11:33 13.03.2018

China Environmental Watchdog Is Getting Stronger

Source: Bloomberg
China Environmental Watchdog Is Getting Stronger

China is creating a stronger environmental watchdog as it aims to cap world-leading carbon dioxide emissions and clear smoggy skies.

The newly created Ministry of Ecology & Environment will be tasked with cutting emissions and leading the nation’s fight against climate change, responsibilities held previously by the powerful National Development & Reform Commission, according to a proposal released Tuesday during the National People’s Congress.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to punish polluters “with an iron hand” and Premier Li Keqiang said last week at the opening of the annual legislative meeting that the country’s priorities included “defending the blue sky.” The environmental reboot is one part of a sweeping regulatory overhaul that includes merging financial regulators, revamping the tax department and creating an office that oversees Xi’s “Belt and Road” foreign investment initiative.

"The most interesting move, and the one that bears the biggest international implication, is the merger of NDRC’s climate change department into the new Ministry of Ecology & Environment," said Li Shuo, a senior policy adviser at Greenpeace East Asia. "This is in line with the idea of consolidating power in one ministry for a stronger and better coordinated environmental agenda."

While there have been signs of improvement, China is fighting a long war against pollution. On the same day as the new reforms were being announced in Beijing, the city said its air was heavily polluted and has issued an orange alert, the second-highest level, until Wednesday.

Bye Bye Blue Skies

Beijing pollution levels are rising after the capital enjoyed its cleanest winter air in years

China is aiming to cap its carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030. It will raise spending to curb pollution by 19 percent to 40.5 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) this year and aims to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 3 percent, according to Li’s work report last week.

According to the State Council on Tuesday, the new environment ministry’s new roles include:

Integrate scattered ecological protection responsibilities.

Unify supervision and administrative law enforcement responsibilities.

Strengthen pollution controls and secure ecological safety.

Supervise and prevent groundwater pollution, previously under the Ministry of Land & Resources.

The country also created a Ministry of Natural Resources:

Combines the Ministry of Land & Resources, State Oceanic Administration and National Administration of Surveying, Mapping & Geoinformation with some area planning responsibilities of the National Development & Reform Commission.

Supervise development and protection of natural resources.

Take on urban and rural planning, as well water, grassland and forestry rights management from related ministries.

“It seems that a lot of capabilities were carved from the NDRC” for the new ministries, said Sophie Lu, a Beijing-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It will be interesting to see if the NDRC becomes less influential in the future, as it has easily become the most influential ministerial-level department under the State Council since 2008."

Recent Posts

See All
Cyberattacks on Japan coronavirus vaccine projects point to China
14:41 19.10.2020
Cyberattacks on Japan coronavirus vaccine projects point to China
This article highlights how numerous research institutions in Japan, currently working to develop a vaccine for Coronavirus, have been hit by cyberattacks believed to be sent from a Chinese hacker group. The attacks have been happening since April this year, fortunately with no reported information leaks as of yet. Japan’s National Centre of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity continues to urge the country’s research organisations to stay alert and be ready for more incoming attacks aiming to steal confidential information. The article crucially points out that state-led espionage is increasing as governments race to develop effective Coronavirus vaccines.
Source: The Japan Times
When the U.S. and China Fight, It Is the Environment That Suffers
13:58 12.10.2020
When the U.S. and China Fight, It Is the Environment That Suffers
This article highlights the evidence behind Trump’s recent criticism of China’s contribution to the global environmental crisis. The piece notes that steel production, coal production and coal consumption have increased in China since 2017 with this looking set to continue as the government aims to re-generate the economy following the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite President Xi Jinping’s recent pledge that China will be carbon neutral by 2060, this article suggests there is no indication that any central measures brought in by the government have sufficiently reduced the country’s pollution levels and emission rates. According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, from June this year the country had greater coal-fuelled capacity planned than the entire current capacity of the USA and India respectively.
Source: The New York Times
Coronavirus: air pollution imporived during China’s lockdowns – and it may have reduced hospital visits
18:15 09.10.2020
Coronavirus: air pollution imporived during China’s lockdowns – and it may have reduced hospital visits
It is a fact – the lockdown in China has resulted in a reduction in air pollution and this in turn has kept many thousands of Chinese people out of hospital with other illnesses. The one ‘benefit’ to the pandemic is it gives scientists the chance to look at what happens to the environment and human health when travel and industry grind to a halt and air pollution is reduced. In China, the health burden is steep where air pollution has caused an estimated 1.24m deaths in 2017. Given such high levels, the lockdown would have been substantial and likely to have a beneficial effect on respiratory health.
Source: SCMP