Friday roundup highlighting the environmental news and commentary of the week.

Smog and Mirrors? China’s steel capacity increased despite cuts [Washington Post] 

Last year China announced huge cuts to its over bloated steel industry, but it turns out steel operating capacity increased. How? Well, it turns out, China was faking it: most of the capacity cut was actually idle while new plants were opened and existing plants restarted, resulting in a net increase in operating steel capacity equivalent to twice the capacity of the UK. This is a huge blow to China’s war on pollution and particularly for Beijing: ¾ of the restarted steel plants are concentrated around the capital, meaning we could be seeing scenes like this for some time yet.

Further analysis by our senior coal campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta here.

Beijing bans high emissions vehicles in attempt to control smog [Reuters]

Gasoline-powered vehicles that fail China’s emissions standards will be banned from entering Beijing’s main districts in an attempt to wrestle down the city’s AQI index. Car fumes are a huge factor in Beijing’s smog and the 5.1 million vehicles that occupy Beijing’s streets contribute 31% of the city’s PM2.5 particles. Hopefully this will ease some of the air pollution, but the ban can do little to curb the air pollution that periodically drifts over from steel clusters in neighbouring Hebei Province.

Chinese farmer studies law for 16 years to fight chemical company [Mother Nature Network]

Wang Enlin’s extraordinary victory won the heart of the internet this week as his David and Goliath story went viral, first on the Chinese web, then internationally. The farmer from northeastern Heilongjiang Province left school after the third-grade, but that didn’t deter him from taking on a large state-owned chemical company that was dumping wastewater in his village. Instead he painstakingly studied from law textbooks in a local bookstore, copying them out by hand and paying the owner in sacks of corn. After a 16 year battle, a court has ruled in his favour- but the battle isn’t over. The Qihua Group is now appealing the decision.

China remains global wind energy leader [Clean Technica]

China’s renewables industry continued to grow explosively in 2016, despite slowing down a little from 2015’s record breaking rate of renewables installation. China was responsible for almost half all global wind energy installations  in 2016 as well as doubling its solar capacity to 77.42 GW. However, despite the huge advances in installation, China is still battling with a significant curtailment problem. Until it’s addressed it will be difficult for wind power fully realise its potential to make a serious dent in China’s carbon emissions.

China, India accounted for half of global air pollution deaths in 2015  [CBC]

More than half of global air pollution deaths occurred in China and India in 2015, a sobering new report revealed this week. The report also showed that while China is making progress on air pollution, India seems to be miles away from taking appropriate action, as ministers even deny the link between air pollution and mortality. It’s imperative that India takes action on its air pollution: the country is poised to overtake China for highest rate of air pollution deaths.

For more on India’s air pollution crisis, follow Greenpeace India on Facebook and Twitter.

Also in the news: EU and China can outflank Trump on climate change

                         Climate driven migration key topic for G20 summit, says Chinese expert

                           “The air we breathe”: Series on global air pollution by the Guardian