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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.

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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.