September 27 News: China’s Biggest City Goes Green; More than 100 Arrested in Ottawa Tar Sands Protest

A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post additional stories below.

Built in a Dirty Boom, China’s Biggest City Tries to Go Green

Wandering around in downtown Chongqing, it is hard to imagine that this is a city that is going green.

Vehicles clog roads in every direction. Construction cranes stretch to the horizon. And huge posters displaying locally produced industrial goods show where the city’s exploding economic growth is coming from.

But Chongqing (population 28,846,200) is more than meets the eye. After living with acid rain and toxic smog for decades, the city has been scrambling for ways to clean up the air. It is also overhauling its power-hungry economy and rebuilding it on a base of industries that use less energy.

Chongqing isn’t alone on such a transformation path. It is one of several pilot provinces and cities that Chinese leaders picked last year in an attempt to find a low-carbon growth model that can be spread to the rest of the nation.

More than 100 arrested in Canada pipeline protest

More than 100 demonstrators were arrested Monday for storming the Canadian parliament to protest Ottawa’s support for a proposed pipeline to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to the US Gulf Coast.

Waves of environmentalists and aboriginals breached a police barricade around the neo-Gothic building to try to hold a sit-in inside as a crowd of 400 chanted “Let them pass!”

But they were quickly handcuffed and whisked away to a waiting police bus, and charged with trespassing before being released, Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Sergeant Marc Menard told AFP.

The indictment carries a fine of $65 “and the demonstrators agreed to stay away from the parliament building for one year,” he said. The first 17 to be arrested faced obstruction charges, which carries a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison, but the citations were later downgraded.

“The tar sands represent a path of broken treaties, eroded human rights, catastrophic climate change, poisoned air and water and the complete stripping of Canada’s morality in the international community,” said protestor Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

“Our communities should not be sacrificed on the altar of the US’s addiction to dirty fossil fuel.”

Rich nations must help poor states cut emissions: minister

South Africa’s environment minister on Monday called on rich nations to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of UN climate talks in Durban in November.

“This call is for the developed countries to increase their commitments toward carbon emission reductions,” Edna Molewa said during a national climate change meeting.

South Africa is preparing to host the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from November 28 to December 9, a meeting known as COP 17.

That meeting will focus on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only treaty that mandates emission cuts. Kyoto’s obligations expire at the end of 2012, and the Durban meeting is seen as the last chance to make new commitments before then.

“We want to come out of the COP 17 saying that we have demonstrated our commitment, the will and capacity of our country and our people, as well as corporates, to lead a change revolution against climate change,” Molewa said, according to Sapa news agency.

“If we do not act against climate change, and also ensure that the parties reach agreements that will take us a step forward in the reduction of global carbon emissions, our development is at stake.”

Canada’s Far North divided over Arctic offshore drilling

Some talk of an economic boom, while others talk of a potential oil spill. Northerners in Canada are divided on the issue of offshore drilling.

Inuvialuit leader Nellie Cournoyea, CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation with headquarters in Inuvik in Canada’s Northwest Territories, says it’s a difficult balance.

“People are very strong in their belief and their will to protect the environment and the wildlife. At the same time, economic opportunities are also important for people in this region.”

The National Energy Board’s review — called a round table — was held in Inuvik September 12 to 16.

More than 200 representatives of aboriginal, territorial and federal government gathered from across Canada as well as members of the public who were also encouraged to speak during the five day event.

The statements were recorded by Canada’s National Energy Board, an arms’ length Federal body which must assess if energy projects are in the public interest.

Deal to avert shutdown spares DOE cuts

On Monday night, congressional leaders resolved – at least for now – a dispute over offsetting the cost of emergency disaster aid that threatened to partially shut down the government and cut funding for two Energy Department programs.

Republicans had insisted that a spending bill that included an increase in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency be offset with cuts to DOE programs.

House Republicans proposed cutting $1.5 billion from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Management (ATVM) loan program, which provides funding for manufacturers of efficient vehicle components. The measure also cut $100 million from the Energy Department program that greenlighted a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009 to Solyndra, a now-bankrupt solar firm.

Democrats blasted the offsets, leaving lawmakers at an impasse.

