Micro-algae Bred to Absorb C02 Emissions

ENN, a Chinese firm, is developing a greenhouse that functions like a bioreactor. The bioreactor breeds micro-algae using carbon captured from gasified coal. Various strains of micro-algae are among the fastest growing species on earth.

According to the Guardian (UK), China is one of the world’s largest emitters of C02, largely because of its reliance on coal-generated power. Almost none of the C02 emitted by coal plants is captured because, to date, there has been no profitable way to use the CO2. Algae may provide a solution — “The organism can absorb carbon far more quickly than trees, a quality that has long attracted international scientists seeking a natural method of capturing the most abundant greenhouse gas.” 

In ENN’s process, coal is first gasified in a simulated underground environment. C02 resulting from the extraction process is then ‘fed’ to algae, which can then be used to make biofuel, fertilizer, or animal feed.  (To further cut down emissions, the C02 can be extracted from coal using wind or solar power). According to the Guardian, Deborah Seligsohn, China Director for the World Resources Institute, was positive on the technology: “Algae biofuels and sequestration are being tried in a bunch of places, but never with such an innovative energy mix. It is really interesting and ambitious.”

Researchers working on the algae greenhouse plan at ENN seek to scale up the trial to a 100 hectare (247 acre) site. “If it proves commercially feasible, coal plants around the world could one day be flanked by carbon-cleaning algae greenhouses or ponds.” Zhu Zhenqi, an advisor to the project, said to the Guardian: “Algae’s promise is that its population can double every few hours. It makes far more efficient use of sunlight than plants. The biology has been proven in the lab. The challenge now is an engineering one: We need to increase production and reduce cost. If we can solve this challenge, we can deal with carbon.”

However, there are a few potential pitfalls. Algae must be harvested daily. Additionally, extracting the oily components (which can be used in biofuels) is still an expensive process. Some researchers are exploring spraying or bubbling CO2 into algae ponds. Others, like ENN, are controlling the process in greenhouses, creating a reactor. In either case, land and water is needed, and algae facilities or ponds would need to be located near enough to coal power plants to be economically feasible.

Read the article

Also, the New York Times recently wrote about a new demonstration project led by Dow Chemicals and Algenol Biofuels, which would feed CO2 to algae to produce biofuels. In this process: “algenol grows algae in “bioreactors,” troughs covered with flexible plastic and filled with saltwater. The water is saturated with carbon dioxide, to encourage growth of the algae. ‘It looks like a long hot dog balloon,’ Mr. Woods said. Dow, a maker of specialty plastics, will provide the ‘balloon’ material. The algae, through photosynthesis, convert the carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, which is a hydrocarbon, oxygen and fresh water.” Algenol is planning a demonstration project that could produce 100,000 gallons of algae-generated ethanol per year. Read the article

Image credit: Jonathan Watts / Guardian

Los Angeles Offers Rebate for Ripping Out Lawns

The L.A. Times
reports that the L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP) is offering single-family homes up to USD 2,000 to get rid of their lawns in favor of native, low-water-usage plants. If a homeowner rips out lawn, turns off their sprinklers, and replaces the lawn with more sustainable options, they will receive a rebate from the city. According to the L.A. Times, “the rebate program requires that you have a plan for the successor landscape. Acceptable turf substitutes include drought-tolerant plants, mulch and permeable ground cover.” (see earlier post on sustainable landscape architecture).

The goal of the program is to elimate the use of any municipal water for lawns. Drought-tolerant substitutes are estimated to require just 15 inches of water per year, which is the same amount as L.A.’s average annual rainfall. (In comparison, grassy lawns can require 50-90 inches per year, creating enormous water needs).

L.A.’s DWP says it “won’t buy dead lawn.” “But if you have 200 to 2,000 square feet of lawn that is doing little more than consuming water, then the DWP is willing to pay you to get rid of it. That includes the forlorn strip of lawn between the sidewalk and curb known as the ‘parkway.'” DWP is taking aim at those strips of parkways because they contribute to sprinkler systems’ runoff. The L.A. Times writes: “opening the DWP program to parkways makes good sense because watering with sprinklers is next to impossible there without creating runoff. Under the new drought ordinances, creating runoff is now illegal.”

