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ENVIRONMENT

By Matthew Walsh / Nov 11, 2019 04:38 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As China’s e-commerce giants generate hundreds of billions of yuan in sales from Monday’s “Double 11” shopping extravaganza, environmental groups are reminding consumers that online shopping comes at a cost to the planet.

The country’s e-commerce and express delivery sectors used a whopping 9.4 million tons of packing materials last year, with the courier sector producing an estimated 13 million tons of carbon emissions, according to a report by three environmental NGOs whose release was timed to coincide with the world’s largest shopping fest. A business-as-usual scenario will see both sectors churn out an estimated 41.3 million tons of packaging annually by 2025, the report said.

Although some 80% of paper-based packaging waste gets recycled, plastic packaging is not recycled 95% of the time, the report found. In urban areas, most plastic mixes with other kinds of solid waste and ends up in either landfills or incinerators.

The report, co-published by Greenpeace East Asia, Break Free From Plastic China, and the All-China Environment Federation, also takes aim at the “limited” efforts made by e-commerce and delivery companies to address their mounting waste problems. “Superficially” green initiatives like narrowing the plastic tape used on parcels and rolling out digital ordering systems “obviously do not get to the core of the issue,” the study found.

The report makes a number of recommendations on how to reduce packaging waste. Lawmakers should speed up legislation demanding or incentivizing sustainable packaging practices like reusable containers, and the introduction of national standards could clamp down on wasteful behaviors like overpackaging and the use of harmful or single-use materials, researchers say.

In addition, they suggest that companies recognize they are responsible for the entire life cycles of the packaging materials they use, and that consumers actively seek information about the sustainability of the delivery services they use.

Tang Damin, a Beijing-based plastics campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia, urged Chinese tech companies to adopt more creative approaches to packaging waste. “I’m curious who will be the first to step forward with a bold idea,” he told Caixin. “Chinese people aren’t the consumerist stereotype that ‘Singles Day’ sells,” he said, using another name for Double 11. “They want something more.”

Tang also called on the government to adapt its direct approach to nudge the e-commerce sector toward greener packaging practices. “The state’s hands-on role will be a huge factor in industry response,” he said. “Currently, there’s no real requirement for e-commerce or delivery companies to address this waste problem.”

When asked about the environmental impact of its packaging waste, Cainiao, the Alibaba-controlled logistics affiliate that handles deliveries for the e-commerce giant’s shopping platforms, told Caixin that the company values sustainability and is working to make the sector more environmentally friendly.

Cainiao has already rolled out a number of successful initiatives to combat packaging waste, including its self-developed smart-packaging algorithm, e-shipping labels, and cooperative agreements with merchants to reduce plastic use, the company added.

JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce company, declined to comment directly on the study. But it referred Caixin to an October announcement that the company had joined the Science Based Targets Initiative, a global campaign designed to promote corporate action on climate change.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Increases Stake in Cainiao Network to 63% From 51%

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ENVIRONMENT

By Dave Yin / Nov 09, 2019 01:27 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s hundreds of electric car makers, already fighting for survival, must now dedicate resources to the post-consumer process.

China’s industry regulator called on manufacturers of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) and others to set up and standardize recycling plants for batteries of electric cars. These facilities will be shared by NEV manufacturers, battery makers, wrecking yards, integrated companies and more.

Guidelines published Thursday (link in Chinese) by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) outline two types of recycling facilities that the industry must establish, depending on the need, although they must both be located in administrative areas where companies sell electric cars – starting at prefecture-level cities.

Smaller, “collection-style” recycling centers are for temporary storage and are limited to holding a total of 5 tons of batteries, whereas larger “concentrated storage-style” plants will have a minimum capacity of 30 tons and are designed for long-term storage. The larger centers are required in areas where NEV companies keep more than 8,000 vehicles or where existing recycling facilities lack storage capacity and safety standards.

Dedicated electric car battery recycling facilities are required to collect, sort, store, package and ship worn-out units, though they are forbidden from disassembling them for any purpose aside from conducting safety inspections. They are also expected to use digital tools to trace and collect data on their inventory and hand the information over to manufacturers, which must in turn report recycling data in a “timely fashion,” the ministry said.

