Thursday, 3 September 2009

India will be key player at Copenhagen conference, says Miliband

Climate change secretary praises India's renewable targets and 'big ambitions', cementing cordial relations between the countries
Randeep Ramesh in Delhi, Wednesday 2 September 2009 18.31 BST
Ed Miliband, Britain's climate change secretary, hailed India as a potential "deal maker" in the forthcoming talks in Copenhagen for an international treaty to tackle global warming, stating that the country would not face targets to cut its emissions in the near future because it "took climate change seriously".
The UK's "softly-softly" approach has won plaudits in India, and contrasts with that of US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, whose visit in July resulted in a spat with environment minister Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh. India has categorically ruled out greenhouse gas cuts, arguing that rich nations caused the problem and must not deny Indians the opportunity to grow out of poverty.
In an interview with the Guardian, Miliband and development secretary Douglas Alexander said India would not have to reduce emissions by 2020 – the year when the European Union has offered to cut by a third its greenhouse gas output – given that Delhi was "not doing things on a 'business as usual basis'".
"India has very stretching targets on solar energy, on renewable energy … it has big ambitions on energy efficiency … I think India wants to be a deal maker not a deal breaker in Copenhagen," said Miliband.
India already generates 8% of its power from renewables – more than the UK. It says it aims to have 20,000MW of solar energy in place by 2020 and make fuel efficiency standards mandatory for cars from 2011 as part of a package to reduce the nation's carbon footprint.
After Clinton's visit, Delhi accused the United States of applying pressure on India to curb its greenhouse gas emissions. The United States wants big developing countries such as India and China, whose emissions are quickly rising as their economies grow, to agree to rein them in before Washington commits to any global deal.
Today the Indian government released a series of studies showing the country's greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise – citing a range between 2.8 and 5.0 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in 2031. The government estimates India's current per-capita emissions at 1.2 tonnes – significantly below the current global average of 4 tonnes.
"Even two decades from now, India's per-capita greenhouse gas emissions will be below the global average of 25 years earlier," said the Indian minister.
Although Miliband welcomed the report, the British minister said the negotiations in the run up to Copenhagen centred on when "emissions in different countries peak past 2020".
Miliband highlighted July's L'Aquila agreement – where the world's richest nations reached a symbolic deal with India, China and other major polluters on the need to limit global warming to within 2 degrees centigrade to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Despite this pledge Miliband stopped short of calling of emission reduction targets for big, emerging economies such as India after 2020. "That is one of the questions we have got to resolve… we want to work with India".
Another key area of difference revolves around carbon capture and storage technologies that Britain has promoted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indian officials have complained about the cost of such plants, which aim to capture carbon dioxide created by industry and pump them deep underground.
However Miliband pointed to India's rising reliance on coal as a source of power as a reason why the Asian nation might embrace the technology. "India seems to be most interested in solar technology. Let me be honest with you there is no solution to the problem of climate change that does not solve the problem of coal."
Campaigners said British ministers' softly-softly approach showed the west had "come a long way". "I think they are beginning to understand the ground realities in India. You have to talk to each other not at each other," said Sunita Narain of Delhi's Centre for Science and the Environment.
However Narain said that there was still some way to go. She said industrial nations must curb their own pollution and provide funding and technology to help developing nations before the latter are asked to set limits that could crimp their economic expansion.
Douglas Alexander, Britain's development secretary, pointed out that Gordon Brown had proposed $100bn (£62bn) a year for a global green fund that could "unlock new sources of financing".