The L.A. Times says the idea is a good one, but L.A. still needs to catch up with other cities like Las Vegas, which offer up to 50 percent more money to do the same. Las Vegas is far ahead of L.A. in removing water-consuming lawns. “Las Vegas has removed more than 125 million square feet of grass, saving 7 billion gallons of water a year. That’s almost one-tenth of Southern Nevada’s annual water supply.”

TreeHugger notes San Diego is also encouraging homeowners to let their lawns go.

Read the article and check out xeriscaping resources. Also, read a post by Climate Progress on smart gardening.

Image credit: L.A. Times

New U.S. Government Partnership for Sustainable Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an inter-agency partnership on sustainable communities, which will be driven by a set of “livability principles,” and coordinate policy across government departments. According to an EPA press release, “the partnership will help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs, while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.” EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson said: “This partnership provides a framework to guide decisions that affect all communities. This way, investments of financial and human resources by any one of our agencies will meet shared goals and confront significant challenges we face together.” 

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities established six livability principles that will act as a foundation for inter-agency coordination:  

  • Provide more transportation choices
    Develop safe, reliable and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public health.
  • Promote equitable, affordable housing
    Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
  • Enhance economic competitiveness
    Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers as well as expanded business access to markets.
  • Support existing communities
    Target federal funding toward existing communities – through such strategies as transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling – to increase community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works investments, and safeguard rural landscapes.
  • Coordinate policies and leverage investment
    Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
  • Value communities and neighborhoods
    Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods – rural, urban or suburban.

Read the partnership agreement and six key livability principles. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s blog, The Fastlane

Ocean-based Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

MIT Technology Review
 wrote about a new power plant in Linden, New Jersey, which plans to test an ocean carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the Atlantic Ocean. If permits are provided, the plant, owned by SCS Energy, will pump C02 pollution into sandstone located two miles beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor. According to MIT Technology Review, a handful of power plants are already capturing CO2 created during the energy-production process, liquefying the gas, and pumping it into deep underground storage facilities. However, this project would be one of the first tests of ocean-based CCS. 

Critics of carbon capture and storage argue that capturing carbon is expensive, and impractical. There are also fears that C02 could escape from underground storage areas, even under the ocean. MIT Technology Review writes: “Previous storage efforts have focused on filling underground structures such as depleted oil reservoirs, but these structures don’t contain enough volume to accommodate the vast amounts of CO2 produced. On the other hand, undersea storage has raised concern that carbon dioxide could slowly leak into ocean water.”

Daniel Schrag, a Harvard University Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who is a consultant to this ocean CCS project, suggested in a 2006 research study that storing C02 in porous sediment hundreds of meters below the sea floor in deep parts of the ocean would be feasible. “Stored at this depth, under higher pressure and temperatures, the carbon dioxide should be less buoyant and remain trapped indefinitely.” MIT Technology Review says two injection sites under 100 meters of water, and down under 2,500-3,000 meters of rock are being tested. However, Dave Goldberg, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who also largely sees carbon capture and storage as a viable option, argues that any pilot project must be carefully monitored to ensure there is no harm to the ocean ecosystem. Captured C02 could affect the sea floor levels, bacterial ecology, and ocean wildlife. Read the article

According to TreeHugger, another ocean-based carbon and capture storage project is underway. TreeHugger writes that Tokyo will begin pumping C02 under the seabed at a rate of 100,000 tons per year, beginning in 2010. A Japanese global warming research organization, the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, is cited as estimating 150 billion tons of CO2 could be stored in Japan underground and surrounding coastal underseas areas.

Debate continues among energy and environmental policy makers around the value of prototyping expensive carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems for coal-powered power plants, part of a major effort to make coal “clean.”