Editorial: Instead of fixing air issues, Texas sues EPA – again

Last week, Texas sued the Environmental Protection Agency, yet again, for having the temerity to ask it, yet again, to stop poisoning our air. So, yet again, we ask the state to stop stonewalling and clean up its act – and our air.

As reported by the Chronicle, the new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule requires Texas and 26 other states to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions by installing modern pollution controls in their aging power plants. So Texas, home to 19 coal-fired power plants, the most in the nation, filed another lawsuit.

Originally, Texas was required only to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, but the final ruling, in July, required it also to cut sulfur dioxide. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott‘s office protested that the state did not have time to comply with the ruling, due to take effect Jan. 1, and that it would result in loss of jobs and service interruptions.

19 Responses to September 27 News: China’s Biggest City Goes Green; More than 100 Arrested in Ottawa Tar Sands Protest

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Story About A Story Missed?

    Please correct me, I hope. Did I miss something? I don’t buy The New York Times anymore, but I peek at their online stuff and also run searches when I’m looking for something. So far, I haven’t seen anything at all (on The New York Times) on Moving Planet.

    If you go to the Times online, and put “Moving Planet” into their search bar, no articles appear that have anything to do with the Moving Planet events on Saturday.

    Did The Times miss Moving Planet entirely? Was there no coverage? If not, what’s up with them?

    It was also interesting to me that in Bill Keller’s luke-warm salute to, and somewhat lame defense of, President Obama a couple weeks back, there was no mention (as far as I can remember) of the issue of climate change. In what seemed to be — or try to be — a survey of the major issues facing us and of President Obama’s performance with respect to those issues, it seems that the issue of climate change was essentially forgotten or overlooked by Mr. Bill K. Or has climate changed been solved, while I was sleeping?

    If these were misses on the part of The New York Times, it’s hard to conclude that they were the results of accident or incompetence. How many accidents, and how much incompetence, can continue to reappear at the so-called paper of record? There must be something “systemic” about it, of course.

    So what to do?

    Be Well,


  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The Chinese experiment should prove to be very interesting. It’s only a pilot but hey, it’s more than the US is doing. Our own local green projects have no support from the federal government, and must continue to compete against cheap and subsidized fossil fuels.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    As for the Canadian tar sands protest, Americans don’t realize how determined and courageous Canadian activists can be.

    Around 10 years ago, dozens were beaten and thrown in jail for long prison sentences while protesting clearcutting in British Columbia. There was a news blackout in the US- few Americans have any idea how strong the opposition to deforestation is up there. They are in the minority, but at least they fight.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    Interesting article (sad commentary on where the Republican party has shifted over the last decade):

    Lamar Alexander (who drives a plug-in) basically having to step down from a leadership position in the Senate because the party has moved to much more radical positions (plug-in vehicles to get us off oil, in particular). Although this isn’t a surprise, its a bit of a sad commentary nonetheless.

  5. Hot Rod says:

    Mike, did you read the China article? It’s entirely a local smog/pollution issue from my reading. ‘You dont have to wash your umbrella’ stuff, same as London until the Clean Air Act of 1956.

  6. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Nothing on Moving Planet in UK media either – but then the action appeared to have no interest in generating media attention.

    Which begs the question, what did it aim to achieve ?

    At what point does the fluffy approach to public protest actually discourage belief in the effectiveness of protest ?

    And where is the boundary of minimal political pressure at which politicians can view such protests as evidence that the issue can be safely ignored as irrelevant to national voting intentions ?

    To get serious effective numbers of young people onto the street surely we need to get a lot angrier and a lot more newsworthy than has thus far encouraged ?



  7. actually, for a while movingplanet day was the lead story on google news meaning that more newspapers and tv stations were linking to it than any other. you may not have seen them because many were overseas–just as an example, it was the lead story, at five mintues long, on vietnamese tv. and this kind of thing is very important, because those are impt. parts of the world for climate.

  8. Joan Savage says:

    “Our own local green projects have no support from the federal government”
    Sorry to read that.

    In central NY the city and county government and local non-profits are fairly proficient in grant writing for federal funds, and we have some cool stuff like low energy stop lights and green roof initiatives to show for it.

