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Beijing says one third of its pollution comes from outside the city

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 16 April 2014 | 22.33

BEIJING: About a third of the air pollution in China's smog-hit capital comes from outside the city, official media reported on Wednesday, citing a pollution watchdog.

Chen Tian, chief of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said that about 28-36 percent of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 came from surrounding provinces like Hebei, home to seven of China's 10 most polluted cities in 2013, according to official data.

The central government has identified the heavily industrialised Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region as one of the main fronts in its war against pollution, and it is under pressure to cut coal consumption and industrial capacity.

Decades of unrestrained growth have hit China's environment hard and Beijing's often choking air has become a symbol of the pollution crisis.

Public anger over pollution in different places has sparked protests and while the government has announced plans to fight it, authorities often struggle to bring big polluting industries and growth-obsessed local authorities to heel.

Chen said that of the smog generated in Beijing, 31 per cent came from vehicles, 22.4 per cent from coal burning and 18.1 per cent from industry, according to China Environmental News, a publication of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Wang Junling, the vice head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Research Institute, said that while pollution from outside Beijing was a main component of its smog, the rapid growth of the city's population, energy use and economic output were also to blame for worsening air quality.

He told China Environmental News last month that from 1998 to 2012, Beijing's economic output rose 6.5 times and the number of vehicles rose 2.8 times. Over the same period, the city's population soared 66 per cent while energy consumption rose 90 per cent.

The city plans to cut coal consumption by 13 million tonnes by 2017, down from about 23 million tonnes in 2013. Hebei province used about 280 million tonnes of coal last year and aims to cut the total by 40 million tonnes over the same period.

Beijing also plans to limit the number of cars on its roads to 5.6 million this year, with the number allowed to rise to 6 million by 2017. It is also trying to enforce a ban on old vehicles with lower fuel standards.

The city government said in a report last week it failed to meet national standards in four of the six major controlled pollutants in 2013. It said its PM2.5 concentrations stood at a daily average of 89.5 micrograms per cubic metre, 156 per cent higher than national standards.

In 2013, PM2.5 concentrations in 74 cities monitored by authorities stood at an average of 72 micrograms per cubic metre (cu m), more than twice China's recommended national standard of 35 mg/cu m.

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Tiger found dead in Bihar's Valmiki tiger reserve

PATNA: A tiger was found dead near a forest in Valmiki tiger reserve in Bihar's West Champaran district Wednesday, an official said.

The forest guards found the body of a tiger near Harantand forest in the state's only tiger reserve, said Santosh Tiwari, VTR's director-cum-conservator.

The tiger's body has been sent for a post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of the big cat's death, he said.

Last month the carcass of a royal Bengal tiger was found in the tiger reserve.

According to Tiwari, there were 22 tigers in the reserve when last surveyed in 2013 on the basis of camera trap census. The number of tigers was only 10 till 2010.

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15-ft-long king cobra caught in Andhra Pradesh released in forest

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 15 April 2014 | 22.33

RAJAHMUNDRY: A rare 15-ft-long king cobra caught recently in a residential area of Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district has been released in a forest after the Visakhapatnam Zoological Park refused to house it.

The veterinarians, who examined the rare reptile, found it to be pregnant, forest officials said.

The experts were of the view that the serpent was likely to deliver a number of young ones which would be dangerous for the other animals in the zoo and that its maintenance would be expensive, they said.

Therefore, the venomous snake was later released in a deep forest area between Visakhapatnam and East Godavari district agency area.

"We had taken the 15-feet long king cobra, which was caught in the agency area of Rampachodavaram, to Visakhapatnam Zoological Park to be kept for public viewing yesterday, but they refused to keep it," the officials said.

The snake was caught on last Saturday by a forest team after four hours of hectic efforts near a house in East Godavari district's agency area of Rampachodavaram.

"We are surprised to see king cobra of such a length in India. Generally these snakes are found in Australia," an official said, adding that they suspect that the carnivore sneaked into the residential area because of deforestation.

King cobra is the world's longest venomous snake. It is considered a dangerous snake and has a fearsome reputation in its range, although it typically avoids confrontation with humans.

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Asian air pollution affecting Northern Hemisphere's weather patterns

LONDON: Air pollution in China and other Asian countries is generating sweeping impact on weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, it has been revealed.

Researchers have found that the pollutants are strengthening storms above the Pacific Ocean, which feeds into weather systems in other parts of the world, the BBC News reported.

