Archive for China
Quoted from bbc.co.uk 10th January 2013
‘Figures from the South African government indicate that poaching for rhinoceros has increased substantially in the last year. A record 668 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2012, up almost 50% on the number for 2011. The majority of the animals were killed in the Kruger national park, the country’s biggest wildlife reserve. Experts say that growing demand for rhino horn in Asia is driving the slaughter. South Africa is home to around three quarters of the world’s rhinoceros population of around 28,000 animals. In 2007 a mere 13 animals were lost to poachers. But since then the killing has increased substantially. It is being fuelled by the belief in countries like China and Vietnam that powdered rhino horn has medicinal powers and can impact diseases like cancer. Horns can sell for around $65,000 a kg. The rich rewards have attracted criminal gangs who deploy a range of sophisticated technologies in their efforts to capture and dehorn the animals. The South African government have attempted to fight back using soldiers and surveillance aircraft, but the numbers indicate they are losing the fight.’
In other poaching news, Zambia has banned the hunting of big cats after the ministry of Tourism decided more money was to be made in keeping the animals alive. ‘Blood-sport’ only raised $3 million (£1.9 million) in 2012.
New research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that the illicit trade in animal and plant parts is worth $19 billion a year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting, and people trafficking. The report highlights the potential risk to national stability as armed rebel groups are using the trade to fund civil conflicts. The WWF study cites the example of a large elephant massacre in northern Cameroon as an example. In this case, rebel groups from Chad and Sudan killed 450 elephants in order to sell their ivory to buy arms. A recent seizure of an estimated 20 tonnes of ivory in Malaysia on route to China only shows to exemplify the scale of the trade. According to the Born Free Foundation, the number of elephants killed from poaching (c. 30,000) now exceeds the number that die of natural causes.
www.bbc.co.uk 19th August 2012
A row has erupted between China and Japan over the arrest of a group of 14 Chinese protestors who set foot on the disputed islands known as Senkaku In Japan and Diaoyu in China. It is the first time non-Japanese nationals have set foot on the islands, which are owned by Japan, since 2004. The islands are largely uninhabited but are close to strategically important shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds, and are believed to contain oil deposits. The activists arrived by boat and plane and their arrest immediately caused the Chinese government to call for their arrest. Chinese protestors also gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Shortly afterwards, 150 Japanese protestors also embarked for the islands but were prevented from landing by Japanese coastguard. Ten of the group swam ashore though and are now being questioned by police. Tensions have risen before when a Chinese trawler was apprehended by Japanese coastguard in September 2010 after it rammed two Japanese vessels. As Sino-Japanese relations plummeted though, the Japanese dropped charges.
www.cnn.com 3rd July 2012
The Government Office Administration of the State Council of China has announced its intention to ban shark fins being served at official banquets. Shark fins are usually served in a soup that was originally reserved for the elite during imperial times. With the Chinese economic boom however, demand for the luxury dish has rocketed resulting in widespread and unsustainable shark fishing. Sharks are usually finned while still alive and the rest of the body is discarded. The demand for shark fin soup has been attributed to the increase of endangered shark species across the planet, rising from 15 in 1996 to 181 today. Between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed every year. The move by the Government Office Administration came after a proposal was put forward in the National People’s Congress early last year. Although it may take as long as three years to implement, the ban would ‘help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.’ Several companies have also made moves to ban the product in China including the Peninsula Hotel and Shangri-la Hotels chains. Swissotel in Beijing has already stopped.
The current standoff in the South China Sea reported in the BBC has the potential to be the beginning of something far larger in scale. The standoff is between China and the Philippines, and the area of contention is Scarborough Shoal, a small atoll of islands and reefs that lies well within the Philippines 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) dictated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (above). However, along with most of the rest of the South China Sea, China claims the atoll belongs to them. On Sunday (8th April), the Philippine’s largest warship, on a routine patrol of the area, found eight Chinese fishing vessels around Scarborough Shoal. Upon boarding one, the Philippine navy found a large amount of illegally caught fish and coral. Two days after this, two Chinese navy surveillance vessels arrived on the scene and positioned themselves between the fishing vessels and the Philippine warship, foiling any attempts the latter had to arrest the fishermen. Tensions grew yet further with news, reported in the BBC today (Thursday 12th April), that a Philippine coastguard vessel was to join the warship to face down the Chinese.
