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.
Energy Price Reforms
NDRC announced that it would be removing price caps on coal from next year in a move towards a more market-driven price mechanism. This move comes at an opportune time when coal prices have dropped by 30 to 40% since the summer, but GLF points out an earlier post (see finding #4) on a recent MIT coal report that suggests the upstream coal industry has already moved towards a de facto market price system. Although the NDRC move “is a step in the right direction,” Huang Shengchu, president of Beijing-based China Coal Information Institute says in this interview that government macro-control is still needed to protect the rights of various coal stakeholdres in their contractual dealings with each other, accerlarate industry consolidation of the many small and inefficient mines and to set up a coal price index.
Separately, the proposed auto fuel price reform kicked in earlier than expected. So it turns out that the answer to our confusion (see earlier post) of how the government proposed to hike up taxes and keep fuel prices even was that they would adjust the base fuel price downward, predicated on Read the full story
Nuclear is Hot. Big 5 power company China Huaneng Group has signed contracts with suppliers to equip its first nuclear power plant in Shandong province. The plant, planned for 200 MW in its first phase with a 2013 start date, will boast “high temperature, gas-cooled technology” (HTR-PM), which is supposed to be safer and simpler in design compared to conventional nuclear plants. It is the smallest of 21 plants in China’s nuclear pipeline. For the tech geeks our there, Tsinghua University, one of the purported suppliers of nuclear equipment for the project, has put out a paper describing HTR-PM. A review of China’s nuclear sector is really overdue here at The Green Leap Forward. Watch for it.
Solar-Powered Water. The Xinjiang government has invested RMB 160 million ($23.5 million USD) in a drip irrigation system powered by solar panels. [Pictured: a picture of a generic drip irrigator stolen from the interweb]. Elsewhere, China Solar & Clean Energy Solutions has been awarded a US$3.5 million solar water heating project in Shenzhen. Separately, the Beijing government announced it will invest RMB 13 billion (US$1.9 billion) over the next three years in Read the full story
Newsy tidbits on green developments in China, sans analysis.
Super eco-cities? The unstoppable drive in China towards increased urbanization in the midst of the massive scale of rural-to-urban migration is well known. A report by McKinsey, the prestigious global consulting firm, advocates that China undertakes a more concentrated form of urbanization by building 15 “supercities” each with populations of 25 million each, in order to facilitate the massive scale of rural-urban migration. This is in contrast to the more dispersed approach of developing dozens of smaller cities, and the development of the rural western inland regions of the country.
As stated in the press release announcing the report:
MGI [McKinsey Global Institute] finds that concentrated urban growth scenarios could produce 20 percent higher per capita GDP than that yielded by China’s current urbanization path, would have higher energy consumption but also higher energy efficiency, and would contain the loss of arable land. Concentrated urbanization would also have the advantage of clustering the most skilled workers in urban centers that would be engines of economic growth, enabling China to move more rapidly to higher-value-added activities.
Rule of Law. Earlier, I lamented about the need to improve environmental governance at the provincial and local levels. The head of the newly-named Ministry of Environmental Protection is vowing to tighten up enforcement of environmental laws.
Increased Government Investment. The government plans to pump in 41.8 billion yuan (about US$5.9 billion) this year to help meet its 2010 environmental targets, which include reducing energy intensity by 20% compared to 2005 levels. According to Xinhua News, 7.5 billion yuan would be invested in ten energy-saving programs, 4 billion yuan in closing inefficient coal-fired power units and outmoded steel plants, and 5 billion yuan to tackle water pollution.
Government White Papers. Charlie McElwee of China Environmental Law blog breaks down the National 11th Five-Year Environmental Protection Plan (2006-2011), the English version of which has only be been released earlier this month. While I’m at, I should mention the official white paper on China’s energy policy, available in English here.
Recyling Auto Parts. As part of China’s Circular Economy initiative, the National Development and Reform Commission has signed and agreement with three auto makers and 11 parts manufacturers letters of commitment to set up a pilot auto parts recovery program. As the New York Times reports, China is becoming a big player in the auto parts industry.