Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
News Article | April 17, 2017
Hunting is a major threat to wildlife particularly in tropical regions, but a systematic large-scale estimate of hunting-induced declines of animal numbers was lacking so far. A study published in Science on April 14 fills this gap. An international team of ecologists and environmental scientists found that bird and mammal populations were reduced within 7 and 40 km of hunters' access points, such as roads and settlements. Within these impact zones, mammal populations declined on average by 83% and bird populations by 58%. Additionally, the team found that commercial hunting had a higher impact than hunting for family food, and that hunting pressure was higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat could be traded. The impact of hunting was found to be larger than the team expected. 'Thanks to this study, we estimate that only 17 percent of the original mammal abundance and 42 percent of the birds remain in hunted areas.' The researchers synthesised 176 studies to quantify hunting-induced declines of mammal and bird populations across the tropics of Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The study was led by Ana Benítez-López, who works at the department of Environmental Science at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She cooperated with researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the universities of Wageningen and Utrecht in the Netherlands and a colleague from the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex. 'There are several drivers of animal decline in tropical landscapes: habitat destruction, overhunting, fragmentation etcetera. While deforestation and habitat loss can be monitored using remote sensing, hunting can only be tracked on the ground. We wanted to find a systematic and consistent way to estimate the impact of hunting across the tropics. As a starting point, we used the hypothesis that humans gather resources in a circle around their village and in the proximity of roads. As such, hunting pressure is higher in the proximity of villages and other access points. From there the densities of species increase up to a distance where no effect of hunting is observed. We called this species depletion distances which we quantified in our analysis. This allowed us to map hunting-induced declines across the tropics for the first time,' Benítez-López explains. Not only the big cuddly species The main novelty of the current study is that it combined the evidence across many local studies, thus for the first time providing an overarching picture of the magnitude of the impact across a large number of species. The study takes all animals into account - not only the big cuddly species, but birds and rodents as well. Benítez-López explains the difference in impact between birds and mammals: 'Mammals are more sought after because they're bigger and provide more food. They are worth a longer trip. The bigger the mammal, the further a hunter would walk to catch it.' With increasing wild meat demand for rural and urban supply, hunters have harvested the larger species almost to extinction in the proximity of the villages and they must travel further distances to hunt. Besides, for commercially interesting species such as elephants and gorillas, hunting distances are much larger because the returns are higher. Another interesting finding of this study is that mammal populations have also been reduced by hunting even within protected areas. 'Strategies to sustainably manage wild meat hunting in both protected and unprotected tropical ecosystems are urgently needed to avoid further defaunation,' she says. 'This includes monitoring hunting activities by increasing anti-poaching patrols and controlling overexploitation via law enforcement'. A. Benitez-Lopez*, R. Alkemade2,3, A. M. Schipper2, D. J. Ingram4, P. A. Verweij5, J. A. J. Eikelboom2,5,6, M. A. J. Huijbregts1, 2 . 2017. The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations. Science (accepted), April 14 2017 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaj1891 1Department of Environmental Science, Institute for Wetland and Water Research, Radboud University,The Netherlands2PBL, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, The Netherlands. 3Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands 4School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, UK. 5Energy and Resources group, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, 6Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University & Research The Netherlands
News Article | December 2, 2015
Emissions stall Humanity’s greenhouse-gas output increased by just 0.5% in 2014, despite significant global economic growth, according to figures released on 25 November. Carbon emissions rose by 3–4% per year in the first decade of the twenty-first century, but that growth has slowed dramatically over the past 3 years, report the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The biggest factor is China, where slower economic growth and a shift towards cleaner energy sources and less energy-intensive manufacturing have reduced the energy intensity of the economy. See go.nature.com/kphlae for more. Deforestation rises The rate of legal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has risen over the past year, Brazilian environment minister Izabella Teixeira announced on 26 November. Satellite images show that 5,831 square kilometres of forest were lost to activities such as livestock farming and agriculture in the year up to July 2015, a 16% increase on the previous year. The increases were largest in the states of Rondônia, Mato