Heilongjiang province, on the edge of Siberia, is China’s rust belt.
Abandoned factories and container ports crumble away, testament to how other provinces have taken its old place as the centre of Chinese industry.
Battered nodding donkey oil pumps diligently bob up and down, scrounging what’s left of the riches beneath the earth.
But even here, one thing does not die out: China’s dependence on coal power.
Near Daqing, an industrial city, a new coal plant is rising from the ground to supply a chemical works nearby.
The builders are still hard at work in the dying light of a Friday evening.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged that China will reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and that it will be carbon neutral by 2060, winning plaudits abroad.
It is a lofty promise but, as the rest of the world is drawing away from coal, China is digging in.
The plant near Daqing is just one of 231 coal burning facilities under construction or preconstruction in China right now, according to Global Energy Monitor, a US-based NGO.
The same organisation says that, in the first half of 2020, China has approved more coal power capacity than in all of 2018 and 2019 combined.
And COVID-19 may be exacerbating the trend.
As part of its economic recovery, China plans to spend three times as much on carbon intensive energy and infrastructure projects as it does on green ones, according to an analysis of 4,358 projects by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Put simply, to live up to its 2060 commitment, China must ditch coal.
The country consumes about half the world’s total coal and nearly 60% of its power comes from coal.
And yet construction continues.
“We are concerned about all these new coal projects being authorised because this may lead into a locked in scenario, meaning that you build all of this new coal power and the asset’s there,” says Ma Jun, one of China’s leading independent environmentalists and director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, in Beijing.
“And it’s very hard to try and get rid of them.”
“So I think the whole situation is hanging in the balance. We’re at the crossroads.”
“That’s why it’s so important for President Xi [to make this pledge]. This message is not just for the outside world. It’s also sending a strong signal inside.”
Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, is under a flood warning when Sky News visits.
This summer, China was devastated by the worst floods in a decade. Hundreds died.
Li Huilan, a local woman searching on the river bank for small fish to feed her pet tortoise, tells Sky News that things are getting worse.
“In the last two years, the water didn’t reach the steps. Only this year and last year, the situation is like this.”
She thinks China will meet its pledge.
“As long as President Xi is working at it, he will fulfil it and succeed with his determination.”
Xi’s public declaration does add heft – for citizens and, more importantly, for Chinese industry and for local governments, which have sometimes dragged their feet for previously-set targets.
How much store should the world set by this pledge, though?
China has made other promises that foreign governments say have not been kept: that Hong Kong would stay free, that islands in the South China Sea would not be militarised, that there was no such thing as detention centres in Xinjiang.
The only way China can meet those critics is with deeds, not words.
County Cork: Three men from same family found dead after shooting | World News
Three men from the same family have been found dead in County Cork, Ireland, following a shooting.
The body of a man in his 20s was found in a bedroom of a property in Assolas, Kanturk, by Gardai officers.
Another body of a man in his 20s and a man in his 50s were later found on adjoining land in the northeast of the county.
Officers have confirmed that the three men were all from the same family and were found with gunshot wounds.
Gardai were called to the address at around 6.30am on Monday after a woman in her 60s alerted neighbours about gunfire at her home.
Police negotiators soon attempted to make contact with anyone inside the property.
Officers approached the house after 1pm and discovered the first body, the other two were found after an aerial search was conducted.
A full investigation has been launched, with the state pathologist and Garda Technical Bureau both expected to visit the scene.
A Garda spokesperson said no one else is being sought in connection with the incident.
An appeal has been made for witnesses or anyone with information to contact the investigating Gardai at Mallow Garda Station on 022 31450, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station
Moon: ‘Water traps’ on surface may be more common than previously thought, say researchers | Science & Tech News
Water could be more common on the moon than previously thought in what would provide “everything that NASA needs” for future lunar missions.
Natural supplies of water there would allow astronauts to hydrate themselves and help to provide fuel for other space projects.
Researchers have suggested that in some cases tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny coin.
This lunar phenomena, called cold traps, are shadowy regions of the moon’s surface that exist in a state of eternal darkness.
But the only way to prove their existence could be by astronauts exploring the surface or through robotic missions.
It is thought that many of the cold traps have gone without a single ray of sunlight for potentially billions of years.
Scientists believe there may be a lot more of these traps than previous data had suggested.
Paul Hayne, assistant professor in the laboratory of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, said: “If we’re right, water is going to be more accessible for drinking water, for rocket fuel, everything that NASA needs water for.
“If you can imagine standing on the surface of the moon near one of its poles, you would see shadows all over the place. Many of those tiny shadows could be full of ice.”
Drawing on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a robotic spacecraft which maps the moon’s surface, the researchers estimate the moon could harbour about 15,000 square miles (38,850 sq km) of permanent shadows in various shapes and sizes.
According to scientists, these might be reservoirs capable of preserving water via ice.
The team found that small-scale micro cold traps – some just 1cm (0.4in) wide – are hundreds to thousands of times more numerous than larger cold traps and can be found at both poles.
Scientists say the findings indicate water is produced or delivered on the moon by various processes, and is likely to be stored in the cold traps.
However, the researchers said the only way to prove these shadows actually hold pockets of ice would be to go there in person or with robotic diggers.
Prof Hayne said: “Astronauts may not need to go into these deep, dark shadows.
“They could walk around and find one that’s a metre wide and that might be just as likely to harbour ice.”
Emiliano Sala: Man in court over plane crash that killed footballer | UK News
A man who allegedly arranged the fatal flight taken by footballer Emiliano Sala has pleaded not guilty to endangering the safety of an aircraft.
David Henderson, 66, was charged after the flight crashed north of Guernsey in January last year, killing pilot David Ibbotson and passenger Sala.
The 28-year-old Argentinian striker had been travelling to the UK as part of a multimillion-pound transfer from FC Nantes in France to Cardiff City FC.
His body was recovered from the plane’s wreckage the following month, but the body of Mr Ibbotson, 59, has never been found.
Cardiff Crown Court heard Mr Ibbotson, who was contracted to fly the aircraft, did not have a commercial pilot’s licence at the time as it had expired in November 2018.
The court was also told bad weather was forecast for the fatal journey from Nantes to Cardiff, with the pilot allegedly not “competent to fly in such weather”.
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) previously found the aircraft had broken up mid-flight while being flown too fast for its design limits, and that the pilot had lost control while trying to avoid bad weather.
It also concluded Mr Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, likely caused by a failure in part of the exhaust’s tailpipe.
The pilot had no previous training to fly at night and he was paid for the flight, even though his licence did not permit it.
Henderson, from Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, appeared in court via video link to deny two offences under the Air Navigation Order brought by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The court heard he was charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft, as well as attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.
Defence lawyer Stephen Spence raised the issue of whether Cardiff was an “appropriate venue” for a fair trial, given Sala’s link with the football club.
Henderson’s trial date has been set for 18 October 2021 and he was granted unconditional bail until the trial begins.
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