Sharp increases in temperature, driven by global warming, are melting China’s Himalayan glaciers, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a study led by Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers. Drastic retreats were observed in the glacial regions, along with large losses of mass and an increase in the area of glacial lakes, according to the study, published in Environmental Research Letters.
The city of Cangzhou, Hebei province, has experienced severe ground subsidence of about 2.4 metres, on average, over the past 40 years, according to ifeng.com. Wu Aimin of the China Geological Environment Monitoring Institute attributed the drop to over-exploitation of groundwater resources – a problem also faced by Beijing and Tianjin.
As it did with solar panels and wind turbines, the Chinese government seeks to become a force in supplying the world with fresh water, The New York Times said. Among other goals, the new Beijiang Power and Desalinisation Plant, on the Bohai shoreline near Tianjin, is meant to strengthen Chinese expertise in distilling seawater and lessen a chronic water shortage in the city.
In a statement on the Ministry of Commerce website, China sharply rebuked a complaint filed by US solar companies, warning the United States not to take protectionist measures that could harm the global economy, Reuters reported. Seven American makers of solar equipment recently urged that high import duties be imposed on Chinese solar-cell products.
China will not allow its per-capita carbon emissions to reach levels seen in the United States, the BBC quoted the country’s climate-policy minister as pledging. While a recent European Commission study said Chinese emissions may reach US levels by 2017, Xie Zhenhua of the National Development and Reform Commission asserted that to let emissions rise that high would be a “disaster for the world”.
As existing nuclear-power plants age and many new reactors go into operation, China faces increasing safety risks, Reuters quoted environmental minister Zhou Shengxian as saying. In a speech published on the website of the National People’s Congress, Zhou noted that safety-monitoring was becoming more difficult.
Power stations and central heating plants have been building up stocks to meet winter demand, pushing China’s power-station coal price up to the highest level in three years, Bloomberg News said, citing data from the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association.
China will strictly control the consumption of non-renewable energy in the next five years by setting mandatory ceilings for local governments, Xinhua quoted Jiang Bing of the National Energy Administration as saying.
The threat that increasing pollution of the Yangtze River poses to the finless porpoise is also a warning for the third of China’s population that depends on the waters, China Daily reported. There are now thought to be about 1,000 of the animals, a figure decreasing by about 5% annually. Some scientists estimate that the finless porpoise, a freshwater dolphin, will become extinct within 15 years.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
China for the first time commits to a phase out of its domestic ivory industry, but illegal trading and poaching means African elephants and rhinos remain under grave threat