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China cracks down on emissions to combat choking smog

Reuters, via The Guardian
Chinese cities should close schools, cut working hours and stop outdoor activities during the most severe spells of air pollution, the ministry of environmental protection has said.

"Every possible compulsory measure" must be taken to cut emissions during the heaviest smog – including suspending factory production and imposing traffic restrictions.

The ministry’s guidelines, issued in a circular, come as China grapples with frequent choking smog in its big cities, a consequence of years of breakneck economic growth that has fuelled public anger…
(6 November 2013)

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Beijing sunrise image via shelisrael/flickr

China’s first coal-to-gas plant soon to pump gas to Beijing

Chen Aizhu, Reuters
China’s first coal-to-gas (CTG) project will soon start pumping gas to capital city Beijing to help meet winter heating demand, coming online after a one-year delay due to an unfinished pipeline, said an industry official involved on the project.

China is spending $14 billion on projects to turn coal in remote regions into natural gas, a costly bet that could help meet the country’s surging demand for the fuel.

State-owned utility Datang Power, parent of Datang International Power Generation Co Ltd , expects to switch on the taps in the coming weeks at its pilot CTG plant in north China’s Inner Mongolia to deliver an initial 4 million cubic metres of gas each day to Beijing…
(7 November 2013)

China’s smog reduction plan could add to water stress and boost emissions

Andrew Maddocks, Hua Wen, Tianyi Luo, and Tien Shiao, The Guardian
For the past two weeks, much of northeast China has been smothered by a record-setting blanket of smog so dense it is visible from space. As dangerously high levels of pollution persist in many areas, the message is clear: national action is more urgent than ever.

In September, China’s central government announced its latest major initiative to curb air pollution. The Air Pollution Control Action Plan targets a 25% reduction in particulate matter in the North China Plain and a 65% reduction of coal’s share of the national energy mix by 2017.

That plan’s largest mandate prohibits new coal-fired power plants in the three most important metropolitan areas around Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Among the plan’s proposed alternative energy sources are cleaner-burning natural gas plants, including synthetic natural gas (SNG) converted from coal.

While SNG can mitigate particulate air pollution, it prompts several other types of concerns. A recent analysis from the World Resources Institute (WRI) assessed SNG’s potential risks. It found that the fuel poses serious implications for China’s water security, livelihoods and climate…
(5 November 2013)

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Satellite view of China smog 8 October, 2013 via Nasa

China Faces Gas Shortage after Cutting Coal Consumption

Michael Lelyveld, Radio Free Asia
China is bracing for natural gas shortages this winter as the government tries to fight smog by reducing consumption of coal.

On Oct. 21, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s central government administrative agency, said it would take steps to limit gas use as a result of shortages that have already appeared in cities including Urumqi and Beijing, Reuters reported.

The NDRC plans to control the increase of new gas users following rapid switching from coal to the cleaner-burning fuel.

Cities in the north and northwest have been turning quickly to gas-fired heating systems under pressure to improve air quality, an unnamed analyst for China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) was quoted as saying.

The NDRC is reportedly encouraging utilities to cut back on gas-fired power production to ease expected shortages during the winter heating season…
(4 November 2013)

China’s oil demand to 2020

Claira Lloyd, Energy Global
CGES have said that China’s oil demand will be over 2.8 million bpd higher from today’s level by 2020. In 2012 demand was 9.8 million bpd and is expected to reach 12.5 million bpd by 2020. The increase is expected to be the result of oil demand for road transportation and to a lesser extent due to increased demand for the industrial, household and other sectors…
(5 November 2013)

Beijing slashes car sales quota in anti-pollution drive

Samuel Shen and Adam Jourdan, Reuters
China’s capital, Beijing, infamous for its thick smog and heavy traffic, will slash the city’s new car sales quotas by almost 40 percent next year, as it looks to curb vehicle emissions and hazardous levels of pollution, the city government website said.

The change in policy gives greater support for new, cleaner cars and could strengthen foreign carmakers’ determination to accelerate growth in China’s less crowded lower-tier cities…

Over the next four years, Beijing will issue 150,000 new license plates annually, down from 240,000 each year now, according to the city government’s website. Car buyers must put on plates before they are allowed to drive on Chinese roads.

That means Beijing’s new passenger vehicles sales during the 2014-2017 period will be capped at 600,000 units, few than the city’s vehicle sales in 2010 alone…
(5 November 2013)

Shale Gas Revolution Not Coming To China Anytime Soon

Simon Montlake, Forbes Staff
Shale gas has upended U.S. energy markets, cutting oil imports to their lowest level in two decades. Can China pull off the same feat?…

But the challenge for China doesn’t just lie below the ground, in terms of extracting shale gas (its deposits are deep and found mostly in the arid west and southwest). Moniz drew attention to “above-ground issues” for bringing gas to market in which China lags behind the U.S. ”It’s often forgotten that in the US not only did we have obviously a favourable geology for producing these resources, but we also had by far the most mature natural-gas infrastructure in terms of pipelines, market structures, trading hubs, futures contracts, regulation of production etc,” he told reporters…
(30 October 2013)

China faces a long battle for blue skies

Smoggy weather has become a lingering problem in China and the country faces a tough battle in its fight against serious air pollution, especially the northern parts, analysts argue…

In September, the government released a plan for air pollution monitoring and early warning in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and some surrounding areas in a bid to intensify cooperation in the emergency response to heavily polluted air.

However, experts say coordinating efforts of local governments is not going to be easy, and the fight for blue skies will be a protracted task for the country.

In Hebei, the provincial government plans to cut its steel production capacity by 60 million tonnes by the end of 2017 to improve air quality.

Calculations by showed that eliminating each tonne of steel capacity means a loss of more than 3,000 yuan ($488).

Cutting 60 million tonnes of capacity will result in a loss of 200 billion yuan, in addition to the loss of many jobs.

"Who is going to foot the bill for such enormous a loss and the burdens that may come along?" Guo said…
(7 November 2013)