I just returned from three weeks in China where Blogspot is blocked by the Great Firewall. Here is the June 7 blog post I made on my parallel blog at: www.globalenvironmentallaw.com:
On June 4 the Chinese government released its 2013 China Environmental Situation Report. It reported that only 3 of the 74 major cities subject to tougher air pollution standards adopted last fall met the goals for reducing air pollution. Li Ganjie, vice minister for environmental protection said that despite some improvements in environmental protection, air quality in cities remains a “serious” problem and the outlook for water quality is “not optimistic.” Groundwater quality was found to be poor or extremely poor at almost 60 percent of 4,778 groundwater monitoring sites. Zhou Shengxian, minister for environmental protection noted that sulfur dioxide emissions declined by 3.5 percent in 2013 and chemical oxgen demand was reduced by 2.9 percent. He stressed the need to improve the legal system to address air, water, and soil pollution. While the report covered the year 2013, Li stressed that the intensity of small particulate pollution (PM2.5) had declined by 10.3 percent during the first three months of 2014. Zheng Xin, Big Cities Struggle to Meet Pollution Standards, China Daily, June 5, 2014, at 1. Noting that the Ministry of Environmental Protection describes the overall environmental situation as “grim” an editorial in the China Daily stated: “With all the input, of both pledges and resources, into an environmental cleanup, what this country achieved in 2013 appears less than impressive. . . . [W]e are now swallowing the bitter fruit of the poisonous but prevalent development philosophy that shouted ‘pollute first, address it later.’” Editorial, Grim Environment Challenge, China Daily, June 5, 2014, at 8.
World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5. The theme for this year’s celebration, selected by the United Nations, was “Small Islands and Climate Change” and the official slogan was “Raise your voice, not the sea level.” Tony de Brum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, reports that sea level rise has washed away the coffins of at least 26 Japanese soldiers who had been buried on a remote island.
The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century released a report on June 4 finding that global investment in renewable energy fell sharply in 2013. European investment in renewable energy fell by 44 percent compared to 2012 while investment in renewables by developing countries declined by 14 percent. China’s investment of $56.3 billion in renewables accounted for 61 percent of the developing country total. In 2013 China for the first time had more new renewable power capacity come on line than new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity.
The United Nations reported this week on the results of the Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea. The parties to the Convention, which is known as the Tehran Convention, include Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. At COP-5, which was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, the five nations agreed on a Biodiversity Protocol to protect species such as the Caspian sturgeon and Caspian seal. Previous protocols to the Convention have dealt with oilo spill response and prevention of land-based pollution.
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) announced on June 6 that it had “blacklisted” 259 local companies during the first three months of the year for violating regulations limiting air or water pollution and the dumping of solid wastes. Thirteen of the firms were ordered to close and 219 were required to change their behavior. Eighty-four of the 219 firms have complied with these orders. Zhao Wen, 259 Firms Guilty of Breaking Green Rules, Shanghai Daily June 7, 2014, at 4.
Residents of the Chinese village of Chendongyuan in Gansu Province have been protesting the deterioration of the town’s main road due to heavy traffic from oil company vehicles accessing PetroChina’s Changqing oil field. As part of these protests 40 village residents blocked access to the oil field on Saturday. One of the protesters, Wang Caixi, was killed when she was crushed under a truck that was attempting to break the blockade. Li Qian, Oil Field Protester Crushed to Death by Truck, Shanghai Daily, June 7 2014, at 5.
I am still in Shanghai where I will be giving a lecture on Tuesday at the Shanghai Institute of Social Sciences. On Wednesday I am traveling to Shandong Province where I will deliver two lectures. I return to the U.S. on June 16.