China led the way in 2010’s record worldwide increase in carbon emissions, Agence France-Presse reported, citing US energy department data. The country’s carbon output from burning fossil fuels rose by 212 million tonnes over 2009 figures, followed by the United States with 59 million tonnes more and India with an additional 48 million tonnes. The global figures represented the biggest-ever annual spike in emissions.
Because China is still rapidly industrialising, it is facing great pressure to meet its emissions-reduction target by 2015, Xinhua quoted a senior official as saying. Gao Shixian, of the energy research institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, said China will require massive energy consumption in the next few years. Its industrialisation, along with increasing urbanisation, relies on heavy industries and energy-consuming products such as cement and steel, he said.
Xinhua also said that the State Council, China’s cabinet, approved a plan this week to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 17% per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) until 2015. The plan maps out precise emissions indicators for local governments.
China’s environmental planning body is seeking to lower the levels of small particulate pollutants in key industrial regions and cities by about 10% by 2015, Xinhua cited sources close to the environmental protection ministry as saying. A new set of air-quality evaluation standards under discussion is likely to include readings of PM2.5, the tiny airborne pollutants that cause haze and can damage the human respiratory system.
Pan Yue, vice-minister at the environmental protection ministry, has taken personal responsibility for the deterioration of the environment, China Daily cited the Beijing Morning Post as reporting. In a brief speech to students at an environment-themed photography exhibition in Beijing, Pan expressed regret about the pollution three times. “We feel ashamed of what we have done and we are trying our best to improve the environment,” he was quoted as saying.
Nine people in Beijing were sentenced to prison terms of one to six years for producing and selling unsafe food in Beijing, according to Xinhua. In two separate cases, those accused were found guilty of repackaging and selling rotten roast ducks.
Environment officials in Shanghai are checking the Changbanggang River for pollution after hundreds of fish were found dead there, Eastday reported. When the fish began floating on the river in the Fengxian district, many people took them home to eat, thinking they were killed by poor weather, the newspaper said. But as more dead fish appeared, concern grew that they had been poisoned, as all were found within two kilometres of a riverside factory.
Chinese-run copper-mining companies in Zambia routinely flout national and international labour laws and regulations designed to protect workers’ safety, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The document draws, in part, on interviews with workers for four Chinese-run copper companies in Zambia, where copper mining is considered the lifeblood of the economy.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
Fear of the distant horrors of climate change isn't enough to drive anything more than just political talk and hand-wringing