s has ripped up the old bus and cycle model. The cars produced as part of the promotion of domestic consumption, even if they were all electric vehicles, have large carbon footprints and also require electricity, often produced from fossil fuels, to power them. From a carbon footprint perspective running older cars into the ground is usually preferable to their early replacement by electric cars. Smith concludes his analysis of Chinese power generation by arguing that, far from replacing fossil fuels with renewables, China is “building more capacity for both”. How, though, does he explain his argument that it is “by far the leading driver of global climate collapse”?7 Drivers China’s staggering carbon dioxide emissions are propelled by what Smith calls “hyper-growth drivers”. He identifies three of these drivers: maximising economic growth and self-sufficient industrialisation; maximising employment generation; and maximising consumption and consumerism. These express the specifics of China’s history and politics, the party-state’s attempts to moderate external dependencies (for instance, on export markets) and its search for continued legitimacy (for instance, by reducing levels of absolute poverty and increasing employment and living standards). They also reflect the structure of the party-state and the relations between the local and the national levels of the bureaucracy, whose environmentally destructive policies and actions cannot easily be checked for fear of choking off the growth upon which legitimacy depends. As elsewhere in the book, Smith’s two central explanatory chapters (five and six) contain much interesting detail, particularly on intra-bureaucratic relations and the mobilisation of networks of social connections (“guanxi”) to achieve and maintain power. However, a key theoretical weakness lies in Smith’s argument that the hyper-growth drivers are “if anything, more powerful and more ecosuicidal than those of ‘normal’ capitalism in the West”.8 “Normal capitalism”, Smith argues, in which the drive for profit is paramount, has an automatic mechanism that limits environmental destruction: when profits decline, growth slows or reverses and ecological destruction is moderated. Smith claims that, unbounded by profit maximisation, China’s “bureaucratic collectivist” ruling class is driven by a different logic: “maintaining the security, power, and wealth of the party bureaucracy”. In this system, “Central planning replaces market competition’s role in shaping economic development”.9 Thus, in Smith’s view, and contrary to most Marxist environmental analysis, profits are less the source of the problem of environmental degradation than a solution to it. Smith is aware of China’s rivalry with other capitalist powers, which flows from its position as part of a global mode of production. Yet, this rivalry is not a central feature of his thinking, which therefore substitutes a comparative analysis of the features of Chinese and Western capitalism for a dialectical account of capitalism as a differentiated, but integrated, whole. Moroever, in arriving at his rather underexplored conception of China as “the marriage of capitalism and Stalinist-Maoist bureaucratic-collectivism”, he errs at times towards a view that the West is a better model.10 China has, he says, “created a diabolically ruinous hybrid economic system that is ravaging its environment, destroying the health of its people, driving the country to ecological collapse and threatening the whole planet”.11 The problem of isolating China as a national system in this way is that it understates the mutual relationships between China and the rest of the world, which have shaped both. China’s articulation with Western capital over recent decades was not just a matter of grafting Western capitalism onto a China that remained otherwise Maoist and centrally planned. Instead, it was a process of mutual transformation. Benefitting from weak environmental regulation and a benign cost environment provided by China’s party-state, Western firms shifted parts of their production processes to China. In particular, China “attracted many of the world’s dirtiest and least sustainable industries which, facing increasingly tough environmental restrictions at home in the US and Europe, relocated to China after 1980”.12 Despite the specifically Chinese interests served by this process, China’s party-state can in an important sense be regarded as an enabler of the environmental degradation perpetrated by Western firms. What is to be done? If we recognise China as one specific state-capitalist component of a global capitalist whole, we must question Smith’s claim that China is the prime driver of the developing climate catastrophe. Instead, it is capitalist competition and inter-imperialist rivalry that are driving the world along the road towards devastation. Nevertheless, Smith’s critics are mistaken in arguing that he simply favours Western capitalism. Despite the occasional nod in this direction and the theoretical weakness that underlies it, he concludes that “capitalism, democratic capitalism, or even ‘green capitalism’, is no solution for China’s environmental crisis… No amount of tinkering with the market can brake the drive to global environmental and ecological collapse”.13 According to Smith, both “normal” capitalism and China’s “bureaucratic collectivist” system are “unsustainable and suicidal”. The first step in changing them is to recognise that “the only way to prevent runaway global warming is to slam the brakes on economic growth, shut down entire swathes of useless, superfluous, harmful and destructive industries, and replace these political and economic systems with an ecosocialist world economy based on public ownership of most means of production, democratically planned production for need, and democratic management of the economy and society”.14 Recognition must lead to action. Smith ends by highlighting recent protests in China, sometimes involving thousands of people, over environmental issues such as pollution and the building of new coal-fired power stations. Allied to workers’ strikes, these protests carry the seed, Smith argues, for a new Chinese revolution. The prospects for this are currently remote, but building mass action today in preparation for radical change tomorrow is a far better starting point than placing our faith in President Xi and the Chinese state to build an ecological civilisation.

High air pollution in China kills

Business Wire, 9-30, 22, AP Asia Pacific Air Treatment Market Report 2022-2028: Burgeoning Incidents of Chronic Health Issues due to Air Pollution Driving Growth –,

The “Asia Pacific Air Treatment Market Forecast to 2028 – COVID-19 Impact and Regional Analysis By Type and Application” report has been added to’s offering. The air treatment market in Asia Pacific is expected to grow from US$1,964.85 million in 2021 to US$2,822.13 million by 2028; it is estimated to register a CAGR of 5.3% from 2021 to 2028.Air pollution is a major cause of morbidity and mortality across the region. China is the world’s fastest-growing and largest developing country, and it reports one of the highest air pollution-related mortality rates in the world due to the worsening air pollution levels. In 2019, ambient particulate matter pollution was ranked as the fourth-leading cause of the loss of years of life among people in China. As a result, the necessity for air treatment has been a key focus of governments worldwide, contributing to the air treatment market expansion. There is substantial epidemiological evidence that air pollution is harmful to human health and is linked to respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

