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Newsletter (April)


  NEPA Promoted to SEPA

  At the 9th People's Congress, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) was accorded Ministry-status directly under the State Council. On 27 March 1998, the name of NEPA was formally changed to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), and Mr. Xie Zhenhua, the former Administrator of NEPA, was appointed as new Administrator of SEPA by Premier Zhu Rongji. The other three appointed deputy administrators were Mr. Song Ruixiang, former Minister of Geology and Mineral Resources, Mr. Zhu Guangyao, former Deputy Minister of Chemical Industry and Mr. Wang Xinfang, former Deputy Minister of Forestry. It is expected that further announcement will be made concerning enlarged responsibilities and internal structures for SEPA.


  The Working Group on Pollution Control 

  The Working Group on Pollution Control organized a Symposium, China's Strategies for CO2 : Emission Prediction and Reduction in Shanghai from January 6&endash;7, 1998. On January 9 - 13, it held a Zibo Task Force meeting in Zibo, Shandong. A Risk Assessment workshop was also organized by this Working Group in Qinghua University in February. A meeting of this Working Group will also be held in Washington, DC from April 12 to 24 together with a study trip to North Carolina.

  The Working Group on Energy Strategy and Technology

  The 11th meeting of the Working Group on Energy Strategy and Technology took place in Changchun City, Jilin Province from January 14-16. Attendees included eleven WG members, Dr. Roland from the Environmental Economics WG, Dr. Huang from the American Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Dr. Liu Shuying, Vice Governor of Jilin.

  Professor Zhou Fengqi briefed on China's present status and plan for renewable energy development. As Changchun was chosen by the WG to conduct a demonstration project on energy saving buildings, the Group discussed barriers and strategies for the promotion of energy-efficient buildings under a market economy. The WG invited American energy experts to discuss with Changchun City authorities a US$1.3 million energy-efficient residential building and a US$4 million energy-efficient commercial building that Changchun plans to build as a demonstration.

  The Group also discussed issues related to the large-scale wind power development in China. Professor Brennand and Professor Ni Weidou informed that UNDP had approved the WG's research proposal on this subject.

  Professor Thomas Johansson discussed progress in the fuel cell bus demonstration project that the WG had undertaken last November. Members expressed their views on issues related to the project including cost-benefit analysis in the feasibility study, R&D activities in demonstration projects, cost reduction for high-tech importation, foreign exchange rate change in technology importation, as well as technology renovation and low cost fuel cell technology.

  Other presentations included a petroleum forecast scenario in China in 2000-2020, new development in fuel cell technology, the progress in integrated resource planning and demand side management, the preparation for a fourth international IRP/DSM workshop, urban planning in China, utilization of natural gas imported from Russia and the Kyoto meeting on climate change.

  A Workshop on Small-Scale Biomass Electricity Generation was held before the Working Group meeting. The next working group meeting will be held in Beijing from June 25-27.

  The Working Group on Cleaner Production 

  On January 15&endash;17, the Working Group on Cleaner Production convened its second meeting and a symposium in Xiamen City, Fujian Province. "Cleaner production in China's township village industrial enterprises (TVIEs)" was the theme of the meeting and it was chaired by the WG's two co-chairs Professor Qian Yi and Katsuo Seiki. The meeting was attended by 16 Chinese and international members as well as other experts. Representatives for NEPA, Yan Shanqin and Zhang Lujiang also attended the meeting. Wu Zhilin, Head of Xiamen Environmental Protection Bureau, also participated in the meeting and commented on the achievements of Xiamen, which is considered to be one of the cleanest cities in the country.

  Experts also reported on the implementation of cleaner production in TVIEs in China. The Group discussed the WG report to be submitted to the Council, and decided that the report would consist of 1) the present status of TVIEs; 2) the implementation of cleaner production in TVIEs; 3) policy analysis regarding the implementation of cleaner production in China, and 4) policy recommendations for the promotion of cleaner production in TVIEs.

  At the January 15 symposium, eight Chinese and international experts made presentations on the development of cleaner production both in China and abroad, as well as the present status of TVIEs in China, and discussed the conditions for implementing cleaner production in TVIEs.

