Friday roundup of environmental news and commentary of the week

China's coal capital is going green [Bloomberg]

Smoggy steel behemoth Taiyuan, known at one point as the only city with worse air quality than Beijing, is turning over a new leaf. Millions of RMB will be poured into greening the city, starting with replacing the city’s entire fleet of taxis with electric vehicles.

Firms reprimanded for breaking emission limits during heavy smog [Reuters]

Heating season hasn’t even begun and Beijing has already seen 3 yellow smog alerts in October alone. During this time, polluting industries in Beijing and surrounding Hebei are supposed to temporarily slow down or stop production to help ease the air pollution, but this didn’t happen this time round, according to China’s Ministry of Environment, which reprimanded several firms in Hebei and Shandong for exceeding emissions limits.

Regreening China will take more than trees [East Asia Forum]

China has big plans for planting new forests, but the mostly monoculture reforestation can’t  counteract the challenges of soil degradation and desertification, or restore ecosystems to their full potential.

New emissions limits on Hebei’s steel mills [Reuters]

China is getting tough on China’s steel producers with new measures that will significantly limit sulphur dioxide and other pollutants. This could have a big impact: Hebei produces a quarter of all China’s steel.

Student activists push back against water pollution in rural Sichuan [New Security Beat]

An inspiring story of community activism in rural Sichuan. After noticing the huge volume of garbage that was clogging up the town’s waterways, local environmental groups teamed up with residents of Piankou in western Sichuan to clean it up. Elementary school students tested the water quality and after deeming it unsafe for human contact, rallied the community into cleaning it up.