In a separate article, TreeHugger asks: Is wetland restoration the best alternative to CCS? “Scientists are discovering that the restoration of these vulnerable ecosystems could provide a valuable bulwark to climate change by creating a worldwide network of potent carbon sinks. A $12.3 million research project to capture and store carbon by growing tules and cattails in wetlands launched by the U.S. Geological Survey this summer has already shown some promising results, according to Environmental Science & Technology’s Janet Pelley: The USGS project has captured eye-popping amounts of carbon—an average of 3000 grams of carbon per square meter per year (g-C/m2/yr) over the past 5 years. For comparison, reforested agricultural land, eligible for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, socks away carbon at a rate much less than 100 g-C/m2/yr, says Gail Chmura, a biogeochemist at McGill University (Canada).”

Learn more about CCS at the World Resources Institute, and wetland restoration (Can Wetlands Cool the Planet?) from Environmental Science & Technology.

Image credit: TreeHugger / RITE

Queens Plaza Bicycle and Pedestrian Landscape Improvement Project

Urban Omnibus, a project of the Architectural League of New York, interviewed the landscape architects, architects and urban planners behind the NYC Department of City Planning and Economic Development Corporation-funded Queens Plaza Bicycle and Pedestrian Landscape Improvement Project. The Improvement Project aims to “transform the tangle of urban infrastructure cutting through Long Island City from a harsh, disorienting industrial maze into a lush, navigable landscape, a gateway to Long Island City that organizes various flows and scales while providing a refuge for residents, workers and the road-weary.” Urban Omnibus says the new urban and landscape design “unites the surrounding neighborhoods and restores the connection between the city and the river.”  The project covers 1.3 miles, “revitalizes JFK Park,” and connects it to the “dramatic water’s edge below the Queensboro Bridge.”

The Improvement Project design team included landscape architect Margie Ruddick, ASLA, WRT DesignMarpillero Pollak Architects, an architecture and urban designer firm, and the artist Michael Singer. The project follows New York City’s High-Performance Infrastructure Guidelines.

From the Urban Omnibus interview:

Urban Omnibus: What are some of the ways in which you thought about sustainability when approaching this project?

Margie Ruddick: The idea that something hard, urban and harsh can operate ecologically – that’s something that isn’t yet in the everyday language of landscape architecture. This kind of approach to landscape is slowly but surely becoming much more prevalent. Particularly in Oregon and Washington State, where the flow of water is much more visible: you can really see how the plants are thriving due to sub-surface drainage and downspouts being let out into park spaces. The whole cycle of water is much more visible.”

Urban Omnibus: It changes our perception of what an urban park can be? How so?

Margie Ruddick: In formal terms, rather than using a harsh, urban language, we tried to find a language through which lushness and beauty could coexist with the hard edge of infrastructure. The linear landscape of medians and streetscape meet in JFK Park, and this convergence, for me, challenges the notion of an urban park because its surroundings are so inhospitable. This juxtaposition would have seemed inappropriate several years ago. But these days it’s becoming more prevalent.

We tried to find a language through which lushness and beauty could coexist with the hard edge of infrastructure. Five or seven years ago, architects and everybody who saw our plans for Queens Plaza thought it was incongruous to have such a lush landscape on that kind of site. But now images from Queens Plaza are being used as a powerful precedent for an expressive language in a complex infrastructural context.

And beyond the material dimension, it alters our common perception of an urban park because it is not bounded; rather, it takes place in these skinny slivers. Even something like the High Line is bounded – even though it’s linear, it has a boundary. The Queens Plaza project is part of a street network but will operate as a park.

Another aspect of the design that really distinguishes this park is the ways we deal with stormwater. All site stormwater is filtered through subsurface wetlands and median plantings. The artist Michael Singer worked with Linda, Sandro and ourselves to create a system of interlocking, permeable pavers that can manage and filter stormwater through various kinds of plantings, or serve as hard walking surfaces.

Michael also designed these beautiful edge pavers with a little curve on the side. When you put two of them together there’s a little peephole where the water flows from the paver down into the planting. It’s a really beautiful detail, just a little notch that allows the water to flow down.”