Grosso and Amazonas. Of these, Mato Grosso had the biggest area of forest loss, at 1,508 square kilometres. Efforts by the Brazilian federal government have generally been bringing down rates of deforestation, and the current rate is around one-fifth of that in 2004. Blue Origin gets to space and back Commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin — the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, head of online retail giant Amazon — completed a test of its reusable rocket on 23 November. The autonomous vehicle was successfully landed after it propelled a capsule to a height of more than 100 kilometres, which is classed as being in space. The flight comes just seven months after one of the company’s rockets was destroyed during a similar test. Blue Origin has not yet completed a crewed flight; the capsule is designed to carry up to six passengers into space. Anthrax vaccine An anthrax vaccine has become the first to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the ‘Animal Rule’, which allows approval on the basis of animal tests when studies in humans are not ethical or possible. The FDA announced on 23 November that the vaccine, called BioThrax, can be used after exposure to Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. BioThrax was initially approved in 1970 to prevent anthrax before exposure to the bacterium. The vaccine is made by Emergent BioDefense Operations Lansing in Michigan. Retraction data A searchable database should soon allow systematic identification of retracted publications. Posts and article identifiers from the blog Retraction Watch will be incorporated into a web application maintained by Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Virginia, that already tracks research activities such as posting preprints or depositing data sets. The resource will initially have about 5,000 entries, and was announced by both organizations on 24 November. LHC heavy metal After spending five months colliding protons following a major upgrade this year, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, began a one-month run of experiments with heavy ions on 25 November. All main detectors at the accelerator — including ALICE, which was designed for this purpose — are now studying the state of matter known as quark–gluon plasma, which can arise when two nuclei of lead-208 collide. In these collisions, the nuclei carry a record-breaking energy of more than 1 petaelectronvolt. Energy partnership A group of 28 investors from 10 countries has launched a multibillion-dollar clean-energy research partnership. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, spearheaded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and including Virgin founder Richard Branson and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, was announced on 30 November, on the opening day of the international climate-change negotiations in Paris. The private partnership aims to support early-stage research into low-carbon technologies for future energy supply. It will complement energy-research efforts announced by US President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande on the same day, dubbed ‘Mission Innovation’. See go.nature.com/wzigmx for more. Maurice Strong Maurice Strong, the founding head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a leading figure in climate-change politics, has died aged 86. He was a major figure in organizing the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and creating the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Strong is regarded as one of the most important people in the history of the environmental and sustainability movements. In a statement released by UNEP on 28 November, Achim Steiner, the current head of the agency, called him a visionary and a pioneer of global sustainable development. Rhino-horn ban A South African court has lifted a ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn (pictured) after two game farmers claimed that it infringed their right to trade in a renewable substance. On 26 November, the judge ruled that the ban, introduced in 2009, had not undergone proper public consultation. He added that since 2008 the number of South African rhinos poached for their horns has increased from less than 100 per year to around 1,200. Conservation group Save the Rhino asked how a national ban could fuel poaching, which mainly serves overseas markets, given that the international trade is illegal. The South African government is to appeal the ruling; the law will stay in place until the appeal has been heard. Carbon plan canned On 25 November, the UK government scrapped a £1-billion (US$1.5-billion) competition to build a demonstration carbon capture and storage plant. Funding for the project — intended to demonstrate that carbon dioxide can be filtered out of power-plant exhaust gases on a commercial scale — has been on the table since 2012, but was removed from government plans in the latest five-year spending review. Open-access policy The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is tightening its open-access policy to demand that research results become universally available as soon as authors publish them. NWO-funded researchers were previously obliged either to publish in an open-access journal or to submit a version of their work to a public database ‘as soon as possible’ after publishing in a pay-to-read journal. From 1 December, new grant conditions require Dutch researchers to make work immediately accessible. To avoid conflicting with journals that enforce embargo periods, such as Nature, researchers can submit pre-peer-review versions to a database. Animal clones A huge