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Newsletter (July)



  The State Council of the Chinese government has recently made a decision on the China Council chairmanship. The new chairman is Mr. Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier of the State Council. The four Vice-Chairs are: Professor Qu Geping, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Protection Committee under the National People's Congress; Mr. Liu Jiang, Vice Chairman of the State Development Planning Commission; Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Administrator of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA); and Dr. Huguette Labelle, President of Canadian International Development Agency.

  Mr. Zhang Kunmin, former Deputy Administrator of the National Environmental Protection Agency (predecessor of SEPA), and currently advisor to the Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, is appointed Secretary General for the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development by Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao.


  The Working Group on Biodiversity

  The Working Group on Biodiversity organized a Hainan Biodiversity Workshop in Haikou, Hainan from March 26 to 31, 1998. More than seventy participants attended the meeting, including members of the Working Group; experts and representatives from national and local authorities on forestry, environmental protection, fishery and marine administration; international organizations such as IUCN, Wetland-International, WWF-Hong Kong; and central and local news agencies.

  After a three-day field trip around the Hainan Island, representatives from various sides discussed policies, plans and issues regarding conservation and sustainable uses of natural resources in Hainan. Participants were greatly impressed by various policies and plans adopted by the local government and its conservation efforts, particularly the innovative joint ventures of the private sector and some international agencies which develop the region in harmony with its natural environment. Participants did note, however, the gap between policy and practice.

  Based on discussions at the meeting, thirty concrete recommendations were put forward to the Government of Hainan regarding conservation of coastal resources, fisheries, forests, tourism and urban development. These include a total ban on hunting, trade in wildlife and logging in native forests, a ban on cutting mangroves, and strengthening the protection of coral reefs.

  The Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture 

  The International Workshop on Grasslands Management and Livestock Production in China, organized by the Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture, took place in Beijing from April 28 to 29, 1998. The Workshop was attended by forty-six participants including WGSA's members; representatives from UNDP, FAO and EU; officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Embassy in China; and officials and experts from the State Environmental Protection Administration; Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and universities. Among them were Vice-Minister of Agriculture Lu Ming, Director of CCICED/Canadian Secretariat Professor Earl Drake, and Deputy Secretary General of CCICED Peng Jinxin.

  Professor Sun Honglie and Dr. Bernie Sonntag chaired the workshop. Topics discussed at the meeting were: China's agriculture in the next decades; livestock economy in China; grassland management; and production and market of grassland livestock.

  In reviewing China's agriculture, experts noted the following: China needs to overcome the difficulties of decreasing arable land and water resources as well as the deterioration of the environment and resources; China must improve the market economy for agriculture; China should rely more on science, education, and sustainable development strategies; and the relationship between industry and agriculture in China must harmonize.

  Participants believe the potential for grassland and livestock production in China is great, and the development of grassland livestock production will reduce the heavy pressure on arable lands and increase food security and living standards for the population in China. Low financial and technical inputs, poor management and farmer's weak educational base have been the major constraints for the development of grassland livestock production. Issues related to sustainable development of the livestock industry in China and measures for sustainable development of livestock production were discussed.

  Grassland management was a key topic at the workshop. Grassland management is essential to the improvement of grassland productivity. Rational policy frameworks and efficient management are key to grassland utilization and protection.

  The market issue of grassland livestock products at home and abroad and international cooperation in this area were also discussed at the workshop. Experts believe that sustainable grassland management will help create favorable conditions for the government to formulate a better trade regime and that will pave the way for healthy bilateral trade relations with foreign trade partners.

  Regarding WG's future research areas, Dr. Bernie Sonntag identified the grasslands in North China, Southern China, Loess Plateau and Xinjing, North China Plain, red soil areas in Southern China and the delta areas of the Yangtze River as the proper target research areas. The Working Group's future plan also includes analysis of land assets, opportunities of livestock development, integration of international information, analysis of agricultural systems, service of technology transfer and analysis of water resources assets.

  The Working Group on Trade and Environment 

  The Working Group on Trade and Environment held its fifth meeting in Huangshan City, Anhui Province from April 20 to 24, 1998. About 30 participants attended the meeting, including five Chinese members and all six international members.

  Three projects currently undertaken by the Working Group were reviewed. The first was a preliminary report on trade and environmental issues in China's textile industry, which is one of three case studies being studied in a broader policy review of the interaction between China's trade and environmental policies. The second was a study on China's perspective on international investment rules and sustainable development, and the third was a case study on the impacts of environmental standards of EU on China's trade in textiles.

  Members also reviewed two joint Dutch and Chinese projects in which some members of the Working Group had been involved. One is the plastic cycle in China with a special emphasis on international trade and recycling, and the other is traditional medicine in China and the protection of endangered species, which is jointly undertaken with the Working Group on Biodiversity. In addition, the Chinese market for environmentally sound technology and China's WTO accession negotiation and its participation in APEC were discussed at the meeting.

  Several presentations were made by international members including major international events related to trade and environment, climate change problems and the Kyoto Protocol, OECD Multilateral Agreement on Investment, NAFTA and the Free Trade Agreement of Americas.

  The meeting endorsed a research proposal on international trade in clean coal technology, and decided to continue to seek funds for training workshops on trade and environment. Emission trading and clean development mechanism related to climate change were also briefly discussed. Several research projects proposed for the future include APEC trade liberalization and environment, a demonstration project in Beijing economic and technology zone, trade in environmental services and emission trading.

  The next meeting of the working group is scheduled for September 1998.

  The Working Group on Transportation and Environment 

  The selection of the first batch of international experts for the Working Group on Transportation and Environment has been completed. The WG will be chaired by Professor Paul Baron, and joined by Professor Braendli of the Swiss Technical University, Zurich and Dr. Petersen of the Wuppertal Institute of Climate, Environment and Energy. Professor Braendli is an internationally renowned expert on public transport. Dr. Petersen is head of the transport division of the Wuppertal Institute in Germany, and has participated in many projects throughout the world. The first meeting of the Working Group will be held in Beijing from July 13 to 16, 1998. Professor Baron and Dr. Petersen will visit Hong Kong and Shanghai to meet with local officials responsible for urban planning and regional/urban transport.

  The Working Group on Energy Strategies and Technologies

  The Working Group on Energy Strategies and Technologies held its 12th meeting in Beijing on June 25-27, 1998.

  Before the meeting, a workshop on Mechanisms of Resource Allocation for Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector took place on June 23-24. Two Chinese experts, Professor Mao Yu-shi and Professor Ding Ningning of the Development and Research Center, State Council, and three international experts, Professor Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University, Trent Berry of Compass Resource Management, and Hao Liu of Monenco AGRA addressed 39 participants from 7 institutions and 5 provinces in China.

  The subjects addressed included the principles and methods of social costing in energy planning, and the relevant market instruments available. In a plenary discussion, progress was achieved in raising awareness of the relevance of China's institutional and market structure in the energy sector to achieving China's major goal in social, economic and environmental terms, and also to exposing potential pathways to achieving specific environmental objectives through market-based instruments.

  A number of recommendations arose from the two-day workshop. These formed important input in the Working Group's formulation of recommendations to CCICED.


  Under China's Program for Acid Rain and Sulfur Dioxide Control Zones, 11.4 % of China has been designated as control zone for acid rain and sulfur dioxide. This area currently accounts for sixty percent of the nation's total sulfur dioxide emission.

  A large part of Beijing