If I want to keep an eye on the energy transition in Britain, I know where to go. There are myriad news portals in English, often with useful global perspectives. There’s a vast ecosystem of environmental NGOs, conservation agencies, research institutes and industry bodies I can call upon. But I’m aware that much of the future depends on what happens in China, and that’s harder to follow.
There are a couple of big reasons for that. One is that China hasn’t had a culture of non-governmental organisations, and obviously their approaches are different in a one-party state. But the numbers of NGOs has been growing over the last quarter of a century, and the government has opened up to the idea of civil society. New laws in 2017 have relaxed the restrictions on NGOs and there’s a new chapter beginning.
However, while there are no doubt stories worth hearing, I don’t know where to find them. There’s a whole Chinese internet that is virtually unknown to English readers. Obviously this is my problem, and I ought to get down to Bedfordshire University and learn Mandarin. But in the meantime, it would be really helpful to have some translations.
So can we make a list of useful sites? Have you found any good sources of news out of China, on all things environmental? If you’ve worked in China and know some organisations we should look out for, let me know and let’s see if we can start a list.
China Energy Portal – hosts energy news and statistics from China, translated by volunteers. It’s not updated very often, but it covers major developments in China’s energy transition and looks like one to bookmark.
Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs – founded in 2006, this Beijing based non-profit collects and presents environmental information from local authorities and businesses. The website hosts live maps showing water and air pollution, and it’s been pioneering green finance and ethical investing in China.
Ministry of Ecology and Environment – okay, clearly the opposite of an NGO, but this government department was newly created in 2018 and has a website in English. It has news updates, translations of papers and policies, and lots of pictures of people in meetings. Regularly updated and potentially very useful.
Friends of Nature – China’s first registered environmental NGO, apparently, founded in 1994. It has a membership of some 30,000 and focuses on environmental education, green living and nature connection. Like ACEF above, it has also been working on legal advocacy. Website has an English translation, but not all news is available.
All-China Environment Federation – serves as a bridge between the government and the public on environmental issues. After changes in the law made in possible recently, it has begun bringing lawsuits against polluters and won the first such case in China in 2016. Website in English is rarely updated.