Read the full interview 

Also, check out NYC Department of Transportation’s free cycling maps 

Image credit: Queens Plaza North. Urban Omnibus /Image courtesy of Margie Ruddick Landscape and Marpillero Pollak Architects

LEED-Neighborhood Development (ND) Rating System Gears Up for Launch


The National Building Museum held a session on Sustainable Communities, which highlighted the latest changes to the LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) rating system, and featured one pilot project developed using LEED-ND in the Washington, D.C. area. LEED-ND will be fully launched as a rating system in late summer /early fall 2009. LEED-ND credit categories include: smart location and linkage; neighborhood pattern and design; and green infrastructure and buildings. LEED-ND can cover urban, rural, suburban, commercial, residential and mixed-use developments. Most of the 29 certified LEED-ND projects are urban, transit-oriented, and involve walking and biking. LEED-ND was developed through a partnership among U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Congress for New Urbanism (CNE), and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC).

USGBC hopes LEED-ND will be the “national standard for green neighborhood development,” and become a powerful tool for combating surburban sprawl. USGBC sees auto-dependent surburban neighborhoods as a major source of unnecessary C02 emissions. Suburban houses are often hidden in cul-de-sacs, and stores, work places, and residences are often far apart from each other, leading to longer driving times (and increased emissions). 

The LEED-ND team recently completed a review process based on results from 200 plus pilot projects, and updated the rating system. USGBC mentioned that the first round of comments yielded 5,200 comments, and this most recent round an additional 1,400. The rating system now includes credits outlined by the Sustainable Sites Initiative for wetlands, and requires new development LEED-ND master plans to include at least one LEED green building. In any green neighborhood, new buildings constructed must aim for improved water and energy efficiency. USGBC doesn’t want cities or communities to adopt LEED-ND as code, but hopes communities will incentivize LEED-ND-style developments, provide expedited review processes, and evaluate existing zoning codes / regulations against LEED-ND and remove barriers to sustainable communities.

JBG Partners, a “sustainable community developer,” and developer of a LEED-ND pilot project in Maryland, argues that there must be a business case for sustainability. In developing a new transit-oriented development near Twinbrook Station just over the border with D.C., JBG Partners aimed at 26 acres of existing parking lots, replacing them with 1,595 multifamily residential units, 220,000 square feet of street front retail space, and acres of public open space with multiple parks and courtyards (read NRDC post on this).

JBG Partners explained that the LEED-ND certification process took seven months. Total fees included USD 14,000 for USGBC, and USD 45,000 for documentation. Some 200-250 hours were spent by the development team on LEED-ND certification. JBG said the project was in the middle of the LEED Gold standard. “There are always trade-offs with sustainable design.” For example, JBG said they received points for public participation, but those public comments yielded changes that deducted points. The community requested a park, but the new park’s lawn raised water usage, which led to the deductions.

JBG said there are new innovative financing schemes to package the high upfront costs associated with energy-efficient systems, which can yield major energy-use, water-use, and maintenance savings over time that can be passed onto tenants. An attendee also mentioned Fannie Mae’s transportation-efficient mortgages, which allow housing owners to take on larger mortgages if they live in transit-oriented developments that enable owners to cut transportation costs.

Image credit: NRDC Switchboard

21st Century Parks

The Globe and Mail (UK) did a series on 21st century parks, including the High Line Park in NYC (see earlier post), Canada’s new “high-design” parks, and the Promenade Plantee in Paris. According to the Globe and Mail, “contemporary urban park design has […] transformed some of the worst areas of our cities into arenas of pleasure for everyone. Landscape architects have pioneered the rescue of severely polluted industrial land, and in Europe that transition has been especially dramatic.” 

HtO Urban Beach, Toronto: The Globe and Mail writes: “the lakeside park includes mounds of green surrounded by circular paths, and an umbrella-dotted ‘beach’ stretching along the waterfront.” Claude Cormier, a Montreal landscape architect who worked on the project with Janet Rosenberg, said to the Globe and Mail: “Recreation, comfort, shade – you just sit there and watch the world go by.” Ht0 won a ASLA 2009 Professional Award

WaveDeck, Toronto: “What’s a beach without a boardwalk? A complementary project to HtO Urban Beach is WaveDeck, a series of undulating wooden boardwalks that open up the Lake Ontario shoreline to the city.” West 8, a Dutch landscape architecture firm, worked with a Toronto-based firm, du Toit Allsopp Hillier (DTAH), to design WaveDeck’s seven boardwalks. WaveDeck helps connect the Ht0 park and Music Garden. WaveDeck also won an ASLA 2009 professional award.