China claims territory within the 200 mile EEZs of five other countries around the South China Sea: Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Regional flare-ups have happened in the past but they have, as yet, not ended in violence. One factor that must be taken into account when studying the geopolitics of the region is the possibility that a large amount of oil and gas resides beneath the Sea. This maybe one reason why China has been bolstering its navy in recent years, a move that makes it now the second largest naval force in the world after the USA with over 500 combat vessels. The People’s Liberation Army’s Navy also trialled its first aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
However, another factor that is sure to play a part in regional tensions in this part of the world is fish. It is interesting to note that although the confrontational nature of the Chinese surveillance vessels off Scarborough Shoal maybe to safeguard the area for future fossil fuel exploitation, it kicked off because of illegal fishing around the islands. With 70% of the world’s fish stocks being fished close to, already at, or beyond capacity has led experts to predict a catastrophic collapse in worldwide fish-stocks by the year 2048. Coastal communities in south-eastern Asian countries such as China and the Philippines have traditionally relied upon fish as a main source of protein and as fish populations decline, fishermen are having to travel further afield to satisfy demand. Not only does this have a devastating effect on the marine environment (from unsustainable fishing practices alone), but it also causes territorial disputes such as the one brewing around the Scarborough Shoal.
The fact that the Philippine navy is about to commence naval exercises alongside the US Navy in the same area makes for an interesting, and possibly fatal, few months. Although it is by no means certain that hostilities will commence (actually it is extremely unlikely as the last thing either the USA or China want is a clash), the fact that a standoff is even happening is because, presumably, the Chinese fishing vessels cannot find enough fish in areas of water that are less contested. This of course does not take into account the possibility that the boats were deliberately sent to the Shoal to reinforce China’s claim on the area.
Nobody wants a naval war to start in the South China Sea. Exploiting oil and gas reserves would become very difficult if it did. However, China does need to decide what is a more important resource: oil or fish. The former may matter more for the economy but the latter may be worth more to the population. Riots have started for far less than an increase in the price of fish. If it turns out that fish is a more important resource, then we here at LMV would not be surprised if clashes do happen in the South China Sea.
As the world’s leaders and scientists meet in Durban this weekend to discuss the end of the Kyoto Protocol and climate change, several nations seem intent on disrupting negotiations. Key among them is the USA who, along with China, Japan, Canada and Russia, has refused point-blank to agree to any new targets on CO2 reductions at the summit. The USA under George Bush rejected the current Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012 and aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 5% compared to 1990 levels, back in 2001 citing the unfairness that the Protocol did not include developing countries such as India and China. Now, with the presidential elections looming, the Obama administration is refusing to agree to a new set of limitations. The stance has led to angry criticisms from many attending the Durban summit including small island nations who are likely to be the worst affected by changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, who played a key role in the original Kyoto negotiations, spoke out against the approach. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Let’s have a reassessment of it by 2015. But if you don’t finish in time for the ending of Kyoto Two, which is next year, 2012, then, you know, it will actually wither on the vine and that’s what Canada and America wants – and one or two other rich countries. It’s a conspiracy against the poor. It’s appalling. I’m ashamed of such countries not recognising their responsibilities.”
Although the USA and co have been labelled as the villains at the UN sponsored conference, there is evidence that a shift in the UK government’s strategy towards climate change is afoot. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hinted at this change when he said: ”We are not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills, aluminium smelters and paper manufacturers.” His words run against the government’s previous assertions that it intends to be the ‘greenest government ever’. In response, the President of the coalition’s partners, the Liberal Democrat party, Tim Farron, claimed Mr Osborne was taking on climate-sceptic attitude ”to placate 50 or 60 climate deniers on the [Tory] back benches, people who read the Daily Mail and people called Jeremy Clarkson”. It all seems that with the global economy in a downturn, environmental issues are being sidelined.