Goggle-eyed protesters swim against carbon trading tide

Climate Camp activists sat in kayaks and wore goggles at DECC headquarters to protest against carbon trading and capture
Alok Jha, Wednesday 2 September 2009 13.15 BST
Visitors to the department for energy and climate change (DECC) headquarters in London this morning would have noticed something odd about the reception area: 15 climate activists wearing arm bands, goggles and sitting in kayaks. The protest, organised by members of the Camp for Climate Action, is a stand against carbon trading and carbon capture and storage technology, ideas the activists say are "false solutions" to climate change.
The activists said they wanted to highlight the problems of rising sea levels as a result of climate change.
"We thought that DECC's staff and Ed Miliband might appreciate some goggles and floats because if they continue with their destructive policies they will need them," said Jane Roberts, one of the protesters. "It really is sink or survive for the future of humanity now.
"Climate change is being caused by the same economic and political system that has caused the economic meltdown. Rather than getting serious about tackling climate change, DECC is simply seeking to preserve these failed systems with false solutions, such as carbon trading."
The protesters have a particular gripe with carbon trading, which puts a price on polluting with carbon dioxide and is one of the mechanisms proposed by international governments as a way to regulate carbon emissions.
Hassan Beg, a climate camp activist, also criticised government plans to ensure future UK coal power stations are built with technology to capture and store 20-25% of their carbon emissions. "Considering DECC's vested interest in the coal industry, it is no coincidence that they are promoting unproven carbon capture and storage technology to justify E.ON building a new dirty coal-power station at Kingsnorth and a new generation of open-cast coal mines," said Beg. "One can't help wondering whether the Vestas wind turbine factory would have been given the financial assistance necessary to stay open if it had been coal."
A DECC spokesperson said: "We all value our freedoms to speak out, gather together and demonstrate. This action has not disrupted the department's work to fight climate change and safeguard the nation's energy security. We are the first country in the world to set out a comprehensive plan to cut our emissions – by at least a third by 2020. Our action here will help us push for an ambitious global deal at Copenhagen to tackle global warming."

Prescott: cutting emissions by 80% will not be enough

Warning by former minister who helped broker Kyoto Protocol
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Thursday, 3 September 2009

John Prescott will play a key role at the UN meeting in Copenhagen later this year in his new, high-profile role helping to broker global agreements on climate change
Europe's climate targets of cutting carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 may not be tough enough to get developing countries into a worldwide global warming deal, John Prescott has warned.
In an interview with The Independent, the former Deputy Prime Minister, who brokered the current climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, said a 90 per cent cut might be needed in order to secure an agreement at December's UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
Countries such as India are likely to ask rich Western countries to cut back on atmospheric CO2 still further so that developing countries can continue to expand their economies and pull more of their people out of poverty, said Mr Prescott, who has taken on an influential new role as the rapporteur on climate change for the Council of Europe.
They believe the developed world has done most to pollute the atmosphere, and so developed countries should do most to clean it up, Mr Prescott said – adding that he thought the European Union targets might have to be toughened to a 40 per cent interim cut by 2020 and a 90 per cent cut by 2050. Otherwise, he said, India, China and other developing countries would not agree to cut their own emissions in a new climate treaty.
Mr Prescott knows all about how to reach climate deals having played a central role in brokering the Kyoto agreement in December 1997 after negotiations in the Japanese city had reached deadlock. Now he is returning to a major role in climate politics; both with the Council of Europe, which is holding its own pre-Copenhagen conference in Strasbourg later this month, and in the UK. From 21 September, he will be touring English schools lecturing on the importance of the meeting, and this week he is in China giving a speech on the need for a climate deal at Xiamen University.
Mr Prescott said that the European model of future cuts – already regarded as very demanding to some developed countries – would not be tough enough to bring the developing world on board at Copenhagen, where the international community will seek to replace Kyoto with a treaty that is capable of keeping the temperature rises of global warming to below C, thought to be the maximum that society can safely endure.
"The targets we've set are not going to be accepted by the developing countries as fair," Mr Prescott said. "Europe has set a 20 per cent cut as an interim target, which will become 30 per cent if we reach a deal at Copenhagen, but the developing countries are likely to say it should be 40 per cent, and 90 per cent as the long-term target.
"The current European figures, which I take to be the template, are not enough to make an agreement with the developing world. I don't think there's any doubt about it – the rich countries have got to give more on emissions. The heart of the developing countries' argument is: 'You carry the highest burden because you're the polluter'. And India's being much more truculent about this, saying, 'Listen, you should clear it up while we get on with our development'."
Mr Prescott believes that equity has to be central to any deal – that is, the sharing out of the amount of carbon emitted globally, without causing a climate catastrophe, must be fair.
But he is aware that there are many obstacles to an agreement. Europe's proposed cuts, never mind not being tough enough for China and India, may be seen as too tough by some of the rich countries. "Securing a deal will be 10 times more difficult than Kyoto," he said. "But the climate change we're experiencing across the world has been caused by developed counties. They must now recognise that the polluter pays."