China’s air pollution is decreasing now

Alvin Lin, 10-10, 22, Shift to clean energy is conducive to high-quality growth,

A vast expanse of solar panels shadows the surface of a semi-desert in Northwest China’s Qinghai province, turning it into a photovoltaic park. [Photo provided to] After a decade of intensive efforts to better control air pollution and facilitate the economy’s shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, the city of Beijing met the national air quality standard for the first time last year. The annual average level of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, fell to 33 micrograms per cubic meter — below the nationally set level of 35 micrograms/cu m and about half of that a decade ago. As a result, in 2021 Beijing residents enjoyed four more months of blue skies than 2013. That many other parts of China have also witnessed such remarkable improvement in air quality over the past decade shows China’s sustained efforts to transition its energy structure to clean energy and pursue higher-quality growth have been bearing fruit. China has scaled up its clean energy sector, including solar and wind power, to replace the use of coal and oil, creating millions of jobs in the green energy sector in the process. Starting with the promulgation of the Renewable Energy Law in 2005, which institutionalized the policies to support renewable energy development, including a feed-in tariff that increased the tariff for renewable energy and led to the rapid growth of the wind and solar power industries, China has taken a raft of measures to facilitate the transition to clean energy. In particular, the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) period saw a strong push toward greater energy efficiency in industry, buildings and transportation. These efforts gained greater urgency a decade ago, as the government sought to tackle severe air pollution across the country through the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan of 2013, which vowed to reduce the share of coal in the total energy mix to less than 65 percent by 2017 and drastically reduce the use of coal in provinces and regions with high levels of air pollution. The Action Plan also strengthened air pollution control and improved law enforcement in key polluting sectors such as power generation, heavy industry and automobiles. High energy-intensive and high-emissions industries were especially targeted, with the government seeking to close down highly polluting enterprises and requiring other enterprises to improve their energy efficiency and strictly implement pollution control norms. In rural areas, the government supported a program to replace coal with gas and electricity for heating in households and small industries. It has also helped install solar photovoltaic panels for generating electricity in villages as part of the poverty alleviation program. As a result of these efforts, China’s solar power — as well as wind power — industry has become the largest in the world and its energy structure has begun shifting toward clean energy. For example, the share of coal in primary energy consumption fell from 68.5 percent in 2012 to 56.0 percent in 2021, and coal is likely to make up less than half of the total energy consumption by the middle of this decade. On the other hand, the share of non-fossil energy — wind, solar, as well as hydro, biomass and nuclear power — in primary energy consumption increased from 9.7 percent in 2012 to 16.6 percent in 2021, while the share of wind and solar power in the energy mix increased from just 2.1 percent to 11.7 percent in 2021. In fact, wind and solar power are now competitive on a cost-per-kilowatt-hour basis with coal-fired power, and energy storage is set to grow rapidly during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. China’s progress in clean energy has laid a solid foundation for pursuing the climate goals of peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

Air pollution causes disease and death

News Gram, 10-12, 22, Air pollution causes fatal health risks other than respiratory illnesses,

From dementia to altering brain structure in kids, from sudden heart attacks to autism risk — the health impact of long-term exposure to air pollution is not just respiratory illnesses, as several new studies have documented this year alone. These new investigations raise a fresh alarm for the governments and agencies in India to fast-track their efforts to safeguard the population from air pollution. Exposure to above-average levels of outdoor air pollution increases the risk of death by 20 percent, and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 17 percent, according to a team of researchers, including one of Indian origin. The study, published in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’ in June, showed that using wood or kerosene-burning stoves, not properly ventilated through a chimney, to cook food or heat the home also increases the overall risk of death (by 23 percent and 9 percent, respectively) and cardiovascular death risk (by 36 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Representative Image Environmentalists fear India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ on verge of becoming lung disease capital “Our study highlights the role that key environmental factors of indoor/outdoor air pollution, access to modern health services, and proximity to noisy, polluted roadways play in all causes of death and deaths from cardiovascular disease in particular.” Researcher Rajesh Vedanthan, NYU Langone Health In a first-of-its-kind study, published in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Environmental Pollution’ in September, researchers linked exposure to air pollutants like particulate matter PM2.5 — particularly in the first five years of life starting from the womb — and alterations in the brain structure that may put children at psychiatric and cognitive disorder risks later in life. The study, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), found an association in children aged 9-12, between exposure to air pollutants in the womb and during the first 8.5 years of life and alterations in white matter structural connectivity in the brain. Abnormal white matter microstructure has been associated with psychiatric disorders (depressive symptoms, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorders). In April, China-based researchers claimed that exposure to air pollutants — even at levels below World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines — may trigger a heart attack within an hour. The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal ‘Circulation’, found exposure to any level of four common air pollutants — fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide — could quickly trigger the onset of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). ACS is an umbrella term describing any situation in which blood supplied to the heart muscle is blocked, such as in a heart attack or unstable angina, or chest pain caused by blood clots that temporarily block an artery. “The adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution have been well documented. But we were still surprised at the very prompt effects,” said Haidong Kan, professor at the School of Public Health at Fudan University in Shanghai. “Another surprise was the non-threshold effects of air pollution. Any concentration of air pollutants may have the potential to trigger the onset of a heart attack,” Kan added. According to UK-based researchers, air pollution is likely to increase the risk of developing dementia. The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants in the UK published its findings in July this year, after reviewing almost 70 studies that analyzed how exposure to emissions affects the brain over time. The 291-page report concluded that air pollution is likely to increase the risk of accelerated “cognitive decline” and of “developing dementia” in elderly people. Experts believe this is due to the impact of pollutants entering the circulatory system, affecting blood flow to the brain. Last month, another study found that the impact of breathing diesel exhaust fumes may be more severe for women than men. Hemshekhar Mahadevappa and Neeloffer Mookherjee from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, looked for changes in people’s blood brought about by exposure to diesel exhaust. In both females and males, they found changes in components of the blood related to inflammation, infection, and cardiovascular disease, but they found more changes in females than males. “These are preliminary findings, however, they show that exposure to diesel exhaust has different effects in female bodies compared to male and that could indicate that air pollution is more dangerous for females than males.” Neeloffer Mookherjee from the University of Manitoba This is important as respiratory diseases such as asthma are known to affect females and males differently, with females more likely to suffer severe asthma that does not respond to treatments. (KB/IANS)

China has already solved extreme poverty

Agence France Presse, 10-6, 22,, Poverty, climate, space: China’s progress in 10 years under Xi,

China’s Communist Party prides itself on being “at the service of the people”, so Beijing’s announcement in 2020 that it had brought an end to extreme poverty was hailed as a critical milestone. People’s living conditions, their livestock and access to education were among the factors assessed by officials on door-to-door visits. The government said it had invested 1.6 trillion yuan ($230 billion) between 2013 and 2021 to improve living standards — for example by building roads, houses and infrastructure. Millions of rural households have been relocated to villages with better economic opportunities. A year after Xi became leader, 82 million Chinese people lived in extreme poverty, according to World Bank data. By 2019, the figure was six million. However, Xi warned in 2020: “The task of consolidating and expanding the achievements of poverty alleviation remains difficult.”

