Environment Forum

Dalian oil spill is all cleaned up

A laborer cleans up oil at the oil spill site near Dalian port, Liaoning province July 23, 2010. China's Xingang oil port has resumed some refined fuel loading for the domestic market, but fuel exports remain temporarily halted, industry officials said amid continuing efforts to clean up an oil spill at the country's major port of Dalian. REUTERS/Stringer

The Chinese government this week announced the oil spill is all cleaned up in Dalian harbor, off the north coast of Liaoning province in China.

That was fast.

Not even two weeks ago, on July 17, a blast hit two oil pipelines and spread an estimated 1,500 metric tons of crude oil (462,000 gallons) into the Yellow Sea.  (Update: Greenpeace on July 30 said as many as 60,000 metric tons could have been spilled.)

It’s a minute fraction of the amount of crude that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP Deepwater explosion of April 20, with an estimated 414,000–1,186,000 tons — but it’s still significant enough for 8,000 workers and 800 fishing vessels to dive in to clean-up efforts, some literally.

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At least one person was killed in the cleanup efforts. Firefighter Zhang Liang, 25, drowned July 20 after a wave threw him from a vessel and pushed him out to sea, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Photos from the region show workers manually scooping oil from water over the past two weeks, using seaweed as an absorbent, some kind of paper toweling and bare hands with helmets and bowls.

from Russell Boyce:

Don’t drink the water, even if there is any to drink (Update)

One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to  residents of a housing block in Jakarta.  The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.

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Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day.     REUTERS/Beawiharta

Today, March 22 is World Water Day and Reuters photographers in Asia were given an open brief to shoot feature pictures to illustrate it.  The only requirement I asked of them is that they included in the captions, the fact that while the Earth is literally covered in water, more than a billion people lack access to clean water for drinking or sanitation. At the same time in China 50 million people are facing drought conditions and water shortages and the two stories seemed to tie in with one another.

Chinese solar player Yingli looks to score at World Cup

worldcupChinese solar power companies have shone amid the downturn in the solar industry,  converting their low cost advantage into bigger market share and profits.

Now, China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd is making a play to raise its global profile.  It’s taking its solar panels to the world’s biggest sporting event, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and has signed up to help sponsor the event.

The news makes Yingli the first renewable energy company to sponsor the World Cup — where the world’s best football (or soccer for U.S. fans) teams compete —  as well as the first Chinese company to seal a global sponsorship deal with FIFA, the world’s governing body for football.

Which way will the wind (power) blow in 2010?

windturbinesThe United States became the No. 1 wind power market in the world in 2008. But under the credit crisis in 2009, the building of new wind farms slackened and the United States ceded its top global spot to China.

With the demand for renewable energy still growing, the American Wind Energy Association is eyeing 2010 as a critical year. Here are some of their top trends to watch for:

Second to natural gas: Wind power generates only 2 percent of the U.S. electrical supply. But new wind power generation in the United States has been second only to natural gas generation in terms of new capacity built each year since 2005. Watch for the industry to work to keep that spot.

from Global News Journal:

“Earth to Ban Ki-moon” or how a deal was sealed in Copenhagen

cop15Sweden complained that the recent Copenhagen climate change summit was a "disaster." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as "at best flawed and at worst chaotic." Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dubbed the outcome confirmation of a "climate apartheid." For South Africa it was simply "not acceptable."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who for over a year had been urging the 192 members of the United Nations to "seal the deal" in Copenhagen, saw things differently. In a statement issued by his press office, Ban said the two-week meeting had a "successful conclusion with substantive outcomes." Speaking to reporters, the secretary-general expanded on that: "Finally we sealed the deal. And it is a real deal. Bringing world leaders to the table paid off." However, he tempered his praise for the participating delegations by noting that the outcome "may not be everything that everyone hoped for."

In fact, the outcome fell far short of what Ban had been calling for over the last year. He had originally hoped the meeting would produce a legally binding agreement with ambitious targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and funding to help developing nations cope with global warming. Instead it "noted" an accord struck by the United States, China and other emerging powers that was widely criticized as unambitious and unspecific.

What about China?

(Updates with comments from Raymond Pierrehumbert, Knut Alfsen and Kim Carstensen)

HONGKONG-POLLUTION/

The world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases by geographical boundaries is China. A close second is the United States. Between the two great powers, they account for 40 percent of all carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Heading into the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the pressure was on for China to come up with a real plan for how it would scale back its record emissions.

Is China getting serious about tracking emissions?

beijingAt a major global climate summit in Copenhagen this week, China slammed rich nations for having weak and unambitious goals to cut carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, back at home, China’s main government group charged with monitoring greenhouse gases struck a new contract with Picarro, a California-based company that makes gas analyzers. The deal will double the number of Picarro analyzers that the Chinese Meteorological Administration uses.

We wanted to know if readers think this is a sign that China —- the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States — is getting serious about tracking its carbon emissions.

from Global News Journal:

What to do while the world burns

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A firefighter puts out a fire at a village near Bangkok March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

This opinion piece by Mort Rosenblum originally appeared in GlobalPost. The views expressed are his own. For the full article, click here.


PARIS, France — Back when primal-scream therapy was the rage in California, a friend fell asleep in a tangle of limbs by a blazing hearth. At dawn, sparks ignited the shag rug.

Gaze into clean technology’s crystal ball for 2010

Clean technology investors who have suffered through 2009 can find cheer in a new report by the Cleantech Group that gives its top ten predictions for 2010.

The number one prediction: Private capital growth will recover, the research group said.

The group believes that the amount of money from global venture capital and private equity in clean technology in 2010 will surpass that in 2009 “by a healthy margin” and could be a record year. The group also is watching for major investments like Khosla Ventures’ raising $1 billion for renewable energy and clean technology funds, more capital in Asia and innovative fund strategies.

What solar shakeout? U.S. and China firms say there’s room for all

When California’s SunPower and China’s Suntech strode onstage at an industry conference last week, onlookers braced themselves for a bit of sabre-rattling, or at least an animated debate about two global superpowers’ role in solar energy.

Some bet on an entertaining battle of words just a day after Robert F. Kennedy, Jr took to the stage at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, California and said that the United States was in an “arms race” with the Chinese to make solar panels.

Instead, Tom Werner with California-based SunPower and Zhengrong Shi at Chinese panel maker Suntech were all smiles and even bordeline chummy — on the surface at least — preaching cooperation rather than competition.

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