2011 is upon us and – if Australian floods and global food-price warnings are anything to go by – looks set to be as turbulent on the environmental front as the previous 12 months. chinadialogue will be there throughout, offering balanced news and analysis on key developments. But before we move headlong into the future, it is worth taking a moment to look behind us. The headline events of 2010 – post-Copenhagen blues, tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, devastating floods in Pakistan – are familiar territory. But what were the stories that most gripped you? Here is a brief look at five of our most popular articles of 2010.
"A paper victory"
In February, the Chinese government published results of a national survey that showed the country’s pollution problems were far worse than previously estimated. But how had they got it so wrong? In this widely republished article, chinadialogue’s Beijing editor, Liu Jianqiang, laid the blame firmly at the doors of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, arguing the department’s attempts to claim ecological victories while failing to make an impact on pollution exposed its underlying weakness.
"Capitalising on capture"
Thousands of you visited the site to read this instalment of our March series on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and its role in climate-change mitigation. Researchers Li Jia and Liang Xi argued that, while the technology is gaining ground as an accepted tool for fighting climate change, major barriers still stand in the way – not least the lack of financial incentives for investors. With China still dependent on coal for 70% of its energy needs, it’s no surprise this topic struck a chord with our readers. But can CCS play a significant role in cleaning up the country’s energy supply? The jury is still out.
"China’s interests must come first"
This transcript of an August speech by Yu Qingtai, Beijing’s top climate negotiator from 2007 through to the Copenhagen talks, made waves with its blunt message to developed nations, and was featured by the New York Times. Yu argued that China must put its national interests first in climate negotiations and continue to resist the unjust demands of rich countries on reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions. He also defended China’s role at Copenhagen, asserting that the summit – widely regarded as a desperate failure – had led to a more “pragmatic” approach. Responses from Deborah Seligsohn of the World Resources Institute and Derek Scissors from The Heritage Foundation make the comments section here well worth a read.
“Hot wind in the desert”
2010 was the inaugural year of chinadialogue’s environmental journalism awards and Lu Zhenhua took the “biggest impact” prize with this challenging piece about the investment frenzy in China’s wind-energy sector. Reporting in-depth on the wind boom in the Gobi desert, Lu found that financial risks were being ignored in the bid to meet renewable targets and that most wind-farm operators in China risk making long-term losses, concluding that “without state assistance or more preferential policies, limitless winds do not translate into limitless profits.”
"Pointing the finger the wrong way"
Rising tension between China and the United States was the subject of intense media scrutiny last year – not least in the pages of chinadialogue, where Washington’s decision to investigate Chinese cleantech subsidies (off the back of a petition from America’s largest union) provoked a particularly strong response. Many readers left comments agreeing with Dale Wen’s criticism of the “protectionist” move, which she said would only serve to hinder green progress. Whether or not the case succeeds at the World Trade Organization remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – as 2011 gets under way, all eyes will stay firmly fixed on Sino-US relations.