China air pollution has fallen

Agence France Presse, 10-6, 22,, Poverty, climate, space: China’s progress in 10 years under Xi,

Beijing signed the Paris climate agreement in 2016, and in 2020 Xi pledged his country would reach its peak carbon emissions by 2030, and aim for carbon neutrality by 2060. Environment groups have called on China — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — to act faster, saying that otherwise meeting the Paris agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is not possible. After turning a blind eye to China’s choking cities for decades, the environment ministry started to publish more comprehensive data on air pollution in 2012. The concentration of very fine and dangerous particles in the air fell by 34.8 percent between 2015 and 2021, according to the ministry.

China is a leading methane emitter and has not taken action to reduce emissions due to confficts with the US over Taiwan

Catherine Early, October 4, 2022, Methane, a threat and an opportunity,

Until relatively recently, the focus of climate change mitigation has overwhelmingly been on carbon dioxide. But awareness of another greenhouse gas has increasingly come to the fore, one which poses both huge threats and opportunities in the fight against climate change. Methane matters because over a 20-year period it is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. Concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled since pre-industrial times, and are increasing faster now than at any time since the 1980s. In fact, methane emissions account for around one-third of net warming to date. Methane also contributes to ground-level ozone, which is a dangerous air pollutant blamed for half a million premature deaths a year globally, and even suppresses growth of crops and vegetation. However, because methane only lives in the atmosphere for a decade or so, cutting emissions can reduce its temperature contribution in a rapid timeframe. This is in contrast to CO2, which remains in the atmosphere for 300–1,000 years. This is where the massive opportunity comes in – action taken now can quickly reduce atmospheric concentrations and therefore also the rate of overall warming. Scientists and campaigners now see methane mitigation as one of the best chances to limit warming this decade. Some, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), argue that achieving the global target to keep temperature rise within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels at a reasonable cost will be impossible without reducing methane emissions by 40–45% by 2030. Methane emission reductions could prevent 0.3C temperature rise by the 2040s, UNEP estimates. The lowest hanging fruit is the fossil fuel sector Methane is emitted naturally from sources such as wetlands and wild animals. The vast majority of human-caused emissions comes from three sectors: fossil fuels, agriculture and waste. Oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution accounts for 23%, while coal mining is responsible for a further 12%. Landfills and wastewater comprise around 20%. In agriculture, emissions from manure and enteric fermentation from livestock represent roughly 32%, and rice cultivation 8%. Experts are adamant that the knowledge and technology needed to curb methane already exists, and that much of it is low or negative cost. For example, in the waste sector, food and animal waste can be turned into energy, while methane at landfill sites can be converted into natural gas. As much as 60% of measures targeted at the waste sector have either negative or low cost. Agriculture is more complex. Rice cultivation is a large source of methane, but can be reduced with no loss of yield by limiting the flooding of paddies. However, the potential to cut emissions from livestock is less certain, as it relies more on behavioural changes such as a reduction in meat consumption, according to UNEP. A cattle ranch in the Brazilian Amazon. Livestock farming is responsible for about a third of human-caused global methane emissions. (Image: Alamy) The lowest hanging fruit is the fossil fuel sector. Not only are the majority of necessary measures low or negative cost, but implementing them could also bring the sector significant profits through the resulting increase in gas available to be sold, bringing an energy security incentive to act on methane emissions. In fact, if countries that currently export natural gas to the EU were to eliminate non-emergency “flaring” – the burning of waste gas during fossil fuel mining – and reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations, gas supply equivalent to almost one-third of Russian gas exports to the EU in 2021 could be made available, the International Energy Agency (IEA) calculated. Global Methane Pledge Methane reduction was brought firmly into the spotlight at the UN’s COP26 climate negotiations in November 2021 when the Global Methane Pledge was officially launched by US president Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. More than 120 countries representing more than half of global methane emissions from human activities are now signed up to the pledge, which commits them to slash their methane emissions by 30% by 2030, and agree to stronger reporting standards. While signatories can reduce emissions from any source, the pledge is prioritising the fossil fuel sector. In June, the EU and US announced the “energy pathway” extension to the pledge with nine other inaugural members, under which “routine flaring” should be ended by 2030. coal mining machinery working in an open pit coal mine in Ejin Horo Banner, Ordos city, Inner Mongolia, China. RECOMMENDED How will China control its methane emissions? The pledge has done much to raise the profile of methane cuts in the fight against climate change, according to experts. As with all political commitments, it needs to be implemented, but it gives agency to those pushing for action from governments and companies operating in the jurisdictions that have signed it, says Manfredi Caltagirone, who leads UNEP’s work on methane emissions in the energy sector, and is acting head of the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO). Felicia Ruiz, director of international methane partnerships and outreach at the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), a US NGO which has been pushing for methane emission cuts for more than 20 years, says: “I’ve definitely seen a lot of change, and world leaders are finally paying attention. The pledge has given the political space for all of these countries to come together to make truly significant progress.” However, much more needs to be done, she says, including signatories developing national methane action plans that include tangible reduction policies drawn up ahead of the COP27 climate negotiations in November. The pledge also needs to increase the number of countries signed up, she says. Some of the world’s largest emitters of methane – including China, Russia and Australia – have not signed. “It really is a collective effort and the more countries we can get to join this initiative, the stronger it will be,” she adds. Marcelo Mena, chief executive of the Global Methane Hub, an alliance of more than 20 philanthropies and organisations with a goal to reduce global methane emissions by more than 30% by the year 2030, points out that China has a bilateral agreement with the US that includes action on methane. However, cooperation has been frozen since August due to disagreement between the two over Taiwan. India is also not a signatory to the pledge, but is undertaking significant work to divert organic waste from landfill, and reducing methane from the dairy sector, Mena says. “The pledge is an important signal, but what matters more is actual emissions reduction,” he says. The US has announced plans to slash methane emissions from oil and gas extraction and gas distribution infrastructure, largely through new rules. Its Inflation Reduction Act, which was agreed in August, will establish a fee on gas wasted to the atmosphere such as through flaring, creating an incentive for operators to reduce their methane emissions earlier than mandated by upcoming new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The European Commission meanwhile published its methane strategy in 2020, covering action in the energy, agriculture and waste sectors. Last year, it announced further proposals on the fossil fuel and biomethane sectors, including obligatory standards of methane emissions measuring, reporting and verification across the EU, and leak detection and repair, and a ban on venting and routine flaring. However, the commission’s proposals have been criticised for being weak on methane emissions from imported fossil fuels. Though the commission has outlined measures on transparency and visibility of such emissions, and leaves open the possibility for future action on them, it should fully address them in the legislation, according to CATF. The EU’s methane emissions from imported oil and gas in 2020 was 10 million tonnes. Taken together with the methane emissions within the EU that year, the EU’s total responsible methane emissions in the oil and gas sector was 14 million tonnes, according to the International Energy Agency’s Global Methane Tracker. Data gap One problem that has plagued efforts to reduce methane is out-of-date or non-transparent data from both governments and companies on the source and quantity of emissions, which are often based on estimates rather than actual measurements. An increasing body of research has highlighted data discrepancies in methane emissions reported by governments and industry. These include a finding by US scientists that actual emissions from the country’s oil and gas supply chain were approximately 60% higher than those reported by the government. Research by the Clean Air Task Force found more than 450 sources of methane across 12 different EU countries, where previously policymakers and industry denied there was a problem. And earlier this year, the IEA’s methane tracker revealed that global methane emissions from the energy sector are about 70% greater than the amount national governments have officially reported. However, hope is high that this situation could soon be turned around. Methane can be seen from space, meaning that satellites can be used to detect and quantify emissions, from major leaks over a large area, to small leaks at the facility level.