e360.yale.edu 15th August 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The Environmental Investigation Agency reports that the Chinese government has reopened the trade in tiger and leopard skins obtained from “legal” sources, including controversial tiger farms. While Chinese officials vowed to combat poaching and the smuggling of tiger products as part of last year’s Global Tiger Recovery Program, the EIA says the government has reinstated the so-called Skin Registration Scheme, which allows skins from captive-bred cats to be registered, labeled, and sold. According to the group, which says it found several examples of skins for sale online, the scheme will only encourage the illegal trade in wild cat parts and makes a “complete mockery” of the nation’s tiger conservation pledge. “It’s doing nothing to actually help tiger and leopard conservation, instead providing a cover for illegal trade and creating a confused consumer market,” said Debbie Banks, head of the EIA’s Tiger Campaign. In the last century, wild tiger populations have plummeted from 100,000 to 3,500, and experts predict the animal will go extinct by 2022 if strong measures are not taken. The group’s warning comes as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) prepares to meet in Switzerland this week.’
e360.yale.edu 19th July 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The shipping industry has become the first global business sector to agree to mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions. At a meeting of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, member countries agreed to set CO2 emissions standards on new ships beginning in 2019, with the goal of improving energy efficiency by 30 percent by 2024. The member countries also agreed to more modest efficiency improvements and emissions reductions in the world’s 60,000 existing ships. Of the world’s top 10 shipping nations, only China voted against the agreement. Brazil, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Chile also opposed the accord, and it remains to be seen if these countries will adhere to the majority decision. The agreement allows developing nations to apply for a waiver from the rules until 2019, and the Clean Shipping Coalition warned that the agreement could result in most new ships registering with countries that get a waiver. Overall, however, environmental advocates said the agreement was a positive step that could reduce CO2 emissions from shipping by 50 million tons by 2020. Shipping accounts for about 3 percent of human CO2 emissions.’
The Agriculture Minister of the Bahamas Larry Cartwright has approved this Tuesday a ban on the sale, import and export of shark products. The move sees the island chain join other countries such as Honduras, the Maldives, and Palau in banning shark fishing. Roughly 73 million sharks are killed annually, mostly to supply the heavy demand from China where sharks’ fins are used in traditional soups. The ban in the Bahamas, as well as the increase in shark-fishing fines from $3,000 to $5,000, will effectively make its 243,000 square mile territorial waters a safe haven for the ancient group of species. Although long-line fishing has been banned in the country since 1993, shark-fishing was still legal until conservationists launched a campaign in response to a local company announcing its intentions to export shark meat to Hong Kong. Tourism brings in $80 million to the Bahamas annually and each reef shark, according to the Pew Environmental Group, is worth about $250,000. This is compared to the $10,800 market value of a dead shark.
www.nytimes.com 14th June 2011
The Russian border with China is flourishing with a rather macabre trade. The smuggling of animal parts into China, where they are used in various ‘traditional’ medicines, has rocketed in recent years, a fact demonstrated by a recent haul seized by Russian customs officers on Tuesday (14th June). In the bed of a seemingly empty Chinese-owned flat-bed truck, sniffer dogs revealed 26 elk lips, 1,041 bear paws, lynx fur, unspecified claw parts and 5 tusks from the extinct woolly mammoth. The total weight of the body parts was 1.4 (US) tons. The trade is worrying. According to Aleksei L. Vaisman from Traffic Europe-Russia, which monitors trade in wild animals, “China is a vacuum cleaner for Siberian wildlife.” Since Russian customs officers started using dogs, traffickers have risked larger shipments. The average price for a set of 4 bear paws would be around $50. The mammoth ivory tusks pose more a ethical dilemma. Conservationists tend to encourage the sale of this type of ivory to take the pressure off endangered species. With an estimated 150 million mammoths frozen in Siberia’s permafrost alone, it is not difficult to see why. However, Russia requires an export license in order to make sure those tusks with scientific value, prehistoric slaughter marks for example, are sent to researchers.