Existing facilities were given six months to meet the guidelines’ requirements.

The directive updates 2018 provisions on NEV battery recycling, in which the ministry also urged the auto and battery industries to jointly build recycling pilot projects in several major Chinese cities. However, this week’s mandate follows a government commitment to phase out subsidies for all types of NEVs, which include all-electric, fuel cell and hybrid cars, to pare back the roughly 500 companies that have sprung up in response to government grants.

BYD, China’s biggest NEV maker, reported an 89% drop in third-quarter earnings and warned that profit could fall as much as 43% in 2019. BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology, China’s biggest maker of all-electric cars, also forecast a 2019 loss.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

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By Zhou Tailai, Zhan Kun, and Ren Qiuyu / Nov 01, 2019 12:50 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Bilateral trade between the United States and China is responsible for 2.5% of global shipping carbon-dioxide emissions and 4.8% of premature deaths caused by air pollution emissions from shipping, according to a new report published in online journal Nature Sustainability.

The research, led by Liu Huan of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University, examined trade data, ship emission models, and satellite-observed vessel activities to evaluate shipping emissions and its impact on human health. The paper also developed a methodology for determining the responsibility of trade pairs and ships for carbon dioxide emissions.

The study found that the emissions from shipping between the U.S. and China had contributed to pollution all over the world, with a notable contribution to airborne PM2.5 — particulate matter considered particularly harmful to health — around the coastal regions of China and Japan.

In 2016, approximately 5,700 people died prematurely due to air pollution from China-U.S. bilateral shipping emissions. Of these deaths, 64% occurred in China and only 2% in the United States. The remaining 34% were in Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Liu told Caixin that the very small number of premature deaths in the U.S. is due to low-emission policies for ships entering the area 200 nautical miles around the coast that require ships to switch to clean fuel. China, however, did not establish emissions control zones around its coasts until 2016, so ships were able to use the same fuel as is used out at sea. Additionally, China’s coastal areas are densely populated, leading to a higher number of premature deaths.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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By Matthew Walsh / Oct 31, 2019 12:37 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Rising sea levels associated with human-influenced climate change could affect three times more people on the Chinese mainland by 2050 than previously thought, a new study claims, with potentially profound implications for highly urbanized coastal areas like Shanghai, Tianjin, and the Pearl River Delta that includes Hong Kong.

Researchers at the New Jersey-based organization Climate Central used a new and more accurate method of determining land elevation and concluded that by midcentury, “land now home to 93 million people (in China) could be lower than the height of the local average coastal flood.” Previous studies based on less-accurate land elevation readings put that figure at approximately 29 million people.

The paper was published Tuesday in the British peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications. The authors’ projections do not factor in future population rises or land lost to coastal erosion.

Researchers looked at predicted sea level rises worldwide and concluded that the greatest effects will be felt in Asia, with people in China most at risk. Three decades from now, central Shanghai — by some estimates the country’s most populous city — would be vulnerable to inundation by ocean flooding without the construction of new coastal defenses.

The same goes both for the northern Chinese municipality of Tianjin, which serves as the main seaport for Beijing, and for the Pearl River Delta region, a densely populated cluster of cities that serves as a key industrial base.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Grassroots Carbon Control Projects Could Help China Beat Paris Pledge: Study

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By Zeng Lingke, Zhang Zizhu, and Ren Qiuyu / Oct 18, 2019 12:22 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Key cities in northern China will aim to cut the average concentration of PM2.5, a toxic air pollutant, by 4% year-on-year during the 2019-2020 fall-winter period, according to an action plan released Wednesday by the country’s Ministry of Environment and Ecology (MEE).

The plan applies to a group of 28 cities, including the Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, from Oct. 1 to March 31 next year, a period that typically sees high rates of air pollution. The 4% target aims to drive down last winter’s average PM2.5 concentration of 82 micrograms per cubic meter, but does not reference the lower pollution levels witnessed during the winter of 2017-2018, when the average PM2.5 concentration was as low as 78 micrograms per cubic meter, a 25% drop on the year prior.