Infrared imaging of methane emissions at the Elk Hills oil and gas field in southern California (Source: Carbon Mapper, CC BY-SA 4.0) New satellites with higher resolution, greater coverage and more sensitive detection thresholds are being developed, and multiple projects are about to become operational. These include the NGO the Environmental Defense Fund’s MethaneSAT, which will detect both concentrated point sources and sources of emissions over a wider area to quantify total emissions; earth observation company Planet’s Carbon Mapper which will help identify methane “super-emitters”; and a $100 million methane satellite monitoring project launched by the US state of California. Information from all these initiatives will be brought together on the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) platform, launched by UNEP. Data reported by oil and gas companies signed up to the OGMP 2.0 reporting framework run by UNEP – which represents 30% of global production – will also be available on the platform. Making methane visible For the first time, validated, reliable and measurement-based data on the sources and quantities of emissions will be publicly available to companies, governments, investors, campaign groups and local communities. “The idea is for this to be a ‘system of systems’, so it relies on the integration of the data rather than a specific satellite. Each of the measurements at source level gives us a piece of the larger picture – the objective of IMEO is to bring these pieces together to make the whole visible,” explains Caltagirone. The CATF is enthusiastic about the new data, says Ruiz. “Actual emissions information will help all of us get a better handle on mitigation. It’s a cliché, but it’s really hard to mitigate what you can’t measure,” she says. A couple of years ago, no one talked about methane, and now we’ll be able to click on a website and see it from space Marcelo Mena, Global Methane Hub “The general public will have a much better understanding of emissions in their communities, especially those who live near oil and gas facilities. It will help improve overall industry accountability, because it will be hard to hide from the fact that these emissions are everywhere,” she adds. Marcelo Mena is also excited about the possibilities. “A couple of years ago, no one talked about methane, and now we’ll be able to click on a website and see it from space.” His organisation plans to use the information to force methane-emitting companies to change, either through pressure from communities affected by local fossil fuel plants or landfill sites, or from investors seeking disclosure on greenhouse gases. Whether these multiple efforts are enough to slash methane in the timeframe needed remains to be seen. Some are sceptical. Lauren Pagel, policy director at US campaign group Earthworks points to various loopholes in US regulation. These include the fact that national methane emission standards for oil and gas cover new facilities only, when most of the pollution comes from existing plants, and that implementation of the rules requires manpower and resources that are lacking nationwide. Furthermore, its own research using optical gas imaging cameras has found that technologies designed to control emissions are not effective. “There’s no such thing as pollution-free oil and gas extraction, even with the best rules in place,” she says. However, Mena is optimistic, since so many emission measures are low or negative cost, and also help make countries more resilient, for example, reducing food waste and promoting energy security. Ruiz sees much promise in the many voluntary initiatives and the power of new data, while stressing that policies which mandate methane reduction will also be needed. She says: “There’s a lot of work to be done, and we have to do it, or we’re going to start hitting irreversible climate tipping points. But I have a lot of hope that it’s not just the flavour of the day, but a true movement, and world leaders are taking notice.”

No sustainable economic growth without environmental protection

Evelyn Chang, 10-3, 22, China’s climate push could spawn new global players, even if Beijing falls short on its pledge,

Even if the carbon directives come from the top leadership, Combs said there’s still tension between short-term and longer-term economic interests that will likely last through the coming decade.

Reducing that tension will help China reduce carbon emissions, he said. “But China’s leaders also recognize that, in the long term, China’s development will not be economically sustainable – and hence politically and socially sustainable – until it is also environmentally so.”

It would cost $120 trillion for China to be carbon neutral

Qian Hang, Partner, Financial Services, Oliver Wyman, July 1, 2022, Making net-zero happen: How China can finance its transition,

China’s leadership in clean energy and its 2060 carbon neutrality target demonstrate its commitment to net-zero. At the core of this transition is the need to finance new technologies — the financial sector must unlock nearly CNY 140 trillion ($22 trillion) across carbon-heavy industries for the 2020-60 period. The World Economic Forum in partnership with Oliver Wyman has published a report covering the mobility, construction, real estate and steel industries, as well as the financial services, highlighting the most promising technologies. Since 2006, China has been the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2). The 11 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide it released in 2020 accounted for about 30% of global emissions that year. China is also an active participant in the global discussions on how to curb climate change. The country’s latest five-year plan, covering 2021-2025, placed decarbonization and the “construction of a green development engine” at the center of policymaking. To achieve its ambitious carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals, China needs to close an annual funding gap of about RMB1.1 trillion ($170 billion). It can only do so if it manages to develop far more sophisticated green financing schemes. In China, bank lending is the backbone of corporate finance. Due to their risk-averse nature, banks tend to target large state-owned and private enterprises, meaning SMEs (small, medium enterprises) miss out on the funding — despite accounting for 65% of the country’s CO2 emissions. Public funding must play a more significant role in China to close the substantial gap in net-zero financing.

