Green Hops: Water Forum, Gasoline Price Hikes, Guangdong LED

Editor’s Note:  This edition of Green Hops contains an inexplicably frequent number of references to Guangzhou and Guangdong.  We wonder why that might be…

Water issues continue to dominate China’s environmental agenda thanks to the recent World Water Forum in Turkey.  The forum ended pathetically, failing to recognize water as a basic human right.  But in more positive news, Guangzhou (capital city of southeastern Guangdong province) received the “Compromiso Mexico” water prize, which rewards “the best local public policies that have had a positive impact on the drinking water, sewerage and sanitation services in the communities they interact with.”  According to Xinhua:

Since 1997, the government launched a number of water initiatives, which greatly improved the once heavily polluted inlets of the city’s Pearl River. The government is expected to allocate 48.6 billion yuan (some 7.11 billion U.S. dollars) for water management in 2009 and 2010, which accounts for one third of its financial budget.

China is awakening to the looming climate-water crisis, as evidenced by overtures by Chinese officials at the forum described here and its stated intention to join the World Water Council soon.  We at GLF have harped on the national security implications of water scarcity and the impacts of climate change to hydrological cycles (see previous post).  To this end, it has outlined 10 key water initiatives, which consist of:

the reinforcement of risky reservoirs in the country, rural drinking water security, upgrading water-saving facilities in large irrigation areas, comprehensive management of major rivers and lakes, upgrading large irrigation pumping stations, key water projects at sources, infrastructure on farmland, water and soil conservation, rural hydropower development and electrification and capacity building in the future.

In a less desirable water project, 27,000 residents in Henan province’s Jiazuo city are being forced to relocate to make way for the monstrous south-to-north water diversion project.

Energy Price Reform

Benchmark gasoline and diesel prices were hiked by RMB 290 (4.6%) and RMB 180 (3.25) per ton on Mar 25, catching by surprise analysts who thought there was still room for price cuts after the government announced its liquid fuel price reforms last December (see previous post).  The price hike reportedly more than cancels out a price cut insituted in Jan 14, and comes at at time where crude oil prices have recently climed to above $50 per barrel after previously hovering in the $30s.

Natural gas industry insiders are also expecting that low natural gas prices now will be a harbinger of imminent price increases.  The price of natural gas is currently capped by the government at half their international prices.  While we are on the opic of gas, it is worth mentioning that Indonesia may carry out the first delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Tangguh project in Papua to China’s Fujian province in June.

Greenfrastructure, Green Industry, Green Policy

Bidding for the much anticipated 30 km bridge that will connect Hong Kong , Zhuhai and Macau (see previous post on the Pearl River Delta’s greenfrastructre plans) is opening up, with emphasis placed on safety an estuary protection (to protect the region’s highly threatened white Chinese dolphins, pictured right).

There’s been lots of recent coverage on the grid expansions plans of the State Grid, which controls 88% of China’s national grid.  China’s “other grid company”, the China Southern Grid Company, which controls the rest, announced that it will invest RMB 71 billion in 20 key projects this year.

Guangzhou is gearing up to green up its industrual base, granting generous corporate tax waivers to cleantech companies–generous enough for General Electric to open a new office there.

Wuhan in Hebei province has launched its own environmental exchange that will initially focus on trading credits for chemical oxygen demand (COD) and sulfur dioxide. China Daily is calling it China’s first, but readers of this blog will know that there are various other environmental exchanges that have also had soft launches over the past year (see previous post on Beijing’s and Tianjin’s exchange initiatives).

Xinjiang’s capital city and one of China’s most polluted cities, Urumqi, is embarking on a RMB 5 billion effort to clean up winter time air pollution.  How bad it Urumqi’s air pollution? According to Xinhua:

Figures from the Environmental Monitoring of China (EMC) website show that for 29 days in January, the city’s air quality was categorized as Level 3 or higher, meaning the air was “slightly or heavily polluted”.  For 18 days in January, the city topped the list of 86 Chinese cities that EMC monitored with high air pollution levels.