The plan also sets pollution-control requirements for the industrial, energy, and transportation sectors, including “emergency management” measures to cope with severe pollution. The ministry will classify enterprises into three categories depending on the intensity of their emissions, the Wednesday announcement said.

Stay tuned for more on the action plan coming to Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

Related: Grassroots Carbon Control Projects Could Help China Beat Paris Pledge: Study

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By Bloomberg / Oct 16, 2019 10:16 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — There are almost as many places to charge your electric vehicle in Beijing as there are in the entire United States.

China, the world’s biggest market for EVs, has about eight public chargers for each one in the U.S., according to the latest counts. That imbalance likely will become more pronounced as China champions the technology spurring automakers to pivot away from gas guzzlers and accelerates its rollout of electric pumps, enlisting energy giants Royal Dutch Shell and BP along the way.

A new-energy vehicle development plan under consideration by Chinese officials and intended to shape the sector through 2035 will set new goals for boosting the number of public and private chargers, a person familiar with the proposal said in September. The nation is said to be weighing a target for 60% of all automobiles sold to run on electric motors by then.

All told, China’s electric fleet may swell to 162 million vehicles by 2040, according to forecasts by BloombergNEF.

“The availability of charging facilities has been rising pretty quickly,” said Jing Kai, deputy head of the Beijing unit at Qingdao TGOOD Electric, which has the country’s largest network of charging plugs. “The goal is to help EV users charge their cars wherever they go, making it as easy as buying a bottle of water.”

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees policy making for the auto sector, didn’t immediately respond to a faxed query.

EVs are essential to President Xi Jinping’s blueprint for creating a manufacturing superpower by 2025. The nation is building at least 20 “EV towns” for carmakers and ancillary industries, and it spent more than $30 billion subsidizing EV sales. China accounts for more than half of global EV sales.

U.S. automakers are moving at a slower pace, with Tesla Inc. generating most EV sales. The U.S. subsidizes some purchases, yet those benefits phase out, and BNEF forecasts sales will slump this year.

China had 466,101 public charging points by the end of last month, according to the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance. That includes more than 54,000 in Beijing alone.

By comparison, there were 60,652 electric nozzles in the U.S. as of June 25, according to BNEF. California has the most of any state with 19,000 — or about the same amount China adds in an average month.

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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By Matthew Walsh / Oct 09, 2019 02:07 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A government-backed citizen science app that allows people to report “black and smelly” bodies of water is helping flag overlooked sites of urban water pollution and strengthen accountability for cleaning them up, even as the app’s limited uptake and partial follow-up work hinders remediation efforts.

That’s according to new research published Friday by the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

Researchers found users of the Black and Smelly Waters App were indeed flagging bodies of water with poor water quality, and that the reports appeared to be spurring action. Within months, those targeted tended to see significant falls in chemical oxygen demand — a sign of improved water quality.

The paper builds on previous research published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning that concluded growing use of the app “has promise in addressing the implementation and participation gaps in China’s environmental management.”

“In China, it’s often difficult to ensure that national environmental policies are implemented at the local level,” Angel Hsu, assistant professor of environmental studies at Yale-NUS College and the lead author of both papers, told Caixin by email. “Our research suggests emerging forms of technology could harness citizen engagement to help overcome this longstanding challenge to environmental management.”

Launched by China’s environment and housing ministries in 2016, the Black and Smelly Waters app can be accessed via the ubiquitous social messaging platform WeChat. It allows citizens to record the location of potentially polluted bodies of water, upload photographs and descriptions of them, and rank them according to how putrid, off-color, or trash-laden they are. Government agencies are then supposed to follow up on the reports within seven working days. The app also tracks the progress of remediation efforts after officials acquiesce to citizens’ complaints.

