Pollution War Briefing
by China Water Risk 18 June, 2019
It’s been five years since China declared war on pollution. But is it winning? This month, we review China’s newly released 2018 State of Ecology & Environment Report to see if significant gains were made on the water front in the first year under the new Water Ten Law.
Hear from the horse’s mouth on what China has been doing to help create “eco-preneurs”. The Ministry of Ecology & Environment’s Dr Zhanfeng Dong explains and elaborates on their role as a lynchpin in combatting China’s war on pollution.
Elsewhere in pollution wars, drones are being deployed to rein in shipping emissions. Dr. Zhi Ning from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology gives the lowdown on how sensors mounted on drones can measure CO2, SO2 and other pollutants in real time.
As in the Game of Thrones, the war is also taken “beyond the wall” as corporates in China seek to build resilient watersheds. Although such basin stewardship efforts exceed regulatory requirements, He, Zhang and Xu share why Ecolab and Nestle plus others are not only obtaining the AWS international certification, but looking beyond their own factory walls to proactively work with other stakeholders.
Threats continue to lurk – chemical spills have put drinking water sources and fertile soil at risk. Chemical plant explosions have also dominated headlines. Not surprisingly, the sector has been earmarked as a top polluter – here, we take a closer look at China’s chemical “rectify or shutdown” policies in the Yangtze River Delta… weak spots are revealed.
Speaking of chemicals, they are essential in the processing of rare earth minerals and other critical raw materials (CRM), bringing us to the other battlefront – the trade war.
Military strategist Sun Tzu advises that the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. And once again, we are reminded of China’s global chokehold on these minerals which are essential to our interactive lifestyle, let alone global defence systems.
We said in our report in 2016 that China will no longer stomach pollution from extracting these minerals. Then in 2017, we warned in a report with CLSA that the lethal combination of China reliance and irreplaceability of CRMs can not only help China leapfrog to industry 4.0 but “to steal” both clean and high tech futures. Why would China spend a few hundred billion when you can spend USD1 billion to control global tech? Get the inside track.
Multiple wars on multiple fronts means uncertain times ahead. So what’s in store for the future? In Westeros, “When you play the game of thrones, you play to win, or you die.” But there are no winners in the China-US trade war – China says it doesn’t want to fight but will if it has to, meanwhile US Government Accountability Office warn that a full blown ban on CRMs could set the US back 15 years.
The harsh reality is that there is another more insidious threat raging – one we should all be fighting – climate change. So in times like these, when tensions are high and all sides feel strongly that they are right, it’s worth heeding Jon Snow’s counsel … “there’s only one war that matters”.
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