www.nytimes.com 6th June 2011
Canadian oil sands hold an incredibly large amount of oil. Sands in the province of Alberta alone hold an estimated 171.3 billion barrels of oil so it is not hard to see why its extraction is progressing at a rapid rate. However, a proposed pipeline between Canada and the US has stumbled across some difficulties as the State Department, the US government body that needs to give permission for the pipeline, reaches an end of its environmental review. The process has lasted since November 2008. A decision is expected by the end of this year. Environmental groups widely criticise the exploitation of oil sands due to the amount of energy and water used in the extraction process and the destruction of the Boreal forest atop the sands. With $7 billion behind the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction though, as well as US government concerns about oil import instability due to the Arab Spring, environmental concerns may be sidelined for a secure source of oil. Russell K. Girling, president of TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, has said that oil sand development will go ahead whatever the American government decide. Other alternatives include transporting by rail or by using other existing pipelines such the Trans Mountain pipeline to Canada’s Pacific Coast. The Chinese have also expressed interest. The Canadian government is not likely to fall out of love with so-called ‘dirty oil’ (see the film of the same name in our documentaries section) anytime soon. Canadians re-elected a conservative government who have been staunch supporters of oil sand development.
www.bbc.co.uk 6th May 2011
A team of scientists from the US have determined that climate change over the past three decades has led to a 5.5% decline in global wheat yields. The research was carried out by Stanford University and assessed the impact of climate on the four major food crops of the world: wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans. Crop losses were so severe in some regions that they wiped out gains made through such factors as technology. ”There are already clear changes going on in most agricultural regions in terms of weather, and they have effects on food production that are sizeable,” said David Lobell, the head researcher on the report. Strangely enough, North America was the only region studied that did not show any trend of warming over the 30 year period whereas Europe, China, and Brazil all did. When it came to rainfall, just as many regions were experiencing more rainfall as those experiencing less. Professor Lobell insisted that the findings only referred to past relationships and in order for predictions in future crop yield to be worked out, some large assumptions would have to be made. For one, whether the crops of tomorrow will be the same as the ones we use today (genetically for one).
www.nytimes.com 8th February 2011
The latest severe drought to befall the world has hit China resulting in a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) alert warning of wheat shortages from the region. The drought is the worst for 60 years in the country, which is the largest wheat producer in the world. For Shandong province, one of the main provinces for wheat growing, the drought could be the worst in 200 years, unless substantial rain falls by the end of the month. The reduced crop yield could have wider implications for global wheat prices, which are already seen as being behind the popular protests in Madagascar, Tunisia and Egypt. The widespread droughts and wildfires in Russia last Summer, as well as the recent severe floods in Australia, have brought international attention to the wheat market as the two countries are also large exporters. However, China has previously been self-sufficient in wheat. The current droughts, which are affecting 5.16 million hectares of China’s 14 million hectares of wheat fields, will force the Chinese government to buy from abroad forcing up the cereal’s prices even further.
www.independent.co.uk 4th February 2011
As the United Nations launches the international year of forests, a top official within the organisation has claimed that the global forest cover could actually start expanding in the next few years. The statement followed research carried out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which revealed that in Asia and Europe forest cover has actually increased over the past decade. In Europe, forest cover has risen above the 1 billion hectare mark. In Asia, China, India, and South Korea have all been singled out for praise in their attempts to increase forested areas. China alone has announced it plans to increase its woodland from 120 million hectares to 200 million. However, due to widespread deforestation in African and South America, global forested area declined from 4.085 billion hectares in 2000 to 4.032 billion in 2010. Furthermore, the FAO study declared that much of the new forested areas had only ‘junk value’ in relation to their ability to absorb greenhouse gases. Overall, global deforestation rates have dropped considerably from 30 years ago when 50 million hectares were cut down each year. The figure now stands at around 5.2 million.
Quoted from source:
‘The Warriors of Qiugang, a film co-produced by Yale Environment 360 and featured exclusively on its website, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). This e360 video report, co-produced with filmmakers Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon and shot in China, was among the Oscar nominees announced yesterday. The film chronicles the story of the Chinese village of Qiugang and its battle against a polluting chemical factory. “This is a tremendous honor for Yale Environment 360,” said e360 editor Roger Cohn. “And we hope that this helps bring attention to the brave stand of the people of Qiugang”.’