Tory frontbench signs up to 10:10 climate change campaign

David Adam and Randeep Ramesh in Delhi, Wednesday 2 September 2009 23.11 BST
Politicians across the spectrum today embraced the 10:10 climate change campaign, with the Conservative party pledging their entire frontbench would sign up.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg signed up personally and the party said it would put a motion before its autumn conference to commit the party as a whole to meet the campaign aim of cutting carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.
Organisers of the 10:10 campaign said last night that more than 8,000 individuals had signed up. Some 270 businesses, including law firm Pinsent Masons, Reed Recruitment, Ocado and Oracle, and four major power companies, have so far pledged their support, as well as nine councils, 42 schools and 125 other organisations, such as the thinktank Demos.
Actor Alan Rickman, comedian Shazia Mirza and former England footballer Graeme Le Saux were among those who committed to cut their own emissions yesterday, joining a roster of high profile backers that includes Delia Smith, Colin Firth, Nicholas Stern and Stella McCartney.
The shadow energy secretary, Greg Clark, said: "Conservatives strongly support this campaign. Once again it shows how voluntary action can show the way, proving that a low-carbon future is an essential, achievable and urgent priority."
Energy and climate secretary Ed Miliband spoke to the 10:10 launch event at Tate Modern from India via phone link. He pledged to cut his personal carbon footprint and emissions from his department's headquarters by 10% in 2010.
The Green party said it would encourage its members to join up to the 10:10 campaign, and could table an emergency resolution to its conference on the subject. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the party, said: "I would encourage all Green party members to commit to this, bearing in mind that most Greens will have been striving to reduce their carbon footprints anyway, and for many people the next steps towards, for example, carbon-neutral housing, would need to be facilitated by a package of government grants, subsidies and feed-in tariffs."
The 10:10 campaigners aim to provide a way for people to take action against climate change that is both meaningful and achievable, and to place pressure on the British government.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The government welcomes the national 10:10 campaign. By signing up … we hope people will send a broader message to governments round the world.
"Governments can't do everything so we're delighted that there are mass movements such as this."
A further aspiration of the 10:10 campaign is to influence international talks in Copenhagen in December at which a treaty to tackle global warming will be thrashed out. , Today diplomacy ahead of the talks continued with Ed Miliband meeting the Indian government in Dehli and stating clearly that the country would not face targets to cut its carbon emissions in the near future because it "took climate change seriously".
This "softly-softly" approach won immediate plaudits in Dehli, and contrasts with that of US secretary of state Hilary Clinton, whose visit in July resulted in a spat with Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh. India has categorically ruled out binding greenhouse gas cuts, arguing that rich nations caused the problem and must not deny Indians the opportunity to grow out of poverty. India also insists that industrial nations demonstrate curbs on their own pollution before asking developing nations to set limits.
The US wants major developing countries to agree to rein emissions in before Washington commits to any global deal.