animal-cloning centre in Tianjin, China, will open early in 2016. Launched with 200 million yuan (US$31.3 million) from Sinica, a subsidiary of BoyaLife in Wuxi, the Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biomedicine, Peking University in Beijing and Sooam Biotech in Seoul, the centre will clone cattle, dogs and racehorses. BoyaLife says that the aim is to produce one million cloned cow embryos annually to help Chinese farmers to meet demand for beef. Italian expo The Italian government enacted a decree on 25 November that allocates €80 million (US$85 million) to launch a major research centre to focus on big-data exploitation in health and nutrition, as well as nanotechnologies. Called Human Technopole, the centre will take over part of the site used for the 2015 international exhibition called Milan Expo. It will continue the theme of the exhibition — ‘feeding the planet, energy for life’. Human Technopole will be led by the Genoa-based Italian Institute of Technology and will eventually employ more than 1,000 researchers. European politicians often allow more fish to be taken from the seas than is recommended by scientists. Yet this excess varies by country, according to a study (G. Carpenter et al. Mar. Policy 64, 9–15; 2016). In 2001, the total catch permitted in the European Union averaged 33% more than that advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In 2015, this fell to 7% above the advised level. EU politicians negotiate catch limits in secret, but more transparency is needed, say the authors. 3–4 December The first International Workshop on Metamaterials-by-design takes place in Paris. go.nature.com/hkzg9s 8–9 December The Royal Society of Medicine and the Nutrition Society in London jointly host a meeting that will look at the role of sleep in obesity and nutrition. go.nature.com/xigwne
Arnell N.W.,University of Reading |
van Vuuren D.P.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Isaac M.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Global Environmental Change | Year: 2011
This paper assesses the implications of climate policy for exposure to water resources stresses. It compares a Reference scenario which leads to an increase in global mean temperature of 4°C by the end of the 21st century with a Mitigation scenario which stabilises greenhouse gas concentrations at around 450ppm CO2e and leads to a 2°C increase in 2100. Associated changes in river runoff are simulated using a global hydrological model, for four spatial patterns of change in temperature and rainfall. There is a considerable difference in hydrological change between these four patterns, but the percentages of change avoided at the global scale are relatively robust. By the 2050s, the Mitigation scenario typically avoids between 16 and 30% of the change in runoff under the Reference scenario, and by 2100 it avoids between 43 and 65%. Two different measures of exposure to water resources stress are calculated, based on resources per capita and the ratio of withdrawals to resources. Using the first measure, the Mitigation scenario avoids 8-17% of the impact in 2050 and 20-31% in 2100; with the second measure, the avoided impacts are 5-21% and 15-47% respectively. However, at the same time, the Mitigation scenario also reduces the positive impacts of climate change on water scarcity in other areas. The absolute numbers and locations of people affected by climate change and climate policy vary considerably between the four climate model patterns. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
den Elzen M.G.J.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Hof A.F.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Roelfsema M.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Global Environmental Change | Year: 2011
As part of the Copenhagen Accord, Annex I Parties (industrialised countries) and non-Annex I Parties (developing countries) have submitted reduction proposals (pledges) and mitigation actions to the UNFCCC secretariat. Our calculations show that if the current reduction offers of Annex I and non-Annex I countries are fully implemented, global greenhouse gas emissions could amount to 48.6-49.7 GtCO2eq by 2020. Recent literature suggests that the emission level should be between 42 and 46 GtCO2eq by 2020 to maintain a "medium" chance (50-66%) of meeting the 2°C target. The emission gap is therefore 2.6-7.7 GtCO2eq. We have identified a combined set of options, which could result in an additional 2.8 GtCO2eq emission reduction. This would lead to an emission level just within the range needed. The options include reducing deforestation and emissions from bunker fuels, excluding emissions allowance increases from land use and forestry rules, and taking into account the national climate plans of China and India. However, there are also important risks that could widen the emissions gap, like lower reductions from countries with only a conditional pledge and the use of Kyoto and/or trading of new surplus emission allowances. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
de Hartog J.J.,University Utrecht |
Boogaard H.,University Utrecht |
Nijland H.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Hoek G.,University Utrecht
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2010