  The WG plans to have another symposium in August to further discuss cleaner production in China's TVIEs. It was proposed that a few demonstration projects be conducted in China's TVIEs and that international organizations be approached for support.

  The Working Group on Biodiversity 

  The Working Group on Biodiversity will hold its first meeting of 1998 in Haikou City, Hainan Province from March 16 to 31. The meeting will focus on assessing biodiversity conservation in Hainan, reviewing the work done by the WG in Phase I, and planning and implementing a work program in Phase II. A field study trip will be conducted and a sectoral meeting with Hainan authorities will be held during this period. Based on the field study trip, members will discuss with Hainan biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of biological resources, focusing on coastal and marine biodiversity protection, in situ and ex situ conservation, and sustainable use of biodiversity and trade.

  The Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture

  At its last meeting in September 1997, the Working Group on Sustainable Development decided that grassland management and grassland husbandry development would be the focus of its 1998 work. Based on this decision, the Working Group plans two major events for 1998. The first is an international workshop on Grassland Management and Husbandry Development in China to be held in Beijing from March 28 to 29. The themes of the workshop are 1) husbandry economy in China: trends, issues and priorities; 2) grassland management; and 3) grassland husbandry production and market. The second event is a field inspection trip to the South, particularly to Nanshan, Hunan Province and Hongchi, Chongqing. Members will discuss with related governmental officials issues related to grassland husbandry development and grassland management, as well as on the WG's annual report to the Council.

  The Working Group on Trade and Environment 

  The Working Group on Trade and Environment's fifth meeting will take place in Huangshan, Anhui Province from April 20&endash;24. The meeting will review the current projects undertaken by the WG, and review recent international developments in trade and environment including the Kyoto meeting on climate change, and the multilateral agreement on investment now being negotiated within the OECD countries. The Group will also discuss future program of the Working Group, the plan for the next meeting and its annual report to the Council. Projects currently undertaken by the WG include policy review of China's trade and environmental policies, China's perspective on international rules on foreign direct investment, impacts of selected foreign standards on China's trade, waste plastic trade, traditional medicine in China and the protection of endangered species, and issues related to clean technology transfer.


  At a national press conference on environmental protection, NEPA Administrator Xie Zhenhua announced environmental targets for 1998.

  Among the targets were the following:

  to strengthen pollution control in Huaihe, Haihe, and Liaohe rivers, and Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes

  to continue to implement the plan for total amount control of pollution emission and the Green Project Plan to ensure that all industrial sources of pollution bring their discharge of pollutants up to the national standards by the year 2000

  to introduce a better mechanism to monitor the results of pollution control in the Huaihe River Valley; municipal sewage treatment plants included in plans need to be built as early as possible, and the total amount of pollutants discharged into the river will be controlled so that the target to make the river clean by the year of 2000 can be met

  to ensure that the level of pollutants died into the Taihu Lake basin reach national standards by 1998, laying a sound basis for the realization of full control over the total amount of pollutants discharged in 1999; plans for pollution control in the Haihe and Liaohe river valleys will also be mapped out

  relevant ministries will be asked to cooperate in devising a plan to control the sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants

  Equal attention will be paid to the control of industrial pollution and ecological protection. Wherever conditions permit, the environment's quality will be made public by cities.

  Xie also noted that the main target for the year 2010 will be to monitor the ecological environment and improve environmental quality in urban and rural areas. Xie also hopes to establish a number of cities or regions where rapid economic growth occurs and a clean environment is maintained.

  By the year 2030, China's environmental quality should improve through the coordinated development of the economy and the environment.

  The Administrator emphasized that once state-owned enterprises reform, they won't be able to ignore their environmental responsibilities. Greater efforts will be made to ensure they control environmental pollution and avoid ecological destruction.


  After three years of hard work, the first phase targets set for pollution control in the Huaihe River Valley have been basically met. More work will need to be done to maintain the Huaihe success. This was the message from State Councilor Song Jian at the beginning of 1998.

  Song Jian pointed to pollution abatement by industrial firms as evidence of this success. Of 1562 industrial firms identified as discharging more than 100 tons of pollutants a day into the Huaihe River, 1139 met their first-phase targets. 215 firms had stopped production and were installing pollution treatment facilities. 18 firms were closed down, and 190 had either gone bankrupt or converted to other lines of production. Of the 1844 firms identified as discharging less than 100 tons of pollutants a day, 1504 had attained their targets.