Watch the film exclusively at Yale e360 here.
www.ft.com 19th January 2011
Quoted from source:
‘A group of 36 Chinese environmental groups has accused Apple of failing to address concerns over pollution and worker health issues in factories supplying components for its gadgets. In a report to be published on Thursday, the groups rank Apple last in a list of 29 multinational technology companies based on how each company dealt with inquiries about pollution and occupational health hazard incidents at factories in their supply chain. The report underscores a growing environmental awareness in China and the nascent attempts by the country’s heavily monitored and restricted non-governmental organisations to draw attention to important social issues. The environmental groups’ condemnation of Apple is the result of a more than year-long attempt at influencing environmental and worker health protection practices at 29 multinationals. The groups list HP, BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone, Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp, and Hitachi as positive examples that responded to their inquiries and took some steps to adjust problematic practices at their suppliers or improve supervision systems. A number of other technology companies, including Nokia, LG, SingTel, and Ericsson are also cited for being unresponsive and not taking action to correct the problems, but none fares as badly as Apple, which is criticised for being evasive and not responding to the NGOs’ concerns. One of the health hazard cases the groups say Apple did not respond to was the poisoning of workers at Lianjian Technology, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Wintek, which produces touchscreen modules for Apple mobile devices. In that case, 49 workers were hospitalised and diagnosed as having been poisoned with the chemical cleaning agent n-hexane in 2009, a case widely publicised in Chinese state media. The workers claim to have been left with debilitating illnesses and say they have not received any response to complaints they sent to Apple.’
For the whole article please click here to be taken to the Financial Times website.
www.guardian.co.uk 24th January 2011
In an effort to tackle the country’s growing problems with water supply, the Chinese government has invested over a £1 billion in creating a giant desalinisation plant on reclaimed land bordering the Bohai Sea. It is said to be the biggest and most advanced facility of its type in the whole of Asia and aims to produce 400MW of coal-fired electricity as well as 200,000 cubic metres of salt-free potable water. To combat many of the detrimental environmental side-effects usually associated with these plants, the Chinese government promises to package the removed salt and sell it rather than pumping back into the sea. The facility will also use the by-product from the process, steam, to generate yet more power. The plant joins a host of other projects the Chinese government are pushing forward in an attempt to become more sustainable. Just a ten-minute drive away lies the site of an ‘eco-city’ the size of Bristol, which aims to be fully populated within ten years. These projects are evidence of China’s belief that it can tackle its environmental problems with science, technology, and a lot of money. So far though, the new desalinisation plant has never run on more than a quarter capacity since it opened in April. It has also yet to secure any supply deals with local utility companies.
www.bbc.co.uk 11th December 2010
A compromise has been reached at the climate summit in Cancun. A draft paper drawn up by the hosts of the summit, Mexico, found unexpected support among the countries that have caused the biggest problems in finding a successor to the Kyoto treaty, namely China, Japan, and the USA. As the spokespeople of each of these three stood up to endorse the paper, which states that carbon reductions are necessary and also establishes a fund to help poorer countries in their fight against the effects of global warming, other delegates cheered. The Green Climate Fund will spend $100 billion each year on developing low-carbon technologies in poorer nations as well as investing in infrastructure related to tackling the effects of climate change, such as flooding. Also in the paper are parameters to tackle deforestation. However, the deal is a lot less than many hoped for. Although a step up from the disastrous Copenhagen summit last year, it is unsure whether the Cancun deal will be legally binding. Tara Rao, senior policy adviser with WWF, is optimistic however. “There’s enough in it that we can work towards next year’s meeting in South Africa to get a legally binding agreement there,” she said. Bolivia was the most outspoken critic of the deal, with the President reportedly stating the agreement was ‘ecocide and genocide’. The Bolivian delegate has claimed that the deal will still amount to a rise in global temperatures of over 4 degrees C.
www.independent.co.uk 7th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Scientists have perfected the art of animal deception by donning panda costumes when they take panda cubs born in captivity for medical examination, so that they do not get used to the human form before they are released into the wild. The first captive-bred pandas could be reintroduced within the next three years as part of a 15-year programme. This four-month-old cub was taken to be examined at the Wolong panda reserve in Sichuan province, south-west China, by a researcher in costume. The cub is among the first captive-bred pandas to be prepared for an independent life in the bamboo forests of Sichuan’s mountains – frequent contact with people could make it too tame. The authorities say that they have passed the threshold of 300 captive pandas thought to be necessary for an effective reintroduction programme. Many have been bred at the Chengdu research base of giant panda breeding, four hours’ drive from Wolong, where techniques such as artificial insemination, sperm freezing and twin swapping have increased the captive-breeding success rate. Critics have argued that captive breeding will be meaningless if the panda’s habitat is not better protected against human encroachment. Henry Nicholls, author of a new book on pandas, said yesterday in The Independent that reintroduction is an expensive “distraction” with marginal benefit. “Pandas’ success in captivity creates the illusion that everything could be all right: you could come away from seeing them there thinking ‘super, it will be OK’, whereas they struggle terribly in the wild because of habitat destruction,” he said.