Background: Although from a societal point of view a modal shift from car to bicycle may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased levels of physical activity, shifts in individual adverse health effects such as higher exposure to air pollution and risk of a traffic accident may prevail. Objective: We describe whether the health benefits from the increased physical activity of a modal shift for urban commutes outweigh the health risks. Data sources and extraction: We have summarized the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents, and physical activity using systematic reviews supplemented with recent key studies. Data synthesis: We quantified the impact on all-cause mortality when 500,000 people would make a transition from car to bicycle for short trips on a daily basis in the Netherlands. We have expressed mortality impacts in life-years gained or lost, using life table calculations. For individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3-14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8-40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5-9 days lost). Societal benefits are even larger because of a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents. Conclusions: On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting their mode of transport.
van Vuuren D.P.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Riahi K.,International Institute For Applied Systems Analysis
Climatic Change | Year: 2011
The relationship between long-term climate goals and short/medium-term emission targets forms crucial information for the design of international climate policy. Since IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4), a large number of new scenario studies have been published. This paper reviews this new literature and finds that there is more flexibility in the timing of short-term emission reductions compared to the earlier scenarios assessed by the AR4. For instance, the current literature suggests that a peak of emissions in 2020 and even 2030 would be consistent with limiting temperature change to about 2°C in the long term. The timing when emissions peak depends on whether negative emissions in the long-term can be achieved. The recent scenarios further indicate that global emissions by 2050 should be 40-80% below 2000 levels. Above all, the paper argues that there is no clear, single "law" that would directly determine the required emissions levels in 2020, but that instead policy-makers need to consider trade-offs between the likelihood of achieving long-term targets, the short-term costs, and their expectation with respect to future technologies (and their possible failure). The higher flexibility might be important in finding acceptable agreements on international climate policy. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Klein Goldewijk K.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Beusen A.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Van Drecht G.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
De Vos M.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2011
Aim This paper presents a tool for long-term global change studies; it is an update of the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) with estimates of some of the underlying demographic and agricultural driving factors.Methods Historical population, cropland and pasture statistics are combined with satellite information and specific allocation algorithms (which change over time) to create spatially explicit maps, which are fully consistent on a 5′ longitude/latitude grid resolution, and cover the period 10,000 bc to ad 2000.Results Cropland occupied roughly less than 1% of the global ice-free land area for a long time until ad 1000, similar to the area used for pasture. In the centuries that followed, the share of global cropland increased to 2% in ad 1700 (c. 3 million km2) and 11% in ad 2000 (15 million km2), while the share of pasture area grew from 2% in ad 1700 to 24% in ad 2000 (34 million km2) These profound land-use changes have had, and will continue to have, quite considerable consequences for global biogeochemical cycles, and subsequently global climate change.Main conclusions Some researchers suggest that humans have shifted from living in the Holocene (emergence of agriculture) into the Anthropocene (humans capable of changing the Earth's atmosphere) since the start of the Industrial Revolution. But in the light of the sheer size and magnitude of some historical land-use changes (e.g. as result of the depopulation of Europe due to the Black Death in the 14th century and the aftermath of the colonization of the Americas in the 16th century) we believe that this point might have occurred earlier in time. While there are still many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge about the importance of land use (change) in the global biogeochemical cycle, we hope that this database can help global (climate) change modellers to close parts of this gap. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Van Vliet J.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Energy Journal | Year: 2010
In order to limit global mean temperature increase to less than 2°C, long-term greenhouse gas concentrations must remain low. This paper discusses how such low concentrations can be reached, based on results from the IMAGE modelling framework (including TIMER and FAIR). We show that the attainability of low greenhouse gas concentration targets, in particular 450 and 400 ppm CO2 equivalent critically depends on model assumptions, such as bio-energy potentials. Under standard model assumptions, these targets can be reached, although the lowest requires the use of bio-energy in combination with carbon-capture-and-storage. Regions are affected differently by ambitious climate policies in terms of energy and land use, although stringent emission reductions will be required in all regions. Resulting co-benefits of climate policy (such as energy security and air pollution) are also different across world regions. Copyright © 2010 by the IAEE.