Lead author of the study Yuan Wang, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology said that the effects are quite dramatic and the pollution results in thicker and taller clouds and heavier precipitation.

Parts of Asia have some of the highest levels of air pollution in the world including Beijing and Delhi, where pollutants hazardously soar above those recommended by the World Health Organization.

Dr Wang said that the impacts of Asian pollution on the storm track tend to affect the weather patterns of other parts of the world during the wintertime, especially a downstream region like North America.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Jamaica reports big drop in lionfish sightings

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 14 April 2014 | 22.34

KINGSTON (JAMAICA): Jamaica is reporting a big decline in sightings of lionfish, the voracious invasive species that has been wreaking havoc on regional reefs for years and wolfing down native juvenile fish and crustaceans.

Some four years after a national campaign got started to slash numbers of the candy-striped predator with a mane of venomous spines, Jamaica's National Environment and Planning Agency is reporting a 66 per cent drop in sightings of lionfish in coastal waters with depths of 75 feet (23 meters).

Dayne Buddo, a Jamaican marine ecologist who focuses on marine invaders at the Caribbean island's University of the West Indies, attributes much of the local decrease in sightings to a growing appetite for their fillets. He said Sunday that Jamaican fishermen are now selling lionfish briskly at markets. In contrast, a few years ago island fishermen "didn't want to mess" with the exotic fish with spines that can deliver a very painful sting.

"After learning how to handle them, the fishermen have definitely been going after them harder, especially spear fishermen. I believe persons here have caught on to the whole idea of consuming them," Buddo said in a phone interview.

Lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans likely introduced through the pet trade, have been colonizing swaths of the Caribbean and Atlantic for years — from the US Eastern Seaboard and the hard-hit Bahamas to the Gulf of Mexico. They have been such a worrying problem that divers in the Caribbean and Florida are encouraged to capture them whenever they can to protect reefs and native marine life already burdened by pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change.

Across the region, governments, conservation groups and dive shops have been sponsoring fishing tournaments and other efforts to go after slow-swimming lionfish to try and stave off an already severe crisis. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched a campaign in 2010 urging the US public to "eat sustainable, eat lionfish!"

But just because shallow waters hugging coastlines have seen declines, the fast-breeding species is hardly on the way out. Fat, football-sized lionfish are daily caught in fishing pots set in deeper waters that spear fishermen and recreational divers never see.

In Jamaica, targeted efforts to remove them are ongoing even as a national lionfish project financed by the Global Environment Facility and the UN Environment Program project recently ran its course after four-and-a-half years.

"I don't think we'll ever get rid of it, but I think for the most part we can control it, especially in marine protected areas where people are going after it very intensively and consistently," Buddo said.

It remains to be seen exactly how much impact fishing and marketing of lionfish meat can have. For now, it's the biggest hope around. Scientists are still researching what keeps lionfish in check in their native range. In the Caribbean and the Atlantic, they have no natural predators to keep their ballooning numbers in check.

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World Green Economy Summit to start from Tuesday in Dubai

DUBAI: A two-day World Green Economy Summit (WGES) 2014, a global effort to combat climate change, will begin here from Tuesday.

The summit, under the theme "Global Partnerships and Sustainable Future" is the first green summit in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The summit will bring together world leaders in the pursuit of a sustainable future for the humanity to forge global partnerships that accelerate the transition to a green economy.

The summit will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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UN climate report a 'wakeup' for entrepreneurs: John Kerry

Written By kom nampultig on Minggu, 13 April 2014 | 22.33

WASHINGTON: A new UN report tackling greenhouse-gas emissions should serve as a "wakeup call" for entrepreneurs, especially in the energy sector, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

"We've already had wakeup call after wakeup call about climate science. This report is a wakeup call about global economic opportunity we can seize today," he said of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued in Berlin.

"The global energy market represents a $6 trillion (4.34-trillion-euro) opportunity, with six billion users around the world. By 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion."

"We already know that climate science is unambiguous and that every year the world defers action, the costs only grow," Kerry said in a communique issued by the State Department.

"But focusing only on grim realities misses promising realities staring us right in the face. This report makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity."

The report by the Nobel-winning expert panel said the world had a likely chance of meeting the UN's warming limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) if it cuts annual greenhouse-gas emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050, especially from energy.

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Brunei releases postal stamps on its butterflies to create awareness

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Brunei's Postal Services Department issued on Sunday butterfly-themed stamps to raise awareness on the types of butterflies found in the country.