Fuels from Heaven (Renewables)

Solar is on everyone’s lips following the announcement of the Gansu solar project concession results, national Solar Roofs Program and Jiangsu province incentives, so lets keep the buzz–this time to Inner Mongolia, where the (primarily) China-based solar company with the geographically misleading name, Canadian Solar, is planning to build a 1 megawatt solar farm in Hulun Buir.  The solar farm will reportedly cover 30,000 square meters, take a year for construction to be complete, and generate 4 million kwh of electricity per year.

China is flexing its hydro expertise and exporting its know how to West Africa.  State-owned Sinohydro Corporation and the Benin Electricity Corporation (CEB) recently signed a EUR 282 million contract for the construcion of a 147 megawatt Adjarala hydropower station project in Lome, the capital of the Republic of Togo.  Sinohydro will build the project within 45 months.

Closer to home two hydro projects in the southwest, one in Sichuan and the other in Guizhou, totaling almost 2 gigawatts, have received the green light by NDRC.

Negawatts (Energy Efficiency)

That moniker should belong to the city of Dongguan in the southeastern province of Guangdong.  Dongguang investment program that will cover 30% of the costs of purchasing the LED equipment.  Dongguan’s efforts are part of Guangdong’s larger plans to retrofit 1,500 km of roads with about 100,000 LEDS by 2015.

As a vulnerable island-economy, Macau is understandably getting very nervous about the sea-level implications of climate change.  Its top meteorologist is urging energy conservation as a priority energy action (echoing U.S. Secretary of Energy Steve Chu’s recent comments).  If you are in Macau this week, be sure to check out the Macao International Environmental Cooperation Forum & Exhibition, held Apr 2-4.

Forestry and Fisheries

The State Forestry Administration (SFA) will pump RMB 20 billion into highly desertified Ningxia to implement a variety of projects including the restoration of arid land, building of a large ecological park, wind breaks and wetlands shelter.  (One can only wonder what the SFA must feel about Bank of China and their concurrent plans to bankroll Ningxia’s coal and chemicals industry infrastructure.)

Readers interested in the forest management trends in China should take a look at this piece describing certain statistics provided by SFA.  They sure paint a rosey picture, but if there’s one thing that sticks out, its the SFA’s own admission that desertification remains a far reaching problem (“One third of China’s land is influenced by desertification, with 400 million people, or more than 30 percent of the total population, living in places affected by desertification.”).  This suggests that water management policies must be carefully integrated with forest management policies (and of course energy and agricultural policies).

A three-month fishing ban has been imposed on China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang.  Local fishermen are being retrained to work in aquaculture.  As more such natural fishery resources become exhausted, GLF predicts a major boon in sustainable aquaculture…worldwide.  Anybody wanna go into business?


A new trade group of “new-energy” automotives was founded in Beijing to promote R&D into energy efficient vehicles.  Members of the new alliance, numbering 300, include the Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp, Beijing Bus Group and Beijing Institute of Technology. The organization is primarily based on the Beijing New Energy Automotive Design and Manufacture Base set up in December last year at Beiqi-Foton Motor Co., Ltd. which we reported in a recent Green Hops.

The new emphasis on smaller and more efficient is already providing dividends; Europe’s econmic woes are becoming a boon for China made-autos, which are generally smaller, cheaper and are increasingly providing better gasoline mileage.  The emphasis on small and cheap is part of a strategy to achieve a 10-million-vehicle auto manufacturing sector and to “form two to three auto giants with capacities reaching 2 million in vehicle production and sales, and four-to-five smaller companies with capacities greater than 1 million in the next three years through mergers and acquisitions.”  See also this excellent piece in New Energy & Envirinmental Digest and another article in the New York Times about China’s green car ambitions.

In other not-so-green auto news, more details to the rural vehicle purchase susidy program have been announced.  Farmer’s are going to great one-stop car buying services!  We might just have to call this a new “Drive West” policy.

