China targets polluters with dramatic three-year plan to improve air quality

A policeman wears a mask to cope with severe air pollution. (AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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China targets polluters with dramatic three-year plan to improve air quality

BEIJING: China will set more stringent targets for improving the nation’s air quality under a new three-year plan, as Beijing prepares to beef up a nationwide crackdown on polluters in its years-long campaign to clear its notoriously toxic skies.
The new targets for concentrations of small, breathable particles known as PM2.5 will be lower than those in the country’s current five-year plan that was due to end in 2020, environment minister Li Ganjie said at a briefing on the sidelines of the country’s annual Parliament on Saturday.
In January, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said it was drawing up plans for tougher curbs on smog during the next three years to 2020 after a five-year crackdown on pollution helped it attain air quality targets in December.
Li declined to give further details of the new goals as they are still being worked out.
By the end of 2017, the country had already cut PM2.5 concentrations by around 15.8 percent, not far from the target of reducing average levels for cities by 18 percent by 2020.
“So we will set a lower target for the new three-year plan,” he said.
The government will also set up a nationwide inspection system this year, which will give responsibility for regular checks on polluting companies and factories to local authorities, in addition to central government, he said.
The government will also punish local authorities who do not enforce the regulations correctly, he said. In some regions last year, regional governments issued blanket orders for companies to close even if they complied with tough emissions rules, he added.
The “one size fits all” strategy by some local authorities will not be tolerated, he said.
His comments come after the government announced this week the 10-year old MEP will be transformed into a more powerful Ministry of Ecological Environment, absorbing duties overseeing river, marine and soil pollution as well as climate change held by other ministries and departments.
It was announced as part of the biggest shake-up of government in years.
Li said the bigger ministry would help push environmental protection, which is a hot-button social and economic issue for the world’s No. 2 economy, but he did not give any other details.
The chief of the new ministry is expected to be announced next week.


Saudi Aramco boss reveals gas and LNG ambitions amid petchems push

Updated 22 January 2019
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Saudi Aramco boss reveals gas and LNG ambitions amid petchems push

  • Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser: We are in discussions in different countries with a lot of partners. We are reviewing these opportunities to make final decisions in terms of investment
  • Amin Nasser: A lot of it is in partnerships with leading companies around the world and it is either in gas investment, LNG investment or both

London: Saudi Aramco is eyeing gas and LNG acquisitions as it also prepares for the potential purchase of the Kingdom’s biggest chemical maker, CEO Amin Nasser revealed on Tuesday.

He made the disclosure in an interview with Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We are in discussions in different countries currently with a lot of partners. We are reviewing these opportunities to make final decisions in terms of investment,” Nasser said.

“A lot of it is in partnerships with leading companies around the world and it is either in gas investment, LNG investment or both.”

Aramco has also been in discussions with a credit rating agency ahead of a planned bond sale.

It comes ahead of the potential purchase of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the Kingdom’s biggest chemical maker and a key part of Aramco’s ambitions to grow its global petrochemicals business.

“We will decide soon how much we would like to take from the bond market. Definitely it is going to be an international bond. We are currently in discussion with regard to how much and where,” Nasser said.

He said that the purchase price for SABIC was still under discussion.

“We are in discussion currently with the Public Investment Fund about acquisition of 70 percent of the share of SABIC. We are in discussion with regard to the price at this stage,” he said.

Earlier this month Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Aramco would issue bonds in the second quarter of 2019.

Aramco’s planned acquisition of SABIC is expected to involve buying all or nearly all of the 70 percent stake in the chemicals company held by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Kingdom’s principal sovereign wealth fund.

Nasser said that there was no plan to acquire the 30 percent of the company that is currently publicly traded in Saudi Arabia.