Despite the app’s promise, challenges remain at both the uptake and implementation levels, the studies found. In a sample of more than 8,500 reports taken between February 2016 and May 2018, some 22% were made in Beijing, while high proportions also originated from the relatively developed provinces of Shandong, Hunan, and Guangdong. Less-developed provinces with fewer city dwellers produced “very few” reports, researchers noted.

Additionally, the number of complaints the researchers analyzed still “far outnumbered” reports of progress in remediating polluted sites. Approximately 60% of reports were still being addressed by officials, while only around one third were listed as “completed,” indicating the total remediation of the site, researchers said.

Decades of breakneck industrial growth left China’s waterways in a bleak state, but in recent years the government has vowed to clean up the mess. China aims to reduce the number of “black and smelly” water bodies to less than 10% of urban waters by 2020 and fully eradicate the problem by 2030.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Public Less Troubled by Climate Change Than Other Nations, Study Shows

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By Matthew Walsh / Sep 25, 2019 02:05 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s agricultural heartlands have become one of the world’s largest “hotspots” of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals, a new study has found, as soaring global meat demand presents potentially severe problems for human health.

The research, published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science, examined resistance trends in low- and middle-income countries where sales of veterinary antibiotics are poorly regulated. It identified a large upwelling of resistance in northeastern China — a major producer of poultry and livestock — and another nascent hotspot in the country’s south.

Alongside India, China represented the world’s largest resistance hotspot, the researchers concluded.

The study linked rising demand for meat to the increase in antibiotic resistance. Average per capita meat consumption in China has increased nearly fivefold since the early 1980s and is expected to rise by a further 10% by 2026.

But much of that demand is being met by intensive farming, which has driven excessive use of antibiotics that kill off disease-causing germs and help the animals grow faster. Over time, that overuse has led to the rise of disease-resistant superbugs that cannot be eradicated by even the strongest antibiotics, some of which can infect humans.

Policymakers have a “window of opportunity” to transition to sustainable animal-farming practices and rein in growing resistance, the researchers said, suggesting that high-income countries with longer histories of using antibiotics on farms could set up a “global fund to subsidize the improvement of farm-level biosafety and biosecurity.”

The growing threat of common ailments being rendered untreatable by antiobiotics has led some medical experts to call for global action. Earlier this year, one of the U.K.’s most senior government advisors on health matters, Dame Sally Davies, compared the threat of antibiotic resistance to that of climate change and called for the establishment of an intergovernmental body similar to the IPCC to tackle the problem.

The research comes amid a long-running animal-health disaster in China, as African swine fever continues to rip through the country’s pig herd. Up to 200 million pigs in China could die this year from disease or slaughter, fueling a potential 30% fall in pork production, according to Dutch bank Rabobank.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China to Release 10,000 Tons of Pork From Reserves Amid Short Supply

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By Matthew Walsh / Sep 20, 2019 03:58 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As climate activists walk out of their schools and workplaces around the world on Friday and nations prepare for a major UN summit next week, a new study reveals the impact local governments and companies can have on mitigating planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Efforts to slash emissions by cities, regions, and companies in China could help the country exceed its international emissions-reduction commitments and potentially mitigate the damaging effects of climate change, according to a study published Wednesday by Yale University and Germany-based research organization the NewClimate Institute.

Researchers concluded that such efforts could cut China’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by an amount equivalent to roughly 50 million tons of carbon dioxide per year beyond what current national policies would achieve.

That amount is roughly equivalent to less than 0.5% of China’s current greenhouse gas emissions, prompting researchers to describe the impact as “moderate.” But integrating local- and company-level emissions-cutting projects into international networks of cities, regions, companies, investors, and civil society actors could have a “significantly larger impact,” potentially reducing emissions in 2030 by the equivalent of up to 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year beyond current national policies, according to the report.

On Friday, climate change activists in more than 130 countries will participate in a global general strike in what is expected to be the biggest day of climate-related protests in history.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: The Road Toward Creating the World’s Biggest Carbon Market

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By Zhao Runhua / Sep 17, 2019 12:56 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Monday passed a draft policy that would require all new vehicles registered for ride-hailing services to be fully electric, local state-run publication Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.