Wearing thermals won't save the planet

Why is the 10:10 campaign, with its pledges to turn off lights and grow more veg, taken more seriously than geo-engineering?
Brendan O'Neill, Wednesday 2 September 2009 12.36 BST
It never ceases to amaze me that people who say we can "save the planet" by wearing a jumper or growing our own veg are treated with the utmost seriousness, while those who argue that tackling climate change might require some larger-scale projects – such as geo-engineering the Earth – are treated as sci-fi freaks who should stick to reading Philip K Dick novels and stop polluting public debate with their insane ideas.
When it comes to climate change, the only acceptable debate, it seems, is how we can encourage ordinary people to do less, consume less and fly less. Bigger and more far-reaching ideas about how we might offset the impact of climate change are elbowed off the agenda.
This reveals something profound about environmentalism: it is not really a campaign to find solutions to the practical problem of climate change, but rather has become a semi-religious, almost medieval demonisation of human behaviour as dirty and destructive. This is really a priestly, ideological effort to lower people's horizons and expectations, rather than a focused attempt to create a less polluted planet.
Consider the events of yesterday. First, the 10:10 campaign – supported by the Guardian – was launched. Its aim is to encourage people and organisations to cut their carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.
Second, the Royal Society published a report on the need to invest in geo-engineering projects, such as putting a giant mirror on the moon to deflect the sun ray's from Earth or erecting enormous "CO2 scrubbers" to clean the air. (In keeping with orthodoxy, however, the Royal Society also said that such projects should not detract from their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.)
Needless to say, the 10:10 campaign – with its exhortations to "turn off the lights" or "grow veg on the balcony" – was treated more seriously than the Royal Society report. Indeed, Greenpeace rubbished any talk of geo-engineering, claiming that "intervening in our planet's systems carries huge risks" and will "undermine" the need to continue pursuing "emissions reductions". In short, large-scale solutions to climate change only divert attention from the myopic, mean-spirited focus on changing people's behaviour and outlook.
Unfortunately, the 10:10 campaign highlights the petty moralism behind environmentalism. At the launch at the Tate Modern last night, the artist Bob and Roberta Smith suggested that people who own a 4x4 should spend a "night in the cells". Another attendee said "it's immoral to be wasteful".
Other 10:10 supporters promise to eat less "junk food" and to take fewer flights. It's hard to know what is more galling about these pledges to live a cleaner life: the fact that they implicitly demonise certain forms of leisurely behaviour – especially the kind enjoyed by the 4x4-driving, junk-food-eating nouveau riche – or the idea that making these minor changes will "save the planet".
There is a glaring disconnect between the scaremongering employed by environmentalists and their proposed solutions. In one breath they tell us we face the worst crisis in human history, one which will make "genocide and ethnic cleansing look like sideshows at the circus of human suffering", and in the next they tell us we can avoid this disaster by wearing thermal underwear instead of turning on the heat and going to Leon instead of McDonald's.
No wonder "ordinary people" aren't enthusiastically signing up to the environmentalist ethos. They know it simply doesn't make sense to say that we face an enviro-holocaust and then to claim we can prevent it by not taking a cheap flight to Majorca. Yesterday Ian Katz said that only "a small, saintly portion of the population" is taking climate change seriously; that is because the larger, presumably un-saintly portion of the population instinctively recognises that changing their lightbulbs will not prevent the alleged End of Days.
The moralistic nature of environmentalism was revealed in the reports of the 10:10 launch. It took place in the Tate Modern, a "cathedral to the concept of cutting emissions", the Guardian said; individuals held up pledge cards and promised to wear the 10:10 necklace, like a modern-day crucifix marking them out as Good. It reminded me more than anything else of those youthful members of the religious right in the US who take pledges to be decent people, only where they "just say no" to sex and alcohol, the 10:10 supporters "just say no" to junk food and flights.
Franny Armstrong flatteringly compares the 10:10 campaign to the Suffragette movement. Yet Sylvia Pankhurst said: "Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance … We do not call for limitation of births, for penurious thrift, and self-denial. We call for a great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume." The 10:10 campaign, I'm afraid, is the very opposite of that.