China’s government needs to mandate carbon reduction

Qian Hang, Partner, Financial Services, Oliver Wyman, July 1, 2022, Making net-zero happen: How China can finance its transition,

Due to the scale of change needed, China’s major carbon-emitting sectors won’t be able to complete their transition journeys themselves successfully. They need support from the government and financing providers. They also need active collaboration from firms in their value chain. Policy support for net-zero Top-down support led by the Chinese government is crucial given its outsized role vis-a-vis Western economic models. The support can be both financial and non-financial: tax incentives are particularly powerful tools for accelerating the transition similar to carbon taxes in Europe. Underpinning these efforts should be an ongoing effort to develop and enforce consistent and unified rules and regulations across regions and sizes of companies.

COVID-19 and real estate collapse threaten China’s economy

Stella Yifan Xi, 9-30, 22, WSJ, China’s Service Sector Slows in Latest Economic Warning Sign,

HONG KONG—Chinese economic activity remained feeble in September, with the services sector slipping into contraction, offering new evidence of the damage that Beijing’s Covid-prevention measures and a deepening real estate slide are inflicting on the country’s economy. Activity in the services sector, which includes the retail, catering and transport industries, was hammered as authorities across China tightened Covid-19 restrictions ahead of a key political gathering in October. A subindex measuring the services sector fell to 48.9 in September from 51.9 the previous month, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported Friday. The poor performance in the services sector dragged the broader official nonmanufacturing purchasing managers index down to 50.6 in September, from 52.6. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Weakening momentum in the services sector underscores the limits to Beijing’s campaign to spur domestic demand as youth unemployment hovers near historic levels, income growth stalls and the real-estate market remains depressed. Home sales in China continued to slide on a yearly basis in September, despite efforts by central and local governments to lower purchase barriers for potential home buyers and help struggling developers complete construction of their presold building projects. Sales at the country’s 100 largest property developers fell 25.4% from September 2021 to the equivalent of about $80 billion, according to data released Friday by China Real Estate Information Corp., an industry data provider. That marked a 15th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. Compared with August, sales in September—traditionally a busy month for home sales in China—rose 10%. Moreover, economists warn that China’s strict Covid-19 curbs, which many expect to remain in place through the rest of the year, are likely to keep a lid on any potential rebound. As of Friday, cities under some form of Covid restrictions accounted for 25% of gross domestic product, down from 28% a week earlier, according to Goldman Sachs. The investment bank, along with many of its peers, doesn’t expect China to begin easing Covid restrictions until toward the middle of 2023. Covid-19 lockdowns, corruption crackdowns and more have put China’s economy on a potential crash course. WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains how China’s economic downturn could harm the U.S. and the rest of the world. Illustration: David Fang Spending during a coming weeklong national holiday that begins on Saturday, typically one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, is expected to pale in comparison with the year-earlier level, analysts say, pointing to guidance from public health officials across China urging the public to avoid moving around and reduce infection risks. “We think the economy will continue to struggle over the coming months,” Zichun Huang, an economist at Capital Economics, told clients in a in note Friday. The World Bank, along with many investment banks, have slashed their China growth forecasts this year to 3% or lower—a far cry from Beijing’s official target of about 5.5%. Research firms now anticipate China’s economy to expand by around 4.5% next year, a comedown from earlier forecasts of growth of 5% or higher. The slump in service-sector activity overshadowed a surprise improvement in factory activity, which returned to expansionary territory in September as the impact of a summer power crunch caused by drought and a heat wave dissipated—and as government support measures kicked in. A market in Shenyang, China. The Chinese government’s measures to support the economy have been tepid, economists say. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index ticked up to 50.1 in September from 49.4 the previous month, according to official data. The reading followed two consecutive months of contraction. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a reading of 49.8. Surprising as the outcome was, many economists aren’t holding out hope for a sustained improvement, given cooling global demand for Chinese-made goods as fears of a global recession rise. Separate data released on Friday by Caixin Media Co. and S&P Global, focused on smaller-scale and private-sector manufacturers, pointed to weaker factory activity as new orders contracted for a second straight month. The China Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 48.1 in September from 49.5 a month earlier. Last month, China’s statistics bureau reported a sharp pullback in the export growth rate, to 7.1% in August from a year earlier, the weakest year-over-year gain in four months, as global demand receded and China’s factories wrestled with Covid-related disruptions. A subindex of the official manufacturing PMI tracking new export orders showed overseas demand continuing to weaken in September. The subindex slipped to 47, the lowest level in four months, the data showed. During the first 10 days of September, cargo and container throughput for foreign trade at China’s major ports contracted by around 15% when compared with a year earlier, according to economists at Nomura. A rapid deceleration in export growth could be a “real game-changer” for Beijing policy makers, given the export sector’s status as a central pillar of economic growth since the pandemic first exploded nearly three years ago, Nomura wrote in a report last week. It predicted that a rapid deterioration in exports would compel Beijing to reconsider its Covid-prevention and property-sector policies, or risk letting the economy slip into recession. So far, the government’s measures to support the economy have been tepid and piecemeal, economists say—a contrast to their response during earlier slowdowns. As the outlook worsened during the summer, Beijing lowered interest rates, extended fresh credit to policy banks and cut taxes for small businesses, but otherwise held off on sweeping fiscal stimulus measures aimed at juicing the economy.

COVID-19 restrictions are collapsing China’s economy

Bloomberg News, September 30, 2022, Bloomberg, China’s Covid Rules Wreak Havoc With Holidays in Blow to Economy,

Chinese holidaymakers are bracing for more disruption during a weeklong break as the government tightens controls to contain Covid outbreaks before the Communist Party’s top leaders meet in Beijing for a crucial political meeting. Passenger trips by road are expected to plunge by about 30% from a year ago during the National Day break, according to government data. Prices of air tickets for the period are lower compared to last year and travelers are taking shorter journeys, figures from hotel booking sites show. Cinema box office takings are expected to decline by more than 20%. China Sept. service activity shrank for first time in 4 months amid Covid Also known as the Golden Week, the holiday is typically one of the busiest seasons in the year for shop owners, hotel operators, travel agencies and public transport providers. With holiday spending curbed, consumption will take a knock just as it started to show some signs of a fragile recovery in August. That would further weigh on the outlook for economic growth, which is seen slowing to just 3.4% this year. During September’s Mid-Autumn Festival, tourism revenue fell almost 23% to 28.7 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) from a year earlier. Compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019, revenue was down more than 39%, worse than last year’s 21% drop, official data showed. “I don’t expect the data from the upcoming holiday to be much different from the Mid-Autumn holiday,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management Ltd. “Covid related travel restrictions remain quite tight. All eyes are on the Party Congress.” Stock traders will be watching the spending figures closely to gauge whether the economy is emerging from its trough. The CSI 300 Index has lost more than 14% this quarter, and weaker spending during the holiday may disappoint traders and add to selling pressure. Staycation Doldrums Spending during major holidays in China struggles to recover amid Covid Health authorities across the country have repeatedly called on residents to minimize travel to other cities and reduce unnecessary gatherings. Many universities, including the elite Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing, have shortened the seven-day holiday to just three days, another way of discouraging students from making long-distance travel plans. Scott Wu, a Chengdu native, said the risk of disruption to schooling is the main reason he’s not making any holiday travel plans with his family this year.

