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February 6th, 2013:

Wage increase to push Hong Kong factories out of Pearl delta

Submitted by admin on Feb 6th 2013, 12:00am

Business›China Business


Anita Lam

Minimum salary in Guangdong is expected to rise 15pc, double the province’s GDP growth

Hong Kong manufacturers operating in the Pearl River Delta may speed up relocating their factories elsewhere as the minimum wage in Guangdong is expected to nearly double the province’s gross domestic product growth this year.

Stanley Lau Chin-ho, a vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, who discussed the issue with the province’s officials yesterday, said the wage increase would be higher than the nation’s average annual rise of 13 per cent.

The Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association expects a 15 per cent gain in minimum wages.

Guangdong’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said last week that it would announce its wage increase plans after the Lunar New Year.

A number of cities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Shanxi, plan to raise minimum wages by 11 to 17 per cent this year.

Shenzhen’s minimum wage is expected to rise the most in the country, averaging 20 per cent annually in the next three years. The local government has said the minimum salary must reach 2,650 yuan (HK$3,290) by 2015, up 76 per cent from last year.

Chong Shing-hum, the president of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association, said the minimum wage in Guangdong would amount to 1,495 yuan this year as there were no increases last year.

“It’s getting more difficult for us to survive in the [Pearl delta]. Appreciation of the yuan and receding prices in the US and Europe have already squeezed our profit margin. A lot of my friends are seeking to relocate their businesses,” Chong said.

The expected double-digit growth in the minimum wage would come even as the provincial government cut its economic growth forecast to 8 per cent this year from 8.5 per cent earlier. The central government has stipulated that the minimum wage should increase faster than a province’s GDP growth target for the year.

Despite rising wages, manufacturers in the delta are still expected to lose up to 1 million workers following the Lunar New Year holiday, according to Guangdong’s human resources ministry. But it said that would amount to just 6.25 per cent of the province’s total workforce.


Minimum Wage

Pearl River Delta

Hong Kong factories


Source URL (retrieved on Feb 21st 2013, 2:35pm):

In air pollution fight, China may start by tackling soot

Submitted by admin on Feb 6th 2013, 12:00am

Comment›Insight & Opinion

David Fullbrook

David Fullbrook urges action on black carbon, now seen as a major cause of global warming

The scale of air pollution in China is, well, breathtaking. It is not only the intensity, but the pace and scale of deterioration in air quality over the past decade. And the problem has global implications even though the immediate challenges are coughs and worse.

For thousands laid sick by the pollution, one of the causes is black carbon, or soot. Some particles are tiny enough – qualifying as PM2.5 – to enter the lungs. When not damaging lungs, black carbon is disrupting the climate. In a study published online by the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres last month, scientists concluded that black carbon is the leading cause of climate change after carbon dioxide.

Black carbon fuels global warming in two ways. One, black carbon heats up when exposed to sunlight. Two, like most dark substances, it absorbs rather than reflects light. When black carbon falls to the ground, usually after a few days, the Earth’s surface is left darker, reducing the reflectivity of the planet. Consequently, more solar energy is converted into heat.

The effect is pronounced where black carbon rains down on snow and ice. There, like tiny hot stones, black carbon concentrates heat which melts glaciers and ice caps.

The long-term climate consequences – higher temperatures, more extreme weather, and rising sea levels – for China and the world are another reason for the central government to implement and enforce a long-term strategy for cleaning up black carbon.

It is not technically challenging. In China, researchers from Peking University have found that two-thirds of black carbon comes from coke production, brick making, diesel fuel and household coal. Poor production methods and widespread use of coal make China the world’s No 1 source of black carbon. Much is a legacy of lax policing and soft standards.

Tightening up is going to cost money and hurt profits in the short term. It could, however, be incorporated into ongoing efforts to restructure the economy, shut down obsolete factories and industries, and push viable firms to cut pollution, develop eco-products and increase profits.

There is some prospect of a comprehensive response to air pollution, which might specifically tackle black carbon. Blanket press coverage suggests public outrage has the ear of the government.

The world should take Beijing as a lesson because climate change means more than sore throats. It is disrupting the planetary cycles and rhythms. If the lesson is not heeded and the Beijing precedent holds, then households and firms face the harsh economy of a carbon-busted planet.

David Fullbrook is a sustainability economist


Air Pollution


Global Warming

Source URL (retrieved on Feb 7th 2013, 9:22pm):

The Arctic Environmental Ministers today called for “urgent action” to reduce black carbon, HFCs, and methane, along with CO2, to help save the Arctic and prevent run-away feedbacks, including the loss of summer sea ice and the release of methane and CO2 from melting permafrost.

Download PDF : PR Arctic Ministers Meeting 6Feb13 Final

Air pollution linked to low birth weight, study finds

Submitted by eldes.tran on Feb 6th 2013, 3:02pm



Agence France-Presse in Washington

For pregnant women, breathing in air pollution from vehicles, heating and coal power plants increases the risk of having a low birth weight baby, an international study said on Wednesday.

The research, the most extensive of its kind on the link between air pollution and foetal development, found that the higher the pollution, the greater the rate of children born with a low weight. It was published in the US journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Scientists analysed data from more than three million births in nine nations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Most of the data was collected from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s, with some obtained earlier.

Low birth weight – below 2.5kg – is linked to serious health problems, including a higher risk of complications or death in the weeks right after birth, as well as chronic health problems later in life, said lead author Payam Dadvand of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona.

Co-lead investigator Tracey Woodruff said the pollution is ubiquitous.

“What’s significant is that these are air pollution levels to which practically everyone in the world is commonly exposed,” said Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

“These microscopic particles, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, are in the air that we all breathe.”

But she noted that nations with tighter air pollution restrictions have lower levels of the pollutants.

“In the United States, we have shown over the last several decades that the benefits to health and well-being from reducing air pollution are far greater than the costs,” Woodruff added. “This is a lesson that all nations can learn from.”

Under the Clean Air Act, the US limits primary particle pollution to an average of 12 micrograms per cubic metre of air a year for particles measuring less than 2.5 microns.

The limit stands at 25 micrograms per cubic metre in the European Union, and environmental protection agencies are weighing whether to lower that level.

In Beijing, the concentration of these particles was recently measured at more than 700 micrograms per cubic metre.

Thick smog choked the Chinese capital and vast swathes of northern China last month, blamed on emissions from coal-burning power stations and exhaust fumes from vehicles on choked streets.

“From the perspective of world health, levels like this are obviously completely unsustainable,” said study co-author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen of CREAL.

An epidemiological study of some of the children included in the data is investigating whether these pregnancy exposures can have an impact in their later years.


Air Pollution

low birth weight

Environmental Health Perspectives

Clean Air Act

Beijing air pollution

Source URL (retrieved on Feb 6th 2013, 7:30pm):