Posts Tagged ‘China’

NBC news reports a spike in air pollution readings over 20 times the recommended exposure levels suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Beijing on Thursday, cloaking China’s capitol in a thick, gray haze .  Click here to read the NBC story.

The resultant air warning was just the first of 2014. In January 2013, China suffered through a week of sustained poor air quality that finally forced China’s ruling Communist Party to acknowledge and address serious environmental issues, including the country’s extensive use of coal-fired power plants..

As the United States reduces its use of coal to power electric plants, the coal industry has been looking to increase exports to countries like China and India.  However the environmental and health impacts as well as the economic realities of propping up this industry paint a bleak future for this centuries old fuel source.

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Foreign imports of coal could drive energy prices up

China and India may increase imports of coal by 78 percent to 337 million metric tons next year, with China buying more than it exports next year.  This would  further drive up prices from the highest in two years as the imports divert supplies from Europe to Asia.

China added about 51 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity last year, more than half the total capacity of the U.K.  China will need 2 billion tons of coal over the next 10 years to fuel the country’s industrial development, and this increased capacity is expected to make them unable to meet their own needs from domestic supplies.

Currently, Texas gets 43% of its electricity from coal-fired plants and imports nearly two-thirds of the coal its power plants burn, sending billions of dollars out of state.  In just 40 years, Texas could be importing more than 80 percent of the energy required to meet its needs.  Imports will make the state–and the U.S. as a whole– highly vulnerable to price fluctuations and political upheaval. 

The state should carefully watch the importation of coal into Asia and Southeast Asia as it makes decisions about its energy future.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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The Texas Progressive Alliance heads into March Madness with its own bracket of news and links for the week.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how Republicans can be so violently against having services they desperately need?

Off the Kuff analyzed county returns in the primaries for Governor, Lite Guv, and the Commissioners.

When are you “too gay” for your job? The Texas Cloverleaf finds out. (more…)

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solarpanelsWe’ve said before that if Texas adopts a policy goal of 2,000 MW of distributed solar by 2020 (the equivalent of solar on 500,000 homes), the state will be able to create as many as 21,500 jobs, stabilize energy prices, and avoid 29 million tons of climate change pollution.

But wait, there’s more!

At the Texas Energy Future conference yesterday, keynote speaker Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corporation (manufacturer of the world’s most efficient solar panels and cells) said that if Texas adopted a 2000 MW goal, that would be enough of a capacity commitment to justify the capital costs needed to build a new manufacturing plant here.

Roger Efird, President of Suntech America (the leading world manufacturer of solar panels and cells) also said that he wants Suntech to be the first company to export jobs out of China and into Texas.  He concurred that a 2,000 MW goal would be enough of a state commitment to locate new manufacturing facilities right here in the Lone Star State.  Suntech’s solar cells themselves are already produced in Pasadena, and the aluminum is locally made as well — but then shipped off to China, where the glass is made and final assembly occurs.  That’s a pretty inefficient process — shipping heavy containers out to China, and then shipping back every heavier and more fragile solar panels back again for installation in the United States.  Suntech would much rather be able to do all of their business in-state, but right now the economics just aren’t right for that to happen.  Time for the Texas Legislature to get cracking on an aggressive solar committment and incentive program!

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A week and a half ago I sat in on the first Carbon Management Caucus  meeting of the 81st Legislature and listened to a professor from Penn State tell legislators, their staffers, and a few intrepid members of the general public that “we need coal, coal isn’t going anywhere, in China they’re using tons and tons of coal and opening a new plant every week, why should we drop coal if China isn’t, coal coal coal” … you get the picture.  I paraphrase, of course.  But essentially, a new twist on the China cop-out.

Yes, China uses lots of coal.  LOTS.  And China’s strategic decision to go crazy on coal plants has done much for rural electrification and providing electricity to populations that have never had it before.  But China’s commitment to coal is also slowly killing its people, and they’re aware of it.

Reports Grist,

babyEvery 30 seconds a baby is born with physical defects in China, partly due to the country’s deteriorating environment, state media said, citing a senior family planning official.

The figure, reported by the China Daily in its weekend edition, adds up to almost 1.1 million in a year, or about seven percent of all births in the world’s most populous nation.

Let me add emphasis to the fact that this information was coming from China’s state media (let me repeat, China’s STATE MEDIA, as in, the official government-sanctioned voice approved by the ruling commmunist party).  I find this particularly shocking because it is very likely that, from such a highly regulated source, even this jaw-dropping figure is under-reported.

The article continues,

North China’s coal-rich Shanxi province, a major source of toxic emissions from large-scale chemical industries, has recorded the highest rate of birth defects, the China Daily said in its weekend edition.

“The problem of birth defects is related to environmental pollution, especially in eight main coal zones,” said An Huanxiao, the director of Shanxi provincial family planning agency, according to the paper.

Pan Jianping, a professor of the Women and Child Health Research Office under Xi’an Jiaotong University, warned that the increasing rate of birth defects among Chinese infants would soon become a social problem.

So there you go.  Let’s quit coal — do it for the babies.

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Throughout the global warming debate, I have often heard an argument I like to call “the China cop-out.”

It goes somewhere along the lines of, “Developing nations like China and India are growing so quickly, adding so many new coal-fired power plants, and emitting so much carbon dioxide that it isn’t worth it for the US to take action on climate change until they are on board as well.”

To which my response has always been, “Since when does America look to China to lead?”leadership

Recent news shows that if America is willing to rise to the challenge of mitigating climate change impacts and become a leader once again, other nations will follow. To prove my point, this just in: Japan jumps on the green stimulus bandwagon.

Just as President Obama has been shepherding the stimulus package, loaded up with green goodies, through the House and Senate, Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan has announced his intention to draft a “Green New Deal” to counter both climate change and the global economic downturn.

Grist reports that Aso will “order a stimulus package focusing on slashing greenhouse gases at a meeting of his global warming advisory panel Wednesday.” At this meeting his government will also ” present various plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2020.”

If America commits to lead by example, who knows how many other leaders we may be able to influence?

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A truly frightening article from The International News and their Karachi (Pakistan) bureau:

Global warming and the ongoing thinning of Tibetan glaciers will result in as many as 15 million ‘environmental refugees’ in South Asia in the near future, said Chairperson Hisaar Foundation and member of Stockholm-based Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, Simi Kamal.

Full article can be found here.

Besides Pakistan (who we obviously do not want to destabilize), other major powers who get their water from the Himalayan glaciers include India,  China, and other trouble spots like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Burma.

Emissions in Texas affect the climate worldwide, and as we all have painfully learned, what happens in other countries can end up right back on our doorstep.  We need to start cooling it, especially considering that if Texas were its own country we would be the 7th largest polluter of greenhouse gases in the world.  Thankfully, we also lead in renewable energy potential and can start saving money today by investing in energy efficiency.

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