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China's Next Challenge: The Depletion of Global Natural Resources
- China is cleaning up its act at home, but will leaders be willing to tackle illegal environmental depredations abroad? -
The recent University of Georgia study reporting that China is responsible for as much as 28 percent of plastic waste in ocean waters— making it the largest contributor to the problem worldwide — underscores the broader challenge of the country’s global environmental footprint. Some problems, such as the plastic waste or air pollution from China that travels across the Pacific, directly reflect China’s own environmental problems; as China addresses these problems on the home front, other affected countries will also benefit.
Yet there is another set of global environmental challenges related to the depletion of the world’s natural resources. Tackling these issues will require China’s leaders to adopt policies that won’t necessarily bring an immediate environmental or economic benefit to the country. Instead, they will have to take as their priority the preservation of the global commons and protection of the developing world’s natural resources. While China may pay a financial cost for adopting such a priority, it will put the country on a path toward becoming the responsible global power it aspires to be.
China is a significant contributor to the depletion of a number of the world’s most precious natural resources. It is, for example, an important — indeed perhaps the largest — source of overfishing and illegal fishing globally ...
China’s role in illegal logging is also a long-standing concern. Over the past decade and a half, as China has sought to protect its own forests, it has become both the largest importer of timber and the largest importer of stolen wood ... In addition, the illegal trade in endangered species and products is driven in large part by Chinese demand. Demand for ivory from China, for example, is a major contributor to the devastating poaching of elephants in Africa ...
So what could or should Beijing do? Even without acknowledging culpability, Beijing could do much to ensure that its businesses, whether private or state-owned, become responsible global actors. For example, Beijing could follow the lead of the European Union, Australia, and the United States to pass legislation that bans the import and trade of illegally sourced timber; it could ensure that Chinese fishermen report their catch accurately; and it could ratchet up the strength of its customs inspections at ports and other well known border transport points for endangered species and illegally-logged timber. Such actions, in fact, should be a natural extension of China’s own domestic efforts to enhance transparency and the rule of law.
Read the full article in The Diplomat at thediplomat.com/2015/02/chinas-next-challenge-the-depletion-of-global-natural-resources/
#China #fishing #ivory #forests
Image: Logs smuggled across the land border from Myanmar into Yunnan province, China, April 2012 (c) EIA ... See MoreSee Less
2 hours ago ·
Mexico moves to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican Government is making a final effort to save the vaquita, a tiny porpoise that has been driven to the edge of extinction as a result of illegal fishing for another endangered species that is served as a delicacy in China.
Scientists say that fewer than 100 of the vaquita, a marine mammal, remain in its habitat, the northern Gulf of California. Several thousand fishermen working there depend on the yearly shrimp catch for a modest living.
The fishermen’s gillnets, stretching for miles across the sea, have long been a lethal threat to the vaquita, which become entangled in them and die. But over the past few years a new threat has emerged: illegal fishing for a large fish called the totoaba whose swim bladder is dried and cooked in soup in China, where some consumers believe it has medicinal properties. The vaquitas are also caught and killed in the nets set for totoaba.
* Read more background on this issue at eia-international.org/conservationists-call-on-mexico-to-save-the-vaquita
The government’s new policy, which Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, an under secretary in the Environment Ministry, announced on Friday, will ban gillnets for two years across 5,000 square miles of the upper gulf and compensate the fishermen for their lost catch.
The ban will take effect later in March, and the government will begin paying the first installments of $72 million in subsidies to fishermen and others who make their living from the shrimp catch. The payments will be spread over two years.
Full story at www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/world/americas/mexico-moves-to-save-endangered-porpoise.html
#Mexico #China #vaquita #totoaba #porpoise
Image: Vaquitas, by Paula Olson/NOAA ... See MoreSee Less
2 hours ago ·