Mass Transportation

Fujian province’s Xiamen has elected to build out mass transit in the sky and forgo the more expensive option of underground subway rail.  Dubbed “air corridors”, Xiamen’s new bus rapid transit system is bringing mobility to 180,000 passengers a day at the affordable price of 0.3 yuan (4 US cents) per ride.  “The special line for ordinary people!” as the locals call it.

IBM is building a classification and coding system using its “Maximo” software for all of Guangzhou Metro’s software, services, tracks, trains, station shops and advertising spots as the railway operator gears up for a US$176 billion expansion expected to double passenger capacity to 4 million per day.

New passenger bullet train lines have been launched–Hefei (Anhui province)-Wuhan (Hubei province), Shijiazhuang (Hebei province)-Taiyuan (Shanxi province). and Beijing-Taiyuan.

Mass transit will underpin an “urban intergration” strategy between Guangzhou and neighboring Foshan.

Circular Economy

Small, unlicensed e-waste recycling peddlars out of business thanks to the new Management Regulation on the Recycling and Treatment of Disposed Appliances and Electronics Products released on March 4 that prohibits people without government licensing and the right technology to deal with e-waste management themselves.  While this has led to pile-up in e-waste, the upshot of the new regulations is that professional e-waste recycling companies will soon dominate China’s e-waste market.  Given the toxic by-product involved in reprocessing electronic goods, this is probably a good thing overall.  But how effective will these companies be in collecting e-waste in outlying rural areas, where electronic appliance purchase subsidies under the economic stimulus package are creating a huge turnover (and pile up) of old television sets are other electronic products.

Sensitive to both the economic and ecological times of our day, organizers of Guangzhou’s 2010 Asian Games are going to invest more smartly in the Game’s supporting IT infrastructure–purchasing less of it and planning for post-Games utilization.  After the event, IT equipment will be redeployed for use in “rural areas, residential communities and the sports sector.”

Recycling rates in Macao are up.  Not bad news in the short run, but GLF urges readers to consider the simple fact that recycling is perhaps the least desirable “R” of the four R’s–redesign, reduce, reuse and recycle.  In time to come, low recycling rates will be deemed a success simply because it means there is less waste to recycle through smart design, reduced consumption, and optimal reuse of products before recycling (aka “downcycling“) becomes an option.

Crazy Climate Adaptation Story of the Month

How’s this for crazy?  “China continues to blast ice blockages along Yellow River.”  As more permafrost breaks loose as a result of climate change, are rocket blasters the answer?

Comments (5)

  1. sustainablejohn Apr.6.2009@5:47 pm Reply

    Great post Julian, you’re covering so much these days!

  2. ecocentrics Apr.8.2009@3:38 am Reply

    Great blog! Technical but interesting to read!

  3. Wes Apr.15.2009@1:20 pm Reply

    Julian, do you have a link or information source about the impacts of climate change to hydrological cycles. I couldn’t find the previous post you referred to. Maybe it reveals my ignorance, but from my days in elementary school I learned that the amount of water on earth never changes, so I’ve always wondered where all the water is going if so many places in China are drying up. I can understand that the glacier runoff is decreasing as things heat up, but won’t that just lead to concentrations of water in other locations? By the way, I really enjoy your blog.

  4. Julian Apr.20.2009@11:26 pm Reply

    @Wes, thanks for the kind comments. I guess the key thing is that while total volume of water never changes, the balance between fresh and saltwater does. Climate change will push the balance towards saltwater, which is of course not so good for us. A great recent article can be found in the Economist earlier this month at:

    Another good graphic is can be found at:

    Hope this helps!

  5. Rob Earley Apr.22.2009@11:35 am Reply

    I guess one good thing about the agricultural vehicle subsidy would be that as of June 2008, there are fuel economy standards for farm vehicles in China. I don’t have up to date information on what the effect of the subsidy would be on increasing overall emissions from the sector, but in the context of mechanization of agriculture, it’s possible that getting rid of the clunkers and changing up for new vehicles will help in the short term, at least.

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