Air pollution causes strokes

Jason Arunn Murugesu, 9-28, 22, New Scientist, Air pollution raises our risk of a stroke and its later complications,

Living in a highly polluted area may raise the risk of a stroke and its subsequent complications. Air pollution has been linked to strokes before. Hualiang Lin at Sun Yat-sen University in China and his colleagues wanted to understand the risk among people with no history of stroke. They were also interested in how air pollution may influence any post-stroke complications, such as cardiovascular disease. The team assessed the air pollution exposure of more than 318,000 people living in the UK. This was based on air pollution monitoring carried out by separate researchers between January 2010 and 2011 within 100 square metres of the participants’ homes. The participants, aged 40 to 69 at the start of the research, were taking part in the UK Biobank study. They had no history of a stroke or mini-stroke, defined as a temporary disruption to the brain’s blood supply, ischemic heart disease – cardiovascular complications caused by narrowing of the heart’s arteries – or cancer. Over an average 12-year follow-up period, 5967 of the participants had a stroke, 2985 developed cardiovascular disease and 1020 people died due to any cause. After accounting for other factors that can influence stroke risk, such as physical fitness levels, the researchers found that every 5 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m3) increase in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that the participants were exposed to across a year was linked to a 24 per cent rise in their risk of a stroke. Measuring less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, PM2.5 is primarily released by exhaust pipes. The World Health Organization recommends that our annual PM2.5 exposure shouldn’t exceed 5µg/m3. In the study, the participants who had a stroke had an average annual PM2.5 exposure of 10.03µg/m3, compared with 9.97µg/m3 among those who didn’t have a stroke. “PM2.5 exposure could induce systemic oxidative stress, inflammation, atherosclerosis and elevates the risk of stroke,” says Lin. It is more easily inhaled than other pollutants and can therefore cause more conditions, he says. “These results suggest that efforts to reduce exposures may be most beneficial to primary stroke prevention,” says Lin. Among the participants who had a stroke, every 5µg/m3 increase to their annual nitrogen dioxide exposure was linked to a 4 per cent rise in their risk of cardiovascular disease post-stroke. A statistical analysis suggests this wasn’t a chance finding. Nitrogen dioxide is primarily released from burning fuel. While PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide exposure were linked with a heightened risk of a stroke itself and subsequent cardiovascular disease, respectively, neither increased the odds of a stroke-related death. “This study elegantly confirms the increased risk of stroke due to air pollution in the UK Biobank population study, but interestingly suggests that the impact of air pollution may continue to adversely impact cardiovascular health even after the stroke occurred,” says Steffen Petersen at Queen Mary University of London. “On a personal level, everyone, including stroke patients, may wish to consider personal measures to reduce exposure to air pollution, such as avoiding walking along polluted streets and rather take a less polluted route away from the main roads,” he says.

Air pollution hurts the economy and increases infant death

MARK WAGHORN, ZENGER NEWS ON 9/28/22, Newsweek, How Air Pollution Makes Financial Damage From Climate Change Worse,

Air pollution increases the financial damage of climate change by up to two thirds, according to new research. The study revealed that in some cases, smog raises the social cost of carbon by as much as 66 percent. The measurement is used to help governments determine the benefits of a proposed policy. It includes the effects on human health, economies, and agriculture. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, create potentially new motivations for countries to cut emissions—and to care about others doing the same. Study lead author Dr. Geeta Persad, of the University of Texas at Austin, said: “Carbon dioxide has the same impact on climate no matter who emits it but for these aerosol pollutants, they tend to stay concentrated near where they are emitted, so the effect they have on the climate system is very patchy and very dependent on where they are coming from.” The findings are based on simulations of aerosols across Western Europe, the U.S., Brazil, China, East Africa, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. They are emitted from vehicle exhausts, factories, and power plants. The tiny solid particles and liquid droplets fuel smog. Co-lead author Professor Jennifer Burney, of the University of California, Davis, said: “This research highlights how the harmful effects of our emissions are generally underestimated. CO2 is making the planet warmer, but it also gets emitted with a bunch of other compounds that impact people and plants directly and cause climate changes in their own right.” Aerosols have been linked to a host of illnesses including asthma, bronchitis, and even cancer. When inhaled, they can leak into the bloodstream. This affects the workforce and causes great financial damage. Dr. Persad said: “While we might think about aerosols, which cool the climate, as having the silver lining of counteracting CO2-driven warming, when we look at all these effects in combination, we find that no region experiences overall local benefits or generates overall global benefits by emitting aerosols.” The team used a computer model in which each of the eight regions produced identical aerosol emissions. They analyzed how temperature, precipitation, and surface air quality were affected across the globe. The data was also connected with known relationships with infant mortality, crop productivity, and gross domestic product. The researchers then compared the total societal costs of aerosol-driven impacts against those of co-emitted CO2 in each area to map the combined effects. Previous work has either only estimated the air quality impacts of aerosols or didn’t consider their diverse global climate effects. Emissions from some regions produce climate and air quality effects that range from more than 2-10 times as strong as others. Social costs sometimes affect neighboring regions more than where the aerosols originate. For example, in Europe, local emissions result in four times as many infant deaths outside as within. But they are always bad for both the emitter and the planet overall. Adding aerosol costs to CO2 costs could double China’s incentive to mitigate emissions, for instance. And it switches the impact of local emissions in Europe from a net local benefit to a cost. The study also shows emerging economies, like East African nations and India, might be motivated to collaborate on emission cuts since they are strongly impacted by each other. The framework can also be applied to maximize societal benefits from current mitigation strategies being considered by policymakers. This includes the ‘fair-share’ approach laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement in which all countries target the same per-capita CO2 emissions. The researchers found the approach, while beneficial for climate stability, does not improve the mortality and crop impacts from combined aerosol and CO2 emissions. It focuses on mitigation in regions that already have fairly low aerosol impacts, like the U.S. and Europe. Professor Burney added: “By expanding societal cost calculations to include geographically resolved societal impacts of co-emitted aerosols, we are showing the incentive for individual countries to mitigate and collaborate on mitigation is much higher than if we only think about greenhouse gases.”