Tories and Lib Dems welcome 10:10 climate campaign

Shadow cabinet will pledge to cut emissions by next year while Lib Dems will table motion at autumn conference
David Adam, Wednesday 2 September 2009 09.55 BST
Politicians from across the spectrum have welcomed the 10:10 campaign, with the Conservative party pledging their frontbench would sign up, and the Lib Dems putting a motion before their autumn conference for the party to cut its emissions by 10%.
Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem energy spokesman, attended the launch of the 10:10 campaign last night at the Tate Modern gallery, which is in his constituency of North Southwark and Bermondsey.
To a rousing cheer from the large crowd who had gathered to hear the band Reverend and the Makers, he pledged to table a motion at the national conference in Bournemouth in September for the party to sign up.
The shadow energy secretary, Greg Clark, said: "Conservatives strongly support this campaign. Once again it shows how voluntary action can show the way, proving that a low-carbon future is an essential, achievable and urgent priority.
"2010 was the year by which the last three labour manifestos promised a 20% cut in CO2 emissions, perhaps 2010 will be the year when we can have a government that not only signs up to pledges but delivers on them."
Energy and climate secretary Ed Miliband spoke to the crowds at Tate Modern from India via phone link. He pledged to cut his personal carbon footprint and emissions from his department's headquarters by 10% in 2010.
According to a Guardian/ICM poll published today, while almost all Britons claim to have made some effort to live environmentally-friendly lives, almost two-thirds also say they could do more.
The poll also shows strong public support for individual action to reduce carbon emissions, with 85% saying that people should fit low energy lightbulbs, and 86% said that they should turn down their heating.
The Green party said it would encourage its members to join up to the 10:10 campaign, and could table an emergency resolution to its autumn conference on the subject. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the party, said: "I would encourage all Green party members to commit to this, bearing in mind that most Greens will have been striving to reduce their carbon footprints anyway, in some cases for decades, and for many people the next steps towards, for example, carbon-neutral housing, would need to be facilitated by a package of government grants, subsidies and feed-in tariffs."
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The government welcomes the national 10:10 campaign and its challenge to business and the public to cut their emissions by 10% in 2010. With fewer than 100 days until Copenhagen this is a great opportunity to show we are prepared to act.
"By signing up to the 10:10 campaign, we hope people will send a broader message to governments round the world. They need to agree a global deal at Copenhagen that is ambitious in cutting emissions, fair to developing countries and effective in holding countries to their word.
"The 10:10 campaign complements the activities of government. We are doing a huge amount to help people cut emissions. But government can't do everything so we're delighted that there are mass movements such as this."

US climate change bill faces fresh delays

Despite growing support for a change in energy policy, delays over the bill will undermine the US position at the climate change talks in Copenhagen
Danny Bradbury and James Murray, BusinessGreen, Wednesday 2 September 2009 11.53 BST
The Obama administration has reportedly been meeting with clean-technology executives to help flesh out a new energy strategy to be unveiled later this month.
The unveiling of the energy strategy, which is expected to coincide with a high-level UN meeting on climate change to be held in New York, will punctuate a set of increasingly bold moves on the part of the Obama administration intended to secure support for the proposed Waxman-Markey climate change bill as it awaits a crucial Senate vote.
However, that vote now looks set to face further delays after Senate Democrats announced yesterday that the latest version of the legislation would not be unveiled until "later in September".
A Senate vote on the bill, which had originally been passed by the House of Representatives back in June, was originally expected back in July only to see it delayed until early September.
The latest delays were attributed to the on-going row over President Obama's healthcare reforms and continued opposition to the bill from some Democrat Senators who have demanded concessions designed to support carbon intensive US industries.
Critics said that any further delays would seriously undermine the US position at forthcoming international climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
A spokesman for Senate majority leader Harry Reid said that he fully expected the Senate to have "ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year".
There was better news, however, for the proposed bill after a Washington-Post ABC news poll of over 1,000 adults which found that 57% support the president's handling of energy policy.
Moreover, 58% of respondents said they would support an emissions cap-and-trade scheme if it only results in modest increases in energy bills of $10 a month, while only 15% agreed with repeated Republican claims that the bill would kill off jobs.
There was also a ringing endorsement for the president's energy efficiency measures, with over 80% supporting legal requirements for car manufacturers to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and over 70% supporting federal requirements to conserve commercial and domestic energy use.
The results will be welcomed by supporters of the bill who have been engaged in an increasingly fraught battle with lobby groups opposed to the legislation, several of whom have been accused of engaging in underhand tactics designed to exaggerate the scale of opposition to the bill.

Great Barrier Reef facing 'catastrophic damage' from climate change

The Great Barrier Reef faces "catastrophic damage" from climate change and chemical runoff, according to a major report carried out by the Australian government.