www.independent.co.uk 6th December 2010
Numbers of captive pandas in China have risen above the critical 300 mark, allowing conservationists to begin releasing the bears into the wild. The success is due, in part, to an innovative breeding technique developed by Chinese scientists at the panda-breeding centre in Chengdu, Sichuan. Around 50% of panda births are twins but the mother invariably abandons one of the cubs. Experts at the centre have overcome this problem by incubating the abandoned cubs and swapping them with their sibling up to ten times a day. Apparently the mother panda cannot distinguish between the two and happily continues rearing the twins as if they were one. The centre, which is funded mostly by loaning pandas out to foreign zoos for a cost of $1 million a year, has been so successful in ensuring the survival of panda twins that almost all make it to adulthood. Other innovative action such as artificial insemination and careful study of the female panda’s ovulation cycle means that the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding alone will produce 140 cubs in 2010. Reintroduction of captive pandas is a contentious issue. The only previous attempt ended in disaster four years ago when a lone male was found dead, probably mauled by a rival. Panda habitats are also in peril due to ongoing human development. Much development goes ahead despite the designating of areas as conservation zones. Just 2,000 pandas survive in the wild due to poaching and habitat destruction.
The twin swapping technique has been captured on film by BBC2 in a documentary narrated by David Attenborough to be aired next week.
www.independent.co.uk 25th November 2010
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has travelled to Russia to attend the international tiger summit in St Petersburg. In the summit, he has joined up with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to spearhead a last ditched effort to save the tiger. The summit is the first time world leaders have met purely to discuss the issue and talks will focus on a World Bank proposal to rescue the species. There are currently thought to be around 3,200 tigers left in the wild, down from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century. Mr DiCaprio pledged $1 million of his own money for tiger-saving initiatives and has recently finished a tour of Bhutan and Nepal’s tiger habitats. He is also a board member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The summit has attracted most of the leaders of countries where tigers can be found, including Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. So far, $350 million has been promised for efforts to save tigers. However, conservationists fear that without any agreements over poaching and smuggling prevention the money would be pointless. The decline of tigers has been cause in a large part by the demand for tiger parts in traditional medicines in countries such as China.
www.independent.co.uk 27th November 2010
The latest rounds in UN sponsored talks on climate change are set to take start in two days time (29th November) in the holiday resort of Cancun in Mexico. Spectators hope that a viable alternative to the Kyoto Pact will be put into place following last year’s failure at Copenhagen. The summit will be hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 194 parties are due to attend. The two main objectives are as follows:
1) ACTION BEYOND 2012
- launching a new financial vehicle, unofficially dubbed the Green Fund, to help poor countries cope with the impact of climate change. It could be the main source for aid, promised in Copenhagen, that could reach 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.
- setting financial encouragement to tropical countries so that they preserve their forests rather than cut them down. Logging and land clearance have accounted for between 12 and 25 percent of global emissions annually over the past 15 years.
- encouraging the transfer of clean technology from rich countries to poor economies.
- agreeing ways to measure and monitor countries’ actions, including emissions curbs.
2) FUTURE OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The renewal of greenhouse gas reduction targets. This is difficult due to the lack of support from the USA and the absence of developing economies like Brazil, China, and India. Even the European Union, which saved Kyoto following the USA’s refusal to ratify the treaty in 2001, is doubtful that such as renewal is possible.
www.latimes.com 24th November 2010
The important Russian Tiger Summit, described by many as the last chance to save tigers from extinction, has ended in apparent success. 13 nations, including Russia and China, have agreed to double tiger populations by 2022, the next Chinese year of the Tiger. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who played an instrumental part in attracting so much support for the summit, said, “everybody understands full well that we are talking not just about a concrete representative of the live nature, a tiger, but we are talking about the state-level understanding with which we begin to address the environmental issues.” Although all the countries that still host tiger populations are in Asia, several others have pledged financial support. Germany will donate $30 million and the US Agency for International Development $350,000 (or just over 1% of the total German donation). There just over 3,000 tigers left in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss. It is believed that 20 to 30 are killed for furs and body parts (which invariably end up on the Chinese traditional medicine market) in Russia alone. Fines are minimal though (around $33), a problem that Mr Putin promises to tackle. However, Russian environmentalist Alexei Yablokov, an advisor to the Academy of Sciences, has warned that only a small amount of the money raised will go towards tiger conservation, such is the problem of corruption in the country.
