Friday round-up highlighting the news and commentary of the week


China releases antibiotics water pollution map (South China Morning Post) 

Earlier this month, the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry revealed that China not only consumes close to half the world’s antibiotics, but its rivers are also suffering from high levels of antibiotic pollution as a result. Now, hot on the heels of those revelations, they’ve released a map showing areas of concentrated antibiotic pollution. The Haihe River and Pearl River were found to have the most severe antibiotic pollution, although the pollution has hit worrying levels across China’s 58 river basins.

Even the Pope is concerned about climate change…(thepaper)

The gaze of the entire world was focused on the Vatican this week, as Pope Francis unleashed his encyclical calling on the entire world to join together to fight climate change, coupled with scorching criticism of big businesses and income inequality. Chinese reports were of course quick to join in the circus, with one newspaper calling it ‘the most significant step of his tenure’. 

 China ‘reversing’  the effects of desertification (CCTV)

Wednesday was the UN’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought and China chose to highlight its efforts to combat the problem over the past ten years, by planting trees to create a 'green barrier.' According to an official from the State Forestry Administration, "China is seeing an annual reduction of 1,700 square kilometers of desert land”. 

India, China need cleaner air just to keep death rate steady (The Economic Times)

China and India may soon start to see the effects of air pollution on mortality rates, says new study. If China does not radically address its airborne PM2.5 levels, it will see a rise in mortality rate of up to 23%. India would see a similar rise of 21%. In order to keep mortality rates stable over the next few decades, China and India would both have to reduce their PM2.5 levels by around 68% on 2010 levels, the report claims. The World Health Organisation claims that at present if air pollution levels around the world were brought in line with its recommended levels, 2.1million premature deaths could be prevented every year.

China trials environmental audits to hold officials to account (China Dialogue) 

The Chinese government plans to hold provincial officials and civil servants accountable for the environmental consequences of their policy decisions, even long after they have retired from office. The move comes as the central government is strengthening both its environmental protection laws and its powers of oversight and auditing of local officials. However, experts have already noted that it will be extremely difficult to objectively assess local government officials’ environmental impact. The provinces of Shandong in the north and Guizhou in the south are implementing pilot schemes, which may work to set up benchmarks by which to assess officials elsewhere.