Read the article

Promenade Plantee, Paris: This elevated walkway-park, built on an abandoned railway viaduct, has entrances along its 4.5 kilometer length. The Globe and Mail writes: “though the plants are traditional (lavender, roses and other flora), the concept of keeping the elevated railway, its wonderful arches and glorious brickwork, and turning it into something everyone could use is a very modern idea.” The park was designed by Jacques Vergely, landscape architect, and Phillipe Mathieux, an architect.

A few other key examples mentioned include the Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park, which re-purposed the “belching furnaces in the Ruhr Valley,” and London’s Olympic Park, which “not only fills unused but valuable land, but adds all the elements of sustainable park design: cultivating native plants, attracting wildlife, providing places for people to walk and play.” Read the article

Image credit: Ht0 / Neil Fox

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Global Warming Is the Greatest Challenge Facing Science”

During his keynote address at the Asia Society Washington, D.C. center awards dinner, where he was honored for his efforts on climate change, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said “climate change is the greatest challenge facing science.” Chu added that we must all “understand the challenge of containing climate change.” Introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, California, who mentioned the need for a “three-dimensional (cultural, economic, and political) engagement between the U.S. and Asia,” Chu said that the U.S. “innovation machine” can create the scientific knowledge and tools needed to fight climate change (if the right policies are set). 

However, the difficult part will be spreading that valuable scientific knowledge, as well as those tools, across national boundaries. In the case of energy-efficient buildings, Chu argued local knowledge drives local building development, and needs to be updated to ensure best practices in energy-efficient buildings quickly go global. “Buildings are local. We don’t ship buildings to Denmark.” He described the type of knowledge needed for creating energy-efficient buildings as a sort of “hands-on,” practitioner’s knowledge –“it’s like a gardener’s craft or like those who know how to cook well.” Still, he thinks it is possible to “teach each other how to capture carbon, how to create more energy-efficient buildings.” To those who argue that any intellectual property (IP) transferred overseas should be protected, Chu added “it’s not about intellectual property (IP), it’s about people.” He also argued that the case for energy efficient buildings is economic — highly energy-efficient buildings can reduce current energy consumption by four-to-five times, putting “more money into people’s pockets.”

Climate change is an international problem, and “we need to get to a sustainable energy world.” Chu argued that young people will be key to this effort. He urged young people to tell their parents: “If you care about me, don’t give me a world that will heat up by four-to-five degrees.”

In related news, new research from Nicholas Stern, and other climate scholars, argues that today’s atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are already high enough to cause a global increase in temperature of between 2 and 2.4 degrees celsius. According to Der Spiegel, the research argues that “drastic and immediate” emissions reductions would be “impossible, and “an overshoot of the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations needed to constrain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is thus inevitable.” The paper argues that the world must begin to set adaptation plans for a three-to-five temperature increases, while continuing to mitigate Co2 emissions. Read the article

Re-integrating Wildlife into Urban Areas

Inhabitat wrote about a new design concept for a green roof aviary by Ballistic Architecture Machine (BAM). BAM’s green roof would support a “functioning biotope for migrating birds.” According to Inhabitat, BAM wants to implement their concept aviary along the Atlantic Coast Flyway, which is overlooked by the Goldman Sachs Headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “It is intended to be a rest area for birds and insects traveling along the Atlantic Coast Flyway. The aviary spans 70,000 square feet of roof and vents, into a park that is truly intended for just twelve species of birds.” 

Inhabitat says the design was created with the assistance of ornithologists from Harvard and Cornell Universities. The bird-attracting green roof would be attached to a twelve story building, and filled with soil, water, gravel and other materials designed for birds. Webcams would be placed in the structure to allow researchers to monitor its usage. Read the article and an earlier post on biodiverse buildings.