  As a result of progress made by these industrial firms, pollution to the Huaihe River was reduced by over forty percent. Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) which would have been discharged into the river was cut by 700,000 tones. Most sections of the river have reached third class national ambient standards.

  But despite this overall improvement in water quality in the main river and some tributaries, some sections of the river are still seriously polluted. Much work still needs to be done to make the river completely clean. The Second and Third phase of Huaihe River abatement will continue to address this situation.

  In 1998, the Second phase of Huaihe River abatement, a number of municipal sewage treatment plants will be built. A shortage of money may, however, prove problematic. In order to overcome this difficulty, several governmental agencies have taken measures. The State Planning Commission has appropriated a loan of 500 million yuan for the work. The State Economic and Trade Commission and the Ministry of Finance will also allow for tax relief when importing 22 kinds of equipment for municipal sewage treatment. The Third phase of Huaihe River abatement will involve a campaign for vigorously advancing ecofarming, improving ecological environment and promoting sustainable development in the entire valley.

  The control of pollution in the Huaihe River Valley is a major part of the overall plan to control pollution in the nation's three major rivers and three major lakes.


  Hazardous wastes list announced 

  China announced a list of hazardous wastes in early March. The list was prepared by NEPA, the State Economic and Trade Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Ministry of Public Security. It will take effect on July 1, 1998. The list was drafted based on the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. It covers 47 types of waste. The list will provide a basis for registration and management of solid wastes and strict enforcement of China's pollution law regarding solid waste disposal. (China Daily, 03/04/98)

  Government approves lake cleaning program

  The State Council approved a plan for preventing and treating water pollution in Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province. The plan is to be carried out before the end of the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000). The plan requires that all the factories in the Taihu Lake area meet the national standards by the end of 1998; that all the water in Taihu Lake be clean by 2000; and that the soundness of the lake's ecological environment be guaranteed by the year 2010. (China Daily, 03/02/98)

  State Council approves acid rain and SO2 control zones 

  The State Council approved a Program for Acid Rain and Sulfur Dioxide Control Zones drafted by NEPA. The acid rain and sulfur dioxide control zones mapped out in the Program cover 11.4 percent of the nation's total territory. Sulfur dioxide emitted in these areas now accounts for approximately 60 percent of the nation's total. The targets set by the control zones are as follows: 1) by 2000, all industrial sources emitting sulfur dioxide must meet the national emission standard and realize the pre-set total amount control; sulfur dioxide concentration, in municipalities under the central government, capital cities of provinces, special economic zones and coastal open cities within control zones, must meet national ambient standards; and acid deterioration must be mitigated; and 2) by 2010, the total sulfur dioxide emission must be controlled at the 1990 level; sulfur dioxide levels in atmosphere in urban areas in the control zones must be up to the second class national quality standards; pH value in precipitation within the control areas must be less than 4.5. (China Economic Information, 02/25/98)

  China, Canada renew MOU 

  NEPA Administrator Xie Zhenhua and Canadian Minister of Environment Christine Stewart signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on environmental cooperation in January. The MOU focuses on areas of environmental protection such as clean production technology and the implementation of China's macro-ecological system project. Other areas of cooperation cover pollution control in the Haihe River valley, nature reserves and wildlife protection. The MOU recognizes the importance of such global problems as climate change, air pollution and ozone layer depletion. (China Daily, 01/17/98)

  Green vehicles race scheduled for July 

  NEPA, in cooperation with a number of State departments, is organizing an international competition for green vehicles in July. Unlike motorsport competitions that emphasize speed, this race is targeted to determine which automobile uses the least energy and which is the friendliest to the environment during the 3,200-kilometre journey from Zhuhai in Guangdong Province to Beijing. The rapid development of the automobile industry has boosted the social and economic prosperity of the country, but it has also caused serious air pollution. Vehicle emissions make up more than 60 percent of the air pollution in Chinese cities, and medical experts believe that about 30 percent of respiratory diseases in China result from air pollution. (China Daily, 01/16/98)

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