Benitez-Lopez A.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Alkemade R.,Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency |
Verweij P.A.,University Utrecht
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010
Biodiversity is being lost at an increased rate as a result of human activities. One of the major threats to biodiversity is infrastructural development. We used meta-analyses to study the effects of infrastructure proximity on mammal and bird populations. Data were gathered from 49 studies on 234 mammal and bird species. The main response by mammals and birds in the vicinity of infrastructure was either avoidance or a reduced population density. The mean species abundance, relative to non-disturbed distances (MSA), was used as the effect size measure. The impact of infrastructure distance on MSA was studied using meta-analyses. Possible sources of heterogeneity in the results of the meta-analysis were explored with meta-regression. Mammal and bird population densities declined with their proximity to infrastructure. The effect of infrastructure on bird populations extended over distances up to about 1. km, and for mammal populations up to about 5. km. Mammals and birds seemed to avoid infrastructure in open areas over larger distances compared to forested areas, which could be related to the reduced visibility of the infrastructure in forested areas. We did not find a significant effect of traffic intensity on the MSA of birds. Species varied in their response to infrastructure. Raptors were found to be more abundant in the proximity of infrastructure whereas other bird taxa tended to avoid it. Abundances were affected at variable distances from infrastructure: within a few meters for small-sized mammals and up to several hundred meters for large-sized mammals. Our findings show the importance of minimizing infrastructure development for wildlife conservation in relatively undisturbed areas. By combining actual species distributions with the effect distance functions we developed, regions sensitive to infrastructure development may be identified. Additionally, the effect distance functions can be used in models in support of decision making on infrastructure planning. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
News Article | February 4, 2016
New analysis finds that China holds the key to achieving the 2 degree Celsius global climate goal reaffirmed by 195 countries in Paris. According to research by Barclays Bank, China accounts for 33-40 percent of the carbon emissions gap between current trends and a 2 degree Celsius pathway. This is not surprising, since China was responsible for over one-quarter of the world’s carbon emissions in 2014, more than the U.S. and the European Union combined. The good news is that China is moving forward much faster than anyone expected to cut its coal use and CO2 emissions, with enormous implications for public health, the environment, and climate. These trends are expected to continue. In fact, China is now on a path to achieving its Paris climate commitments well before its 2030 target date. China’s physical coal consumption, after increasing at an annual rate of 8.8 percent from 2000-2013 and falling by 2.9 percent in 2014, dropped an additional 5 percent in 2015, even while the economy continued to grow. China’s coal imports also fell by a whopping 30 percent in 2015, including a 35 percent year-on-year reduction in December alone compared to the previous December. These reductions are extremely important because coal is responsible for about 83 percent of China’s fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions and 50-60 percent of the most damaging form of air pollution choking China’s cities. As a result of the drop in China’s coal consumption, analysis suggests that China’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption dropped by a record-breaking 2 percent in 2015, equivalent to about 200 million tons of CO2, more than the total for entire countries like Argentina, Venezuela or Poland. That is roughly equal to the cumulative emissions from the 100 countries with the lowest emissions. This decline is striking given the fact that China’s annual emissions had been growing by an average of 6.7 percent per year over most of the last decade. Moreover, thanks in large part to China’s decreasing coal use, global CO2 emissions are estimated to have declined by about 0.6 percent in 2015. If this is confirmed, it will be the first-ever drop in global CO2 emissions during a period of economic growth. The drop in China’s coal consumption is not just a statistical error. Many other measures confirm that China’s coal industry has been