The move comes as several Chinese cities seek to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels in a bid to boost electric-vehicle uptake and cut air pollution. Last year, the southwestern city of Kunming announced a similar plan to make all new ride-hailing vehicles run purely on electricity in 2019. The report did not give a timeframe for Shenzhen’s transition.

Shenzhen’s draft rules also include a host of other measures. In order to protect consumer rights, ride-hailing companies would be required to transparently display their pricing rules and the number of vehicles available within a three-kilometer radius of users. Chinese media outlets have previously reported that some ride-hailing companies use internal algorithms to charge varying fees for similar trips depending on users’ personal profiles.

Currently, 17 ride-hailing companies have received permits to operate in Shenzhen, but only 10 have formally launched their services, according to the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily. The city currently has around 58,000 registered ride-hailing vehicles.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: Shanghai Threatens Didi With App Removal as Ride-Hailing Violations Mount

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By Ren Qiuyu / Sep 11, 2019 01:54 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is known for its picturesque setting on the Pearl River Delta, the soaring Canton Tower, and now a mosquito factory.

Yes, that’s a factory that breeds real, bloodsucking Asian tiger mosquitos. It’s located in a nondescript building in a sprawling “science park” and filled with millions of the pesky insect.

But don’t worry: The winged critters produced here are part of an experiment that aims to ease summer nuisances, not make them worse.

The factory’s male mosquitos are first infected with a strain of a bacterium called Wolbachia, developed over a number of years by Chinese scientist Zhiyong Xi. Batches of mosquitos are then released into the wild in an area on a small island 60 kilometers away. When they mate with females, the resulting eggs are sterile — halting the life cycle of the much-maligned insect.

A recently released study found that the experiment reduced the local population of Asian tiger mosquitos, officially known as “Aedes albopictus,” by up to 94%, potentially marking a huge step forward for controlling mosquito populations and combatting the diseases they carry, such as dengue fever and Zika.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

Related: Update: Authorities Confirm Dengue Fever Outbreak in East China

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By Matthew Walsh / Sep 09, 2019 03:00 PM / Environment

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

China’s rapidly growing data center industry should boost its renewable energy intake over the next few years to prevent millions of tons of planet-warming carbon emissions, according to a study published Monday by the environmental NGO Greenpeace East Asia and the North China Electric Power University.

Data centers’ heavy reliance on coal-fired electricity resulted in the emission of an estimated 99 million tons of carbon dioxide last year, researchers found. With the industry on track to grow by two-thirds over the next five years, that figure could rise to 163 million tons by 2023 if renewable energy intake remains steady at 23%.

However, comparatively modest proportional rises in renewable energy use could help data centers reduce carbon emissions by millions of tons, according to the report. Increasing intake to 30% by 2023 would stop up to 16 million tons of carbon — the equivalent of 10 million round-trip transatlantic flights — from entering the atmosphere, the researchers said.

Data center firms should accelerate the transition toward clean energy by building or investing in renewables, procuring electricity directly from renewable energy generators, and purchasing so-called green power certificates, the researchers recommended. Additionally, China’s government should foster the development of new data centers in central and western provinces with surpluses of clean energy, they added, thereby avoiding the centers’ continued buildup in eastern provinces that tend to rely more heavily on polluting forms of power generation.

“Power market reforms and rapid growth in wind and solar power have created unprecedented opportunities for China’s internet giants to procure clean energy. The data center sector can and should play a leading role in China’s energy transition from heavy reliance on coal to renewable energy,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Ye Ruiqi.

Data centers are facilities housing networked computer servers that organize, process, and store large amounts of information. China’s data center industry grew by more than 10% per year between 2015 and 2017, the report says, citing the China Electronics Standardization Institute. The sector’s market value was 123 billion yuan ($17 billion) last year and is projected to be worth 276 billion yuan by 2021, according to market research company Kezhi Consulting.

Related: Sunny Skies Overseas Boost Chinese Solar-Panel Makers

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)


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By Tanner Brown / Sep 09, 2019 09:38 AM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The hottest summer ever to sweep the Northern Hemisphere this year is making efforts to curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions more urgent than ever.

