Friday roundup highlighting the environmental news and commentary of the week  

Giant pandas rebound off endangered list  [BBC]

Wonderful news for China’s most iconic animal this week, as Giant Pandas’ status was downgraded from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ by the International for Union of Conversation. This is encouraging news, but Pandas are by no means 100% safe and will still require herculean effort to sustain their population growth. Many Chinese conservationists aren’t pleased about the announcement and have spoken out against the ruling amid fears that the new status will lead to a cooling off of conservation efforts. Pandas are still under threat from illegal logging and poaching, while the report also revealed that climate change could potentially destroy 35% of the Giant Panda’s native habitat, the bamboo forest. Nonetheless, it’s a big achievement: perhaps now the limelight can shift to some of China’s less iconic but equally beautiful- and equally vulnerable- wildlife.

Climate change will bring stronger storms to China, Southeast Asia [Science World Report]

Following a summer of deadly floods, China is expected to experience even more extreme weather and typhoons will intensify as ocean temperatures in Southeast Asia rise. This summer’s flooding caused billions of RMB in damages and sparked protests and complaints after the local government’s response was deemed inadequate.

China's top steel city cuts industrial production to clear air [Reuters]

Tangshan, China’s steel city, has been ordered to shut down all production in a bid to tackle the region’s air pollution and overcapacity problems. This is the third time the city has been ordered to shut down in just a couple of months.

Here’s What China and the U.S. Just Committed to on Climate [Scientific American]

Last week, China and the US made waves by jointly ratifying the Paris Agreement ahead of G20, but what does that mean? This article from Scientific American breaks down what that commitment means and what we can expect from world leaders as they work to transition the Paris Agreement into climate action.

China’s reforestation actually causing more harm [Science Blog]

China’s forest restoration project has successfully converted an area the size of New York and Pennsylvania combined back to forest, but new research led by Princeton University suggests that this might be doing more harm than good. The forests being planted are overwhelmingly monoculture and fail to protect biodiversity.

It would seem the best method of forest conservation is still not to cut them down in the first place.

...and…

All China’s new power demand met by wind and solar last year [Energydesk]

Although energy demand rose 0.5% in 2015, China’s renewables capacity in 2015 was enough meet ALL of China’s new power demand. Both wind and solar capacity increased, by 21% and 64% respectively. To put into context, this increase in power generation from wind and solar in 2015 (48 TWh) alone was twice Ireland’s entire electricity demand the previous year.