By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney Published: 12:34PM BST 02 Sep 2009

The reef, which stretches for 1,200 miles off the northeast coast of Australia, has "poor" prospects of survival as a result of over-development and a failure by the relevant authorities to protect it from illegal fishing and chemical run-off, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said its first report on the state of the reef's health.
The report warned that damage to mangroves, increasing algae on coral reefs, ocean acidification and coral bleaching were already evident.
"While populations of almost all marine species are intact and there are no records of extinctions, some ecologically important species, such as dugongs, marine turtles, seabirds, black teatfish and some sharks, have declined significantly," it said.
"Disease in corals and pest outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and cyanobacteria appear to be becoming more frequent and more serious."
The Outlook Report 2009, found climate change, declining water quality from coastal runoff, development and illegal fishing were the biggest dangers to the reef.
While the World Heritage-protected site, which sprawls for more than 133,000sq miles and is the world's largest living organism, is in a better position than most other reefs globally, the risk of its destruction was mounting.
"Even with the recent management initiatives to improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor and catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be averted," the report found.
"If changes in the world's climate become too severe, no management actions will be able to climate-proof" its ecosystem, it said.
The study echoed findings by scientists belonging to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the Great Barrier Reef could be "functionally extinct" within decades, with deadly coral bleaching likely to be an annual occurrence by 2030.
Improving water quality and further research into the effects of fishing were among initiatives that will give the reef the best chance of adapting to the "serious threats" ahead, the authority said.
The Australian government responded to the report with a plan to cut the amount of pollution reaching the reef in runoff water from agricultural land.
The reef, which is larger than Italy, contributes about $A5.4 billion to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing and other industries and supports more than 50,000 jobs, according government figures.

Fear fuels the new global oil rush

Renewed concern about oil supplies caused by rising demand has driven a spate of recent oil discoveries
Terry Macalister, Wednesday 2 September 2009 19.15 BST

New technology, higher oil prices and a renewed sense of urgency due to expected rising demand after the recession have all fed the new oil rush that has triggered a glut of discoveries.
Warnings from peak oil theorists may have encouraged many countries and companies to redouble their efforts, which could lead to the tipping point on oil supplies being put back.
Exploration efforts have been made easier by strong oil prices which reached $147 per barrel in the summer of last year, and although they have dropped back to around $70, this is still high by historic standards.
Iran has announced a truly huge discovery of 8.8bn barrels in recent days, but many of the strikes have been in emerging new areas such as such as Uganda and western Greenland.
The Arctic is already being greedily eyed up by an oil industry that might have seen the credit crunch nearly wipe out its bankers, but has merely dented the coffers of high-rolling firms such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. But it is technological advances – as much as money – that have allowed these companies to survey prospects more accurately and drill in the deepest of waters at all sorts of extreme angles.
The British side of the North Sea was the original testing ground for many new techniques. Ironically the UK's continental shelf is one of the few to have really seen any new significant discoveries.

Another anti-pollution riot breaks out in China

Riots continue as China's pollution controls fail keep up with economic development as China's minister acknowledges that 'environmental quality is not satisfactory'
Jonathan Watts, Asia Environment Correspondent, Wednesday 2 September 2009 15.32 BST
China's pollution controls have failed to keep pace with economic development, the country's environment minister has admitted as details emerged of another riot sparked by fears of industrial contamination.
In at least the third clash in as many weeks, 2,000 riot police fired tear gas and warning shots during a violent confrontation with anti-pollution protesters near an industrial plant in Quanzhou, Fujian Province.
The demonstrators destroyed cars, threw stones at police and took an official hostage last weekend in an attempt to sabotage a tannery and chemical plant that they blamed for a foul stench and high rates of cancer. Tensions have risen as the smell has worsened, locals said.
According to the local government, the "rioters" badly beat four chemical factory employees, the chief of the nearby Chengping village and at least one policeman during sporadic fighting over the past week.
The authorities said the hostages have been freed and calm has been restored, but locals told the Guardian that at least 100 protestors were still blocking access to the plant.
"Don't believe what the government is saying," a resident named Zhang said by telephone.
Images posted anonymously online showed upturned cars and long ranks of police carrying shields and batons.
On a local government website, the odour problem is blamed on a broken pipe at the Quangang Urban Sewage Plant.
But residents said the facility, built about three years ago, discharged industrial waste that polluted the sea shore and threatened the health and incomes of local people.
"The stench is awful," said a man, who gave only the surname Liu. "Nobody wants to buy our fish. We can't earn money. The fishing boats have been abandoned on the shore."
Calls to government offices in Quanzhou rang unanswered today.
Earlier in the week, the state-run Straits Metropolitan News, blamed "unlawful elements" for the trouble, but it said only 200 protesters were involved.
The clash in Fujian follows recent disturbances in Shaanxi and Hunan provinces, which has led to the arrest of 15 people, say authorities. That unrest had been sparked by the lead poisoning of more than 2,000 children.
The government has acknowledged that it needs to do more to allay environmental health fears.
"Environmental quality is not satisfactory and environmental protection work is arduous," environmental protection minister Zhou Shengxian told the People's Daily.