As the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), China plans to build the world’s largest national carbon trading market, intended to reduce overall emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide. As world leaders gather later this month at the United Nations in New York for a climate summit, China’s efforts will be a focal point.

And yet, China has far to go in establishing an effective market-based system for curbing carbon emissions. Although the nation started a pilot program for trading carbon credits in 2011 and has since set up seven regional pilot markets, there’s little evidence of real GHG reductions. The carbon trading trials have suffered from a lack of transparency, toothless caps on emissions, small trading volume and significantly lower carbon prices than in other world markets, experts say.

Read the full in-depth story here

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By Bloomberg / Sep 03, 2019 09:52 AM / Environment

By Bloomberg

By Bloomberg

An army of drones deployed to fight a crop-devouring pest in a southern area of China has recorded a mortality rate of as high as 98%, according to the manufacturer.

XAG, a Guangzhou-based drone maker, teamed up with Germany’s Bayer Crop Science in a drone swarm operation to kill the fall armyworm in China’s Guangxi region. The autonomous devices, loaded with low-toxicity insecticide, have also successfully managed the pests in a government-led operation in the southwest province of Yunnan, XAG said.

“It is the ‘crop-devouring monster’ that attacks over 80 crop varieties,” XAG said in a statement Monday. Most farmers resort to traditional insecticide sprayers, which not only fail to move fast enough against the “ravenous, fast-moving fall armyworm” that can fly up to 100 kilometers in one night, but also expose them to dangerous chemicals, it said.

The fall army worm, a crop-devouring pest, has spread from the Americas to Africa and Asia, gorging on rice, corn, vegetables, cotton and more. Since arriving in China, it has advanced north, affecting 950,000 hectares of crops in 24 provinces as of mid-August, including parts of Hebei, Shaanxi and Shandong, according to an official report published late last month. Outbreaks at 90% of the affected areas are now under control, the report said.

Drones can safely operate after sunset to kill the pests, which feed most actively at night, XAG said. According to a local media report, drones have also effectively helped to control the spread of the pests found in some cornfields in the northern province of Henan.

Related: Photo Essay: Armed With a Lamp, a Researcher Wages War on the Fall Armyworm

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By Tianyu M. Fang and An Limin / Aug 22, 2019 05:06 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Gasoline-powered vehicles may soon be history in China.

The country will launch pilot programs to test phasing out vehicles that run on the polluting fuel, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said publicly Tuesday.

The ministry will help municipalities replace gas-powered public transport vehicles and establish zones in cities where gas-fueled vehicles are not permitted to go. If the programs are successful, the MIIT and another government body, the National Development and Reform Commission, will together draw up a timeline for an eventual nationwide phase-out.

The message comes from an MIIT response to a proposal by the National People’s Congress urging Beijing to draw up a timeline to ban sales of gas-fueled cars. While the feedback was signed July 16, it was not made public until Tuesday.

More than 10 Chinese cities have so far announced timelines for electrification of taxis and public transport, while two cities, the southern metropolis of Shenzhen and eastern China’s Taiyuan, have already completed the electrification process.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Related: Subsidy Cuts Could Bleed Out New-Energy Vehicle Market, Industry Insiders Claim

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By Ren Qiuyu and Zhou Tailai / Aug 22, 2019 12:46 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Ozone will be the main pollutant in many parts of China in the latter half of August, according to forecasts from the country’s National Meteorological Center.

Ozone is an atmospheric gas that when high in the stratosphere, protects lower levels from the sun’s ultra-violet rays. However, when it is at ground level — formed by a reaction of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in sunlight — it can cause health problems such as chest pain and coughing if inhaled in high concentrations. Lower concentrations can also damage materials such as rubber and plastics.

Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province (the Jing-Jin-Ji region) are expected to see some light ozone pollution, while the southwestern Chengdu-Chongqing region may see moderate ozone pollution due to high temperatures and strong sunlight.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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By Teng Jing Xuan and Zhou Tailai / Aug 21, 2019 01:16 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s environment ministry has vowed not to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to industrial production cuts aimed at reducing pollution in the coming winter, after heavy production curbs in previous years disrupted local economies.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a guidance document this week that factories should face different levels of restrictions this winter based on a classification system that takes into account their emissions levels, and that local governments should avoid placing restrictions on the use of residential heating boilers and other domestic activities with little impact on air quality.

Winter historically brings heavy smog to much of northern and eastern China. The guidance document also comes amid an economic slowdown that has put pressure on heavy industry.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (jingxuanteng@caixin.com)

Related: Hitting Air Pollution Target Could Save China $2.4 Billion a Year, Study Says

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By Zhao Runhua / Aug 15, 2019 12:30 PM / Environment

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

The dangers of coal mining have long been a concern in China, with accidents and fatalities commonplace, largely due to poor infrastructure and low risk awareness.

The industry was long called “blood coal,” referencing the lives sacrificed by the seemingly ordinary though laborious occupation.

Though it may not be realized overnight, a solution is now in the works. Stronger safety protocols? No.

Robots.

China’s National Coal Mine Safety Administration on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership with the country’s leading space technology agency, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), to make “smart” industrial equipment, including coal-mining robots.

As with most high-tech endeavors in China, few details were made available about the advanced equipment.

CASC is the leading force behind China’s national defense equipment and aerospace projects, including the Chang’e-4 probe, which became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.

The coal mining agency’s head, Huang Yuzhi, said the cooperation will allow the industry to better tackle risks, reduce miners’ workloads, and alleviate pressure from a decreasing labor supply. The industry’s smart transformation has “just started,” Huang added, and thus should “eagerly” seek cross-industry cooperation for tech support.

CASC Chairman Wu Yansheng said the tie-up would be another example of the integration of military and civil technology, and will improve the industry’s safety conditions.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)


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By Ren Qiuyu and Zhang Zizhu / Aug 15, 2019 12:12 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Throughout much of the 20th century, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey was the stuff of legend. While they had been spotted and captured by French explorers in the 1890s, none were observed alive in the wild for decades afterward.

Then, in the 1980s, a scientist by the name of Long Yongcheng, then working at the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, glimpsed the elusive species near the remote village of Liju, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province.

In the following years, Long and local villagers tracked the monkeys and studied their habits. In 2003, after joining environmental protection group The Nature Conservancy (TNC), he returned to the village to carry out further research.

Now the population of snub-nosed monkeys is growing steadily. In the last 20 years, the total number has doubled to around 3,000, according to the latest data. Yet challenges remain, including the destruction and fragmentation of their forest habitat, animal trafficking, and costly and inefficient conservation work.

Local poverty alleviation work, too, is often at odds with conservation. Snub-nosed monkeys live in poor, rural areas of Yunnan, near communities that fell trees for firewood and other uses. Mount Laojun, which stands roughly in the middle of the monkeys’ 20,000-square-kilometer range, currently has no official nature reserves for the monkeys, although other protected areas do exist in Yunnan and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

In this upcoming story from Caixin Weekly, reporter Zhang Zizhu explores how villagers in Liju are trying to combine development and conservation to protect the endangered snub-nosed monkey.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

Related: China's Monkey Paradise Is a Hidden Gem for Family Travel

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By Matthew Walsh / Aug 14, 2019 12:37 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

It’s perhaps the greatest threat to humanity’s survival in the 21st century, one that’s galvanizing resurgent environmental movements across the West.

But in China, public concern about the climate crisis seems comparatively thin on the ground.

Now, an ambitious new study sets out to answer the question: How much do Chinese people actually care about global warming and climate change?

The paper, published Thursday in the British peer-reviewed journal The China Quarterly, concludes that the Chinese public generally worries less about the climate crisis than other countries do.

It also paints a complex picture of the level of environmental concern in the country, one riven by regional, age, and gender disparities.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Deadly Heat Waves Could Be China's 'New Normal,' Scientist Warns

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