The butterfly thematic stamps went on sale in all post offices from Sunday. They will cost 1.20 Brunei cents, and 10 Brunei cents while a full set will be sold at 1.30 Brunei dollars (about $1.04), Xinhua reported.

The official cover with stamps, the official cover alone, and the stamp booklet also have been put out for sale, priced between 1.30 Brunei dollars (about $1.04) to 4.80 Brunei dollars (about $3.87).

According to a survey conducted in 1996, a total of 342 species were recorded in forest in Brunei, northwest Borneo, and from the species accumulation curve the total number of species present in the area was estimated at 464, or nearly half the total Bornean fauna.

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China water contamination hits 2.4 million after oil leak

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 12 April 2014 | 22.33

BEIJING: A crude oil leak from a pipeline owned by a unit of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is to blame for water contamination that has affected more than 2.4 million people in the Chinese city of Lanzhou, media reported on Saturday.

The official Xinhua news agency cited Yan Zijiang, Lanzhou's environmental protection chief, as saying that a leak in a pipeline owned by Lanzhou Petrochemical Co, a unit of CNPC, was to blame for the water contamination.

The leak poisoned the water source for a water plant, introducing hazardous levels of benzene into the city's water, he told Xinhua.

Levels of benzene, a cancer-inducing chemical, in Lanzhou's tapwater on Friday rose 20 times above national safety levels, Lanzhou authorities said in a statement. The high benzene levels forced the city to turn off the water supply in one district and city officials warned citizens not to drink tapwater for the next 24 hours.

The city official Yan told Xinhua on Saturday that the leak had been located and repairs were underway.

Lanzhou city authorities said on Friday they found 200 micrograms of benzene per litre of water. The national safety standard is 10 micrograms.

By late Saturday morning, Xinhua said benzene levels were confirmed safe at five out of the six water monitoring sites.

The water supply company, Lanzhou Veolia Water Co, is majority-owned by the city government, with Veolia China, a unit of French firm Veolia Environment , holding a 45-percent stake.

On Friday, Veolia said in a statement an initial investigation found the high levels of benzene were caused by contamination at one of the two culverts that transfer raw water from a sedimentation plant to the water treatment plant.

According to Xinhua, investigators found crude oil in soil along a duct between two water works owned by Veolia Water.

"The channel has been carrying water to Veolia Water's No.1 and No.2 plants for decades. Under this ditch lies Lanzhou Petrochemical's oil pipeline," the city's environmental protection chief Yan told Xinhua.

A Veolia spokeswoman in Hong Kong declined to comment on Saturday and referred all questions to city authorities.

Lanzhou, a heavily industrialised city of 3.6 million people in the northwestern province of Gansu, ranks among China's most polluted centres.

CNPC is parent company of PetroChina Co. A PetroChina spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lanzhou Petrochemical is a major refinery in China's landlocked northwest. It has a total refining capacity of 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) and plans to process 195,000 bpd of crude this year, industry sources have said.

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World Bank drops funding for hydro power project on Sutlej

NEW DELHI: Local people and environmental activists under the banner of Sutlej Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti celebrated the victory of their campaign to save river Sutlej after the World Bank dropped funding for the controversial Luhri Hydro project in Himachal Pradesh. The World Bank, which was to provide a USD 650 million to the project, on its website indicated the status of the project as "dropped."

According to a statement issued by the South Asia Network of Rivers, Dams and People (SANDRP) on Friday, World Bank's decision comes after an appraisal by an USAID team that reviewed the environmental and social impacts of the project. The team had visited last November and interacted with stakeholders like the project developer, World Bank, affected people organisations like Himdhara Collective in Himachal Pradesh and SANDRP in Delhi, said the statement. The total cost of the project is 1150 million dollars.

Nek Ram Sharma of the Satluj Bachao Jan Sangharsh Samiti said, "This will boost the confidence of local people in deciding their own future." The samiti which has challenged the environment clearance (EC) granted to the project last year. They were concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed 38 kms long tunnel to be constructed as part of the project.

In response to submissions by the samiti and groups like SANDRP and Himdhara the project capacity was reduced from 775mw to 612mw by MoEF earlier. However, objections were raised again with the government in March 2013, they demanded scrapping of the project.

"We have been under constant pressure from the administration to support this ecologically disastrous project. It is time that our governments wake up and realize the magnitude of the crisis that is unfolding as a result of Hydro projects," said a statement from Himdhara, a local group on Friday.

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