A clean environment is a human right

Mingzhe, 8-26, 22, Zhu Mingzhe, Environmental rights are now human rights. What does this mean for climate litigation?,

Zhu Mingzhe is a senior researcher at the University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the links between political authority, society, and nature in the Anthropocene, with particular attention to challenging state violence and capitalism, In July, the UN General Assembly passed a historic resolution, 161 for and 8 abstaining, declaring the right to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment to be a universal human right. António Guterres, UN secretary-general, commented that the decision will “help States accelerate the implementation of their environmental and human rights obligations and commitments.” The origins of the declaration can be traced back 50 years, to the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, the first international conference to focus on the environment. The resulting Stockholm Declaration referred to “an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being” as a fundamental human right. Five decades later, the UN General Assembly’s vote shows that right is now commonly recognised. It lays a foundation for the signing of more climate agreements, for more states to include environmental rights in their constitutions, and for transformative action on the climate. It may also result in more human rights arguments being made in the growing stream of climate litigation cases being heard in courts worldwide. The ‘rights turn’ Attempts to use human rights to promote climate change polices have been ongoing for years. In 2006, the Inuit peoples of the Arctic petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, complaining that greenhouse gas emissions from the US were harming their environment and culture. The commission found there was not enough evidence to prove the harms, and rejected the petition. In 2009, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted to the UN Human Rights Council a report on the relationship between the environment and human rights. It found that climate change would affect the right to life, the right to adequate food, the right to water, the right to health, the right to adequate housing, and the right to self-determination. The preface to the Paris Agreement, concluded in 2016, included language on climate change and human rights: “Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.” It was against this background that a wave of climate litigation cases based on human rights issues arose. Academics have referred to this as a “rights turn”. Rights-based litigation is not restricted to specific infringements of the rights of certain individuals or groups. It takes a more general view. There is an increasing number of attempts to protect the rights of the young or even of future generations, because, as is clear to see, it is they who will deal with the consequences of climate disaster.

Climate/environment rights are useless

Mingzhe, 8-26, 22, Zhu Mingzhe, Environmental rights are now human rights. What does this mean for climate litigation?,

Globally, not many cases have successfully taken the human rights approach. This is because there are limitations to what the judicial authorities can do, and these cases are very reliant on the legal culture in place. So far, the biggest obstacle to success has been strict boundaries between judicial, legislative and executive rights. Even in Europe, where the approach has seen more success, many courts are unwilling to make direct changes to the law, or even to state that there are gaps to be filled. In the US, the so-called “political question doctrine” means matters of public policy cannot be handled in court, and so the division of powers becomes an even greater obstacle. In City of Oakland v. BP P.L.C, the court found that the link between fossil fuels and climate change was proven. But, it went on: “Questions of how to appropriately balance these worldwide negatives against the worldwide positives of the energy itself, and of how to allocate the pluses and minuses among the nations of the world, demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate.” The judiciary’s hesitancy in tackling climate change is the main obstacle to using litigation to further climate policy. Another issue is that the judiciary is unable to mobilise the bureaucracy, police or even the army to implement better climate measures. Even if a case is won and the court rules the government should do more on climate change, the government may display a lack of political will and actual action. It may even move in the opposite direction. That means progress in climate litigation does not necessarily mean real progress on the ground. Moreover, using the human rights approach to achieve social and political change will require broad agreement on the importance of those rights within society. Jurisdictions where such cases have been successful are often those where the approach is aligned with an existing discourse on human rights. That is, geographically, a limited area – in effect a few countries in Western Europe and South America. After all, not all legal cultures regard rights as a “trump card”.

No environmental rights protections in China

Mingzhe, 8-26, 22, Zhu Mingzhe, Environmental rights are now human rights. What does this mean for climate litigation?,

China abstained, why? As explained above, the new declaration by the UN General Assembly is a consequence of half a century of development in international law and diplomacy since 1972. The Stockholm conference was highly symbolic for China, as the first UN conference it sent a delegation to after retaking its UN seat in 1971. Tang Ke, the head of the delegation, said at the time that industrial capitalism was the cause of environmental damage. Since then, China has grown to become an important economic power, going from being a proponent of industrialisation and economic growth to vying for leadership of international environmental cooperation. A look at China’s constitution shows a state-led approach. It includes no recognition of environmental rights However, China still opted to abstain from the UN vote, due to its view on the human rights approach. The advantage of the approach is that it provides citizens with leverage to force government’s hand, and puts principles in place which judges can use to create new rules. But a look at China’s constitution shows a state-led approach – it states environmental governance is the duty of the state and includes no recognition of environmental rights. Moreover, while China’s judicial culture does encourage judges to implement policy guidance, it does not promote innovation. Internationally, it is unclear how environmental rights relate to other human rights. And in China, environmental rights are not yet recognised in domestic law. It is therefore no surprise that China chose to abstain. Members of China’s Supreme People’s Court at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. RECOMMENDED How China’s courts implement climate policy On climate change, China has opted for a developmentalist approach, where climate governance is generally the responsibility of government bodies in charge of economic and industrial development. Climate policy is aimed at industrial transitions and should not hamper economic growth. This has led to China developing a “rule by plans” style: there are many policies and plans on the climate but next to no legally binding rules. Also, the administrative litigation law does not allow citizens to bring cases against government bodies due to infringement of rights. This model has of course had a huge impact on emissions, indicating that the rights-based approach is not essential for climate policy to be effective. But it does lack transparency, accountability and public participation. Even if the rights approach comes to dominate climate litigation globally, China’s legal traditions and circumstances mean it is unlikely to follow suit.

