Japan announced plans to completely phase out nuclear power by 2039 in a policy turnaround prompted by last year’s Fukushima disaster, the worst nuclear accident in a generation, AFPsaid. Tokyo’s ambitious goal would see the nation permanently shut down the 52 nuclear reactors that once provided the country with 30% of its power and take no steps to build new plants.
South China’s Guangzhou city has introduced license plate auctions and lotteries expected to halve the number of new cars on the streets, the New York Times reported. City official Chen Haotian said the new scheme in the country’s third largest city would limit growth but that it was “definitely worth it” for the sake of better public health.Inspection and Quarantine said.
China has surpassed the US this year to become the number one in the world for installed wind power generating capacity, reports China.org. China's on-grid capacity reached over 50 gigawatts (GW) to date, according to the State Grid Corporation. This year on-grid wind power capacity under State Grid reached 50.26 GW, an annual growth rate of 87 percent for the last six years.
However China, is still heavily dependent on coal. And tragically this week, 19 miners have been killed and dozens more injured in a gas explosion at a coal mine in China’s Sichuan Province - the latest in a long line of mining tragedies in China. Associated Press says work safety rules are often ignored in coal mines, with 1,973 miners being killed in 2011 in coal mine accidents. It is reported that the State Administration of Work Safety has plans to close down more than 600 small coal mines this year, which are considered to be more dangerous than larger mines.
The Tibetan antelope has become China’s symbol of wildlife conservation, according to Alaska Dispatch. The endangered creature has grabbed the attention of China’s still fledgling environmental NGO community, with local government also adopting tougher measures against the illegal poaching of the sought after creature. Since the antelope's population plunged from more than 1 million in the early 1900s to just 70,000 in 1995, its numbers have stabilized and increased to more than 100,000, according to 2009 field estimates by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a US-based NGO. Protection of the creature is now becoming symbolic of China’s growing wildlife conservation.
South China's metropolis Guangzhou will begin a pilot garbage sorting program in September, reports ChinaDaily. As reported in chinadialogue recently, the trial will offer a one-month grace period before imposing fines on people who do not follow the regulation on domestic waste sorting management of the city, according to the Guangzhou City Management Committee.
In Shanghai, an electronic food safety map produced by the city's quality watchdog went online yesterday, reports ECNS. It will provide a way for people to easily check whether local food producers have obtained licenses.
Lastly, Government officials in central China's Hunan Province on Saturday denied claims that children in the area were being used as guinea pigs in US-backed research on the effects of consuming genetically-modified (GM) rice. According to ChinaDaily, the response was prompted by a Greenpeace article saying that the environmental protection group had discovered a study backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture involving feeding genetically modified Golden Rice to a group of 24 children, aged between six and eight, in Hunan.
Scientists have calculated Arctic sea ice to be at its lowest level since records began more than 30 years ago, the BBC said. Nasa satellite measurements showed the extent of sea ice is now 4.1 million square kilometres, compared with the previous low of 4.17 million square kilometres in 2007. As sea ice normally reaches its low point in September, this year’s melt is expected to continue to grow.
Shell revealed plans to spend at least US$1 billion a year exploiting China’s shale-gas resources as part of its strategy to expand into the Chinese energy market, Reuters reported. In March, the firm secured China’s first product-sharing contract for shale gas and hopes to be an early success story in the country’s fast expanding natural-gas sector.
More than 74,000 people living in mountainous areas around Beijing will be moved to “safe” sites where there is no risk of flooding or landslides within five years, the city government said, according to China Daily. The first residents will be resettled in 2013 after a series of evaluations on natural-disaster risk, an unnamed official from the city’s rural affairs commission was quoted as saying. The news comes a month after the heavies rainfall in at least 60 years caused severe flooding in the Chinese capital.
At least 85,000 people in Myanmar have reportedly been forced from their homes by severe monsoon flooding, which has submerged hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice fields, The Guardian reported. Weeks of heavy rain are responsible for the crisis, which has primarily impacted the country’s southern delta region, a government relief official said.
Operations have been suspended at a south China coal plant blamed for the poisoning of nearly 200 children found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood, Shanghai Daily said. Ninety-five of the children were found to have blood lead 4.5 times above the safe level in Xingzi town, Guangzhou province, located one kilometre from the power station.
China has announced plans to subsidise carbon-saving efforts of domestic airlines and plane manufacturers, Shanghai Daily said. The government said it will subsidise up to 60% of total investment in emissions reduction, using fees collected from passengers for the Civil Aviation Development Fund, which is expected to raise 15.4 billion yuan this year.
The carbon storage capacity of protected forests in West Africa has increased despite the region suffering a 40-year drought, a study covered by the BBC suggests. A team of British and Ghanaian researchers found the trees in these areas favoured species able to cope with drier conditions, challenging former findings that drought leads to less carbon being stored.
Australian officials are considering ending the ban on killing great white sharks after five swimmers were fatally attacked in a single year, The Guardian said. Western Australia’s state minister of fisheries, Norman Moore, has asked central government to clarify the status of the species, which has been on the protected list since 1999.