Two-thirds of Britons admit to 'not doing enough' to protect environment

Almost two thirds of Britons admit they are not doing enough to protect the environment despite agreeing that climate change is a threat, according to a poll.

By Lucy CockcroftPublished: 7:00AM BST 02 Sep 2009
The survey found that 61 per cent of people said they could do more to help stop environmental damage, and 85 per cent believed climate change is, or will be, a threat.
Only 32 per cent said they already did enough to combat the process.
Most of those asked agreed that individuals should be expected to take action such as fitting low energy light bulbs (85 per cent) or turning down their heating (86 per cent).
Only 23 per cent said that climate change is not caused by man, with 71 per cent accepting human activity is the main cause.
However, just over half (52 per cent) said climate change would take place regardless of what individuals do, with 46 per cent believing they could make a difference.
The poll, carried out by The Guardian, was published to coincide with the launch of the 10:10 campaign, which aims to encourage individuals and organisations to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent during 2010.
Comparing results from 2005, the newspaper found that more people now think that we should drive and fly less, and buy more food from European sources.
But only a third backed a pay-per-mile tax for road usage, and 29 per cent said they would be willing to pay more for greener energy.
Support for wind farms has also risen by 10 per cent to 79 per cent, and resistance to nuclear power has decreased.
This year 32 per cent of those polled said they would accept a nuclear power station being built within 20 miles of their home, up from 19 per cent in 2005.
:: ICM interviewed 1,011 adults by telephone between 28 and 30 August 2009.

EU lightbulb ban violates simple economic principles

The European Union’s new ban on incandescent lightbulbs violates simple economic principles and imposes substantial hidden costs on the economy.

By Martin Hutchinson, Breakingviews.comPublished: 12:17PM BST 02 Sep 2009
Fluorescent bulbs don’t work as claimed and have considerable disposal problems. If the new bulbs were better, consumers would choose them naturally, and could be nudged to do so by a carbon tax.
The EU ban is an attempt to forward a policy goal – combating global warming – by statutory means. As such, it resembles the Corporate Average Fuel Economy restrictions, imposed on the US automobile industry by Congress in 1975.
Such legislation imposes substantial costs on both consumers and the economy, but hides them so that legislators avoid blame. It often has perverse consequences; in the case of CAFE standards consumers switched to sport-utility vehicles, less fuel-efficient than comparable saloons but outside the scope of the initial law. The long-term cost of those standards arguably included a significant contribution to the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.
Such policy goals can better be met by explicit taxes, which are not fully dead-weights on the economy, but fund government and substitute for other taxes. They also impose clear costs on oil consumption or carbon emission, allowing consumers to make their own purchase decisions with those costs taken into account.
The upfront cost of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, while higher than that of incandescent bulbs, is now low enough that if the claimed energy savings were real and inconveniences modest, rational consumers would switch.
However, CFLBs emit considerably less light than is claimed, and a substantial percentage burn out before their expected lifespan, somewhat offsetting the net cost saving from installing them. Moreover, consumers are heavily inconvenienced in their disposal, since they contain toxic mercury, which is illegal to discard in ordinary trash.
Had governments enforced truthfulness in the efficiency and lifespan claims of CFLBs, and provided convenient disposal mechanisms, many consumers would have switched voluntarily. Then the additional energy usage by the holdouts would have been modest and declining. Forcing consumers to switch imposes arbitrary costs, especially on those who for health or other reasons want to remain with incandescent bulbs. It also violates market principles of consumer freedom of choice.