e360.yale.edu 22nd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Drinking glasses decorated with cartoon superheroes and movie characters were found to contain the dangerous chemical cadmium and levels of lead far exceed federal safety standards for children’s products, according to a laboratory analysis commissioned by the Associated Press. The enamel used to decorate the glasses — which are produced in China and sold at the Warner Brothers store in Burbank, Calif. — contained 16 to 30.2 percent lead, far exceeding the 0.03 percent standard, according to the AP. The laboratory analysis also found that the glasses contained the toxic metal cadmium, although there are currently no federal standards for safe limits of that substance. In separate tests, the AP found that several other types of decorative glasses targeted to children also shed small but notable levels of lead or cadmium after regular handling. After learning of the results, Coca-Cola, the producer of one of the decorative glasses, voluntarily recalled 88,000 glasses.’
e360.yale.edu 23rd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Chinese officials say international climate talks next week in Mexico will succeed only if wealthy countries are willing to share technologies and funds to help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Western nations had pledged at last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen to pay into a $30 billion fund to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change, details of the fund have not been finalized. Xie Zhenhua, a senior Chinese climate envoy, said that developed nations must cut their emissions “massively” to allow development space for emerging nations. China’s tough negotiating stance comes as a new report shows that emissions from China and other developing countries are having an increasingly significant impact globally. According to the annual Global Carbon Project report, released this week, global carbon emissions dropped only 1.3 percent in 2009, far below the projected 3 percent decrease, largely as a result of emissions increases in China. Greenhouse gas emissions in China reached 7.5 billion tons in 2009, a 9 percent increase.’
www.chinadaily.com.cn 8th November 2010
The Chinese government, together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has held a global competition for the chance to train as a ‘Pambassador’ Southwest China’s Sichuan province. 60,000 people applied worldwide with 12 finalists being picked to air an online video of themselves, which was then voted for by the general public. The six victors of the competition were an international bunch, coming from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan, the USA, France and Sweden. Their tasks now include tracking pandas through the dense southern Chinese forests, caring for pandas in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and raising awareness for the panda’s plight. Although nobody knows how many Giant Pandas there are left in the wild, official Chinese statistics put their number around 1,600 worldwide (down from 2,500 in the 1970s). Those left are distributed across the Chinese provinces of Sichuan (1,200 pandas), Shaanxi (300) and Gansu (100). A logging ban in 1998 has helped prevent the decline of the panda’s habitats but the construction of large scale infrastructure and an enormous earthquake in 2008 has damaged around 83% of the pandas’ habitat and also destroyed protection meassures. It is hoped that the premier of the new film ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ will be shown in the area to raise awareness for the panda’s peril.
www.telegraph.com 11th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘A new draft dog law would limit each household to just one canine, citing Shanghai’s population of 20 million people and limited living space, the official China Daily reported.The government said tighter regulation was needed due to rampant barking, unscooped waste, and the growing risk of dog attacks, which affect the city’s environment and sanitation, the report said.Under the policy, dog owners also must give their pets’ puppies to eligible no-dog households or to government-approved adoption agencies before the puppies reach three months, the newspaper said. Dog ownership has grown alongside China’s fast-expanding middle class with official estimates putting Shanghai’s pet dog population at 800,000 – although only a quarter of that number are registered, the report said. The draft law also called for the annual licence fee to be cut to 300 yuan (£28) from the current range of 1,000 to 2,000 yuan. Critics have said high fees discourage people from registering and vaccinating dogs. The report quoted one Shanghai dog-lover as saying officials should focus on educating citizens on how to raise pets responsibly – such as having them neutered – instead of developing draconian measures. “The government should improve public knowledge about how to raise a dog and how to prevent them from attacking people … instead of forcing us to raise one dog only,” a resident surnamed Wang said.’