10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
More than 250 environmental experts from 35 countries gather at the University of Maryland for the 10th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in July 2012

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel
Maryland students vist Israel's first solar power plant in the Negev desert as part of a spring break field trip to study environmental issues in the Middle East

Workshop with All China Environment Federation

Workshop with All China Environment Federation
Participants in March 12 Workshop with All China Environment Federation in Beijing

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition
Jordanian Justice Minister Aymen Odah presents trophy to Noura Saleh & Niveen Abdel Rahman from Al Al Bait University along with US AID Mission Director Jay Knott & ABA's Maha Shomali

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 1 Blogpost from China

I just returned from three weeks in China where Blogspot is blocked.  Here is the June 1 post I made on my parallel blog at: www.globalenvironmentallaw.com.

I arrived in Beijing on May 28 and flew to Shanghai on May 29 to start a stint as a high-level visiting foreign expert at Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Law.  China’s severe air pollution problems dominate a lot of public discourse here.  The government seems open to trying just about anything to reduce air pollution.

The State Grid of China announced on May 27 that it will seek private capital to establish a distributed power network for electric vehicle chargers.  This was considered significant because it represented the first time the Grid had opened up to investment of private capital, something that China’s major oil companies had done in January.  The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers estimates that 14,000 electric vehicles and 3,300 plug-in hybrids were sold in China in 2013. Du Juan, Power Supplier Will Seek Private Capital, China Daily, May 28, 2014. 

The Russian power company Inter RAO is considering building the world’s largest coal-fired power plant in the Russian far east to supply electricity to China.  Boris Kovalchuk, the CEO of the power supplier, said that it was considering building an 8GW power plant near the Erkovetskya coal deposit in Russia’s far east. The world’s largest coal-fireed power plant today is the 5.5GW Taichung plant in Taiwan.  Kovalchuk noted that China needs more electricity and that Chinese officials would like it to come from plants outside the country in order to reduce Chinese air pollution. Reuters, Russian Firm Studying World’s Largest Coal-Fired Power Plant to Supply China, May 26, 2014.

Yesterday’s South China Post had a front page story on the discovery that the particulate pollution in China’s air contains extraordinarily high levels of toxic metals. Stephen Chen, Hazardous Levels of Trace Metals in China’s Air, South China Morning Post, May 31, 2013, at 1. In a study published in Environmental Science and Technology last year, Li Weijun, a professor of environmental science at Shandong University, found 200-250 microgramsof zinc per litre and levels of iron of 105 micrograms per litre in clouds on two Chinese mountains.  These levels are 10 to 20 times greater than levels of metals in U.S. particulate pollution.

China is making changes to encourage local governments to crack down on air pollution.  On May 26 Zhai Qing, China’s vice-minister for environmental protection announced that for the first time the Communist Party’s Organization Department, which decides on the promotion of local officials, and top leaders of the State Council will evaluate local officials based on how well they do in meeting goals for reducing air pollution in 338 cities pursuant to the Airborne Pollution Control Action Plan that was unveiled last September.  This Plan calls for reductions of between 25% and 10% in levels of PM2.5 in various areas of China during the period 2013-2017.  The central government also pledged to give more financial support to regions that reduce air pollution, while reducing support to regions that fail to achieve the goals.  Wu Wencong, Appraisal to Facilitate Clean Air Endeavor, China Daily, May 29, 2014, at 3.

A comprehensive survey of Chinese wetlands begun in January 2010 has concluded that Tibet has more than 38,000 wetlands.  China’s largest wetland area is the Sanjiang Plain Nature Reserve in Heilongjiang province, which covers more than 10 million hectares.  About two-thirds of Tibetan wetlands currently are in conservation areas and by 2020 Tibet will be required to preserve at least 6.4 million hectares of wetland areas.  Hu Yongqi & Da Qiong, Tibet Ranks Second in Wetland Preservation, China Daily, May 29, 2014, at 7.

On May 30 Shanghai Jiaotong Professor Zhao Huiyu and I had dinner with Sushu Wang, a Maryland law student who is spending the summer working as an intern with the Shanghai Environmental Protection Board (EPB).  Sushu was born in Nanjing, but moved with her family to the U.S. when she was two years old.  She described how the Shanghai EPB responds to complaints about pollution and noted that she has been able to accompany EPB staff as they serve papers on polluters.

On May 31 Professor Zhao and I accompanied a group of students participating in the University of Santa Clara Law School’s summer program in China on a trip to the ancient Chinese city of Xitang.  Xitang, which is located about 80 minutes southeast of Shanghai, is a city of canals that has become a major tourist attraction, though we appeared to be among the few foreign tourists there on Saturday.  Xitang has lots of well-preserved buildings and bridges dating from the 14th through the 19th centuries.  


I am quoted in today’s Washington Post in a column by Robert McCartney criticizing Midwestern attorneys general for filing briefs supporting the Farm Bureau’s appeal of a decision upholding the EPA’s total maximum daily loadings (TMDL) plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Robert McCartney, Distant States Seek to Disrupt Our Region’s Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan, Washington Post, June 1, 2014. McCartney called me in Shanghai to interview me for the article. I will be in China until June 16 giving a series of lectures in both Shanghai and in Shandong Province.

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