  9. _Flin_ says:

    EU climate chief Connie Hedegard is “shocked that the debate in the US is so far away from scientific facts.”

    Enough of the sweet talk.

  10. _Flin_ says:

    EU raids european gas companies suspected of violating anti-trust regulations.

    Fossil fuel companies…

  11. Jeff Huggins says:

    Hi Bill,

    I enjoyed meeting you in San Francisco — thanks for the autograph! — and I do applaud the event and your great efforts. I was deeply moved by the people who showed up, by their heart and humanness.

    That said, aside from the coverage that appeared elsewhere, am I correct in my observation that The New York Times didn’t (or hasn’t) cover(ed) Saturday? I ask this not as a critique of the event, but instead as part of my effort to understand the media, critique it fairly, and hopefully (somehow) prompt some change. I’d also be most interested in your thoughts on the question, “What’s wrong with the New York Times?”, if indeed they didn’t cover Moving Planet.

    Cheers, Be Well, and thanks for all your efforts!


  12. Colorado Bob says:

    It’s only September, but humans have used up the Earth’s natural resources for the year, according to a sustainability nonprofit group.

    The Global Footprint Network (GFN) has declared today (Sept. 27) “Earth Overshoot Day.” That’s the day when humankind’s demand on nature exceeds the planet’s ability to regenerate resources and absorb the waste.

    “Our research shows that in approximately nine months, we have demanded a level of services from nature equivalent to what the planet can provide for all of 2012,” according to a GFN statement. “We maintain this deficit by depleting stocks of things like fish and trees, and by accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the ocean.”

  13. Eileen says:

    There was no ‘storming’ involved in the protest on Parliament Hill.

    In fact, the RCMP provided a stepping stool to make it easier for seniors to manouever over the metal barricade.

    ‘waves’ of 3-6 people holding hands walked up to the barricade, spoke briefly with the RCMP , then climbed over it.

    A large portion of those who did so were not even ticketted. At 4:00 pm, they were simply released so the RCMP could take down the barricades and go home.

    There were some very inspirational speeches from various groups (many First Nations) before the civil disobedience action began.

  14. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Bill –

    thanks for your response.

    It is good to hear that google news took that many hits, but notable how few of the press or TV gave the event coverage. Here in the UK there was nothing on any national media, not even the Guardian that has to be among the best of any paper on the planet.

    Getting 5 minutes on Vietnam’s TV is certainly an achievement, but that country’s importance is in being particularly vulnerable to extreme rainfall, as opposed to being particularly potent and obstructive of the international climate negotiations.

    – I guess we’d agree that it is particularly the latter countries where we need to help generate sufficient media coverage to cause the review of official policy towards negotiating the climate treaty, without which the fossil fuel lobby remains unconstrained.

    To this end my comment is intended, with a lot of respect, as the most constructive critique I can offer, for it seems very clear both that the issue is one of great urgency, and that protest strategies to date have not increased or even maintained political attention to the issue in the west.



  15. Bob Geiger says:

    Is this really China’s biggest city? I think this may have been an error by a headline writer at the NYT. It doesn’t seem supported by the story or any other reference source.

  16. Malcolm Griffin says:

    The Ottawa arrests:
    Close to 200 climbed over the barrier. They sat for most of the afternoon in orderly fashion waiting to be arrested and processed. The police tried to persuade each protester to climb back over the fence before ticketing them, none did. The last 50 or so were left un-ticketed perhaps an abandoning of cooperation by the police since all of them would have been handcuffed and marched off rather than willingly climb back over the fence.
    The protest had very little impact on the Canadian press.

  17. David B. Benson says:

    TNYT today has a biz pages article on cellulosic fuels. The technique uses just spueercritical water, so inexpensive. The next stage is the attempt to scale up to a pilot plant.

  18. Mike Roddy says:

    I stand corrected, Joan. There are programs for energy efficiency, but we need something much bigger.

  19. Roger Shamel says:

    Your comment is very astute. I fully agree.

    Global warming is the mother of all issues. We need fast progress for man to survive.

    It’s time for an Obama speech to clear the air, per

    Concerned citizens could go the limit to support this per

    Kudos re Bill’s Nov 6 White House action!
    Warm regards,