on a downward spiral for the past two or three years. China’s coal mining industry has about 1.5 billion tons of surplus production capacity, with over 80 percent of China’s coal mining companies operating at a loss. Job losses are mounting in the coal industry, and coal exporting countries like Australia have been hit hard as Chinese imports of foreign coal fell. The news that China’s coal consumption is dropping may be somewhat confusing, given the fact that China recently revised its historical coal consumption statistics upward. Yet this revision only applied to the 2000-2013 time period, and should not overshadow the fact that the Chinese coal industry has experienced a dramatic downturn since then, and actually may have peaked in 2013-2014. Moreover, as the PBL Netherland Environmental Assessment Agency noted, all national emission inventories are subject to uncertainty, and the considerable effort China put into revising its energy statistics has “definitely resulted” in better estimates of real fossil fuel consumption – which should also help to make future estimates more reliable. So why did China’s coal consumption and CO2 emissions drop? It’s not just due to China’s economic slowdown, as some have speculated. Rather, it is being driven by the political imperative to tackle air pollution (which first sparked major public outrage in 2013), concerns about climate change, and the recognition that an economic model focused on heavy industry is no longer sustainable. As a result, China has now adopted a different economic model, focused on slower but higher-quality growth, with positive results for the climate. As the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency explained in its 2015 report: The main reason for the curbing of global CO2 emissions is the change in the world’s fossil-fuel use due to the structural change in the economy and in the energy mix of China over the past three years…towards a less energy-intensive service sector and a high value-added manufacturing industry that is focused more on domestic consumption, with more energy efficiency, and towards a low-carbon energy mix. These structural changes are not accidental: China is taking decisive action to curb its reliance on coal, massively scale up non-fossil energy, phase out heavy industry, and cut energy demand through greater efficiency. Here’s how: As a result of all of these efforts to phase out coal, accelerate clean energy, and improve energy efficiency, as well as transition to a more service-oriented economy, China has actually begun to decouple its economic growth from electricity demand and reliance on polluting industries, a remarkable feat for any country. And according to Sophie Lu of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “as electricity demand continues to slow, clean energy may be used more to replace dirtier capacity.” This trend is expected to continue. According to a Bloomberg report, the Chinese government announced this week that it will cut crude steel production capacity by as much as 150 million tons and make further “large-scale” reductions in coal output this year as part of major supply-side reforms designed to curb overcapacity and excess labor in state-owned industries. The China Academy of Sciences expects coal production to fall another 4 percent in 2016, the third straight year of decline. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis projects that electricity demand will grow only 3-4 percent in 2016, but the planned 64 GW in additional zero carbon electricity capacity will be more than enough to meet total demand growth. It remains to be seen just how quickly China will be able to achieve its Paris climate commitments – to peak CO2 emissions, meet 20 percent of its energy demand with non-fossil sources and cut carbon intensity by 60-65 percent below 2005 levels. These are far from easy tasks. The government still needs to tackle oil and gas consumption, reconsider plans to build new coal power bases, and coal chemicals plants in western China, and rein in local government officials, who approved 64 GW of effectively idle thermal power generating capacity last year, when electricity demand was essentially flat. It will also have to find ways to help workers and families hit hard by these massive economic reforms. But one thing seems clear: China is turning away from coal faster than anybody expected. And that is very good news for the health of China’s citizens and for the future of our planet. This post was co-authored by my colleagues NRDC China Climate and Energy Project Director Alvin Lin, Princeton in Asia Fellow Colin Smith, and NRDC International Climate Advocate Han Chen.