Separately, in a project that is underway in Berkeley, California, goats have been introduced in the Oakland and Berkeley hills to fight forest fires. According to Tom Klatt, the former manager of the Office of Emergency Preparedness at UC Berkeley, and author of UC Berkeley’s 2007 Fire Mitigation Program Annual Report, “the goat clearance scheme is one of the key reasons the Bay Area hasn’t had a recurrence of a catastrophic fire in decades.”  However, E-magazine notes that goats can also have a negative environmental impact, if left unmanaged. “These agile animals have been known to reduce or eliminate entire populations of native plants and facilitate soil erosion and the establishment of invasive plants. According to Professor Josh Donlan, the director of Advanced Conservation Strategies at Cornell University, ‘Non-native herbivores, like feral goats, are responsible for widespread ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss on islands around the world.'”  Read the article

China’s Pollution Victims

Wang Canfa, a prominent environmental lawyer and activist, spoke at an event at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, D.C. on how the lack of enforcement of environmental law is creating a new class of “pollution victims” across China. As demonstrated in a video presentation, villagers touching highly-polluted river water will often quickly develop blisters on their hands and feet.  Wang also discussed the state of environmental law in China, and obstacles to better enforcement. Wang is head of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, and Professor, China University of Politics and Law.

According to Wang Canfa, 50 percent of China’s waterways aren’t fit for human use in any form. Other key statistics: China produces 25 billion tons of sulfur dioxide (S02) per year, twice the amount stipulated as acceptable by Chinese law; China creates 15.2 billion tons of solid waste per year; 10 million acres of farmland are polluted each year (costing 20 billion RMB in damages); 1.3 million acres of farmland are, in turn, lost to productive uses per year. Also, Wang outlined how “red tides,” rare outbreaks of water pollution, happened about 20 times during the 1990’s, but occured more than 119 times in 2003 alone. China has also experienced huge losses of grassland due to desertification, and increased pollution of groundwater resources. Electronic waste shipped from Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia, often ends up in Southern China, creating fields of electronic waste that leak chemicals, which then filter into groundwater.

Wang said China already has the environmental laws in place — a host of new laws have been enacted, as well as regulations to enforce these laws. The issue is enforcement and local capacity. He outlined a few of the complex, inter-connected institutional, economic, and other barriers, to improving environmental protection enforcement, many of which occur at the local level: 

Institutional barriers: China has a highly centralized form of governance which often creates perverse incentives. For instance, the promotion of lower-level officials is determined by officials in higher levels of government. Central government officials select provincial officials for promotion, and so on, on down. Given communities have little say in evaluating how local officials perform on environmental protection, a disconnect arises between local progress and local officials’ career success.

Wang argued that the promotion criteria needs to be changed for local economic development officials. Positive environmental impact needs to become part of the criteria for success. This will, in turn, let existing instutional mechanisms, such as environmental impact assessments, which under law must be conducted for new developments, begin to guide economic development decisions. Public participation needs to be built into local institutions’ economic and environmental decision-making process more broadly. Furthermore, China’s environmental protection agency (SEPA) needs more local offices, and stronger support from the central government.

Economic barriers: China is still placing a priority on economic growth above all else. As a result, environmental damages haven’t been included in the true cost of economic development. Wang argued that the cost of compliance with environmental regulations is still far more than the fines and fees required for breaking the law.

Wang contends environmental protection regulatory bodies need to be given a greater ability to shape local economic development decisions — local economic growth can’t come first. Also, in terms of the economic cost-benefit analysis of pollution, fees / fines need to dramatically increased for firms to comply with pollution rules. Also, fee / fines collection should be separated from revenue-generating in environmental protection agencies to reduce the incentive to fine, as oppose to simply close polluting firms. To support this, environmental agencies’ budgets need to be guaranteed by the central government.

Wang also outlined legal, judicial, social, and cultural obstacles to better enforcement of environmental rules in China.

Read more about Wang Canfa, a Time magazine “Hero of the Environment”, and his Center for Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims.

Image credit: E-Waste Guide