China contributes 30 percent to the global economy

Hellenic News, 9-20, 22, , China contributes over 30 pct to world economic growth in 2013-2021

China’s average contribution to global economic growth exceeded 30 percent during the 2013-2021 period, ranking first across the world, a recent report showed. In 2021 alone, China’s economic aggregate accounted for 18.5 percent of the world’s total after currency translation based on average annual exchange rates, the second largest in the world and up 7.2 percentage points from 2012, according to the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an average annual growth rate of 6.6 percent from 2013 to 2021, higher than the growth pace of 2.6 percent for the global economy and 3.7 percent for developing economies. The country’s per capita GDP hit 80,976 yuan (about 11,684 U.S. dollars) last year, surging 69.7 percent from 2012 after deducting the price factor. The report highlighted China’s progress in promoting innovation-driven development in the past ten years. The country rose to 12th on the Global Innovation Index 2021, up from 34th in 2012, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. Over the past decade, China has seen a better economic structure and more coordinated growth, as final consumption expenditure contributed 65.4 percent to the 2021 economic expansion. It is up ten percentage points from 2012, and the added value of the manufacturing sector jumped 74.3 percent during the same period. On the green development front, China’s accumulative afforestation area amounted to approximately 59.44 million hectares from 2013 to 2021. The report also showed that the total value of China’s goods and services trade reached 6.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021, continuing to rank top globally. China has also pursued more inclusive growth, aiming to make achievements that benefit all. From 2013 to 2020, China had lifted 98.99 million rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty, it added. Source: Xinhua

China’s economy collapsing now, threatens the US and global economy

Bill Connerly, 9-1, 22,,

The Chinese economy is faltering. The risk of a real recession looms large, and the most optimistic scenario under current leadership would be slow growth, far slower than in recent decades. China is important to the United States economy. It accounts for about nine percent of all U.S. exports and a much higher share for some western states such as Oregon and Washington. China is also an important trade partner for other countries to which we are closely tied, such as Canada and Japan. More importantly, China supplies American consumers and businesses with many goods at low prices. Sam Walton said that Walmart “helps save people money so they can live better;” China could make the same claim for its U.S. consumers. Supply chains for U.S. manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers use many Chinese products. Signs of Chinese economic weakness dominate recent news reports. Youth unemployment was nearly 20% in July 2022. The purchasing managers index fell in the latest report, Home sales declined 40% from a year ago. GDP rose by just 0.4% over the past four quarters, compared to the national target of 5.5% growth. Is America at risk of the same problems that are weakening China? And if not, how much will we be hurt by their weakness? America has some risk of China’s problems, and a higher probability of mild damage to our economy due simply to their economic decline. China’s tech sector, led by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, showed the world that online payments can be cheap, easy and widespread. Before the world caught up with China, though, Xi imposed controls that limit its tech sector and will likely prevent further innovation. Increased control of the economy comes as excesses in the housing industry wallop the population. Many people bought apartments before they were built, paying mortgages on properties still under construction. When construction slowed or stopped, the buyers lost pride of ownership. China’s bankruptcy law captures the key features of modern Western practices, but one legal expert reported, “The Chinese bankruptcy law in action often changes from case to case and from time to time without sufficient certainty.” Two political scientists summed up the situation: “Xi’s refusal to allow economic logic to drive policy is a considered strategy in service of political and ideological control. Xi never saw economic growth as an imperative the way his predecessors did, but the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the recent growth slowdown accelerated his abandonment of an economics-first governance strategy. Foreign observers and policymakers should not expect Xi to moderate his autocratic demands on the Chinese economy or society in his third term.” With economic growth secondary to political control, China’s consumers and businesses will suffer, at least relative to where they might have been. China’s problems are not entirely foreign to America. Our leaders sometimes save face to the detriment of the public, and at other times claim greater ability to formulate good policy than is warranted. However, our checks and balances make massive blunders far less likely to continue than in a party dictatorship as China has. Business leaders in the United States worry that weakness in China will harm the U.S. economy, a valid concern given our close ties. The magnitude of trade between the two economies is small enough to calm macroeconomic fears. Last year our exports to China of $151 billion amounted to just two-thirds of one percent of our $23 trillion GDP. Lack of growth in China, or even a severe recession, would have too small an impact to notice in the aggregate, though certain companies would be hurt significantly. Businesses that do a large volume of transactions with China, either as buyers or sellers, should consider how the shift to political control of the economy will impact them separately from the size of the Chinese economy. Already American companies that rely on Chinese suppliers are worrying about supply chain snarls from the Zero Covid policy. The potential for war over Taiwan has increased as Xi made clear that politics and control is more important than the economy. Although most businesses that have been buying Chinese products cannot make a sudden change in all of their suppliers, gradual adjustments are already beginning. These purchase reductions will accentuate China’s economic problems.

Climate change in China wrecking the environment and the economy

Michael Page, 8-23, 22, New Scientist, Heatwave in China is the most severe ever recorded in the world,

Low rainfall and record-breaking heat across much of China are having widespread impacts on people, industry and farming. River and reservoir levels have fallen, factories have shut because of electricity shortages and huge areas of crops have been damaged. The situation could have worldwide repercussions, causing further disruption to supply chains and exacerbating the global food crisis. People in large parts of China have been experiencing two months of extreme heat. Hundreds of places have reported temperatures of more than 40°C (104°F), and many records have been broken. Subway stations have set up rest areas where people can recover from the heat. On 18 August, the temperature in Chongqing in Sichuan province reached 45°C (113°F), the highest ever recorded in China outside the desert-dominated region of Xinjiang. On 20 August, the temperature in the city didn’t fall below 34.9°C (94.8°F), the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in China in August. The maximum temperature was 43.7°C (110.7°F). It is the longest and hottest heatwave in China since national records began in 1961. According to weather historian Maximiliano Herrera, who monitors extreme temperatures around the world, it is the most severe heatwave recorded anywhere. “This combines the most extreme intensity with the most extreme length with an incredibly huge area all at the same time,” he says. “There is nothing in world climatic history which is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China.” Together with the extreme heat, low rainfall in parts of China has led to rivers falling to low levels, with 66 drying up completely. In parts of the Yangtze, water levels are the lowest since records began in 1865. In a few places, local water supplies have run out and drinking water has had to be trucked in. On 19 August, China announced a national drought alert for the first time in nine years. Hydroelectricity generation has fallen because of the low water levels. Sichuan has been especially affected because it normally gets 80 per cent of its electricity from hydropower. Thousands of factories in the province have had to cease operations because of electricity shortages amid high demand for air conditioning. Offices and shopping malls were also told to reduce lighting and air conditioning to save power. In Sichuan alone, 47,000 hectares of crops are reported to have been lost and another 433,000 hectares damaged. The agriculture ministry has said it will try to increase rainfall by seeding clouds. It remains scientifically unclear whether cloud seeding makes a significant difference. China is far from the only place affected by drought. Europe is having what may be its worst drought in 500 years. There is also a drought in the Horn of Africa, and across much of the US and Mexico. Lower crop yields in these regions could worsen the global food crisis. Global food prices hit record levels even before Russia invaded Ukraine, and though they have fallen since March, they remain higher than in previous years. However, China has built up large grain reserves in recent years, so it can make up for some shortfall. According to a 2021 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, droughts have been increasing as a result of global warming and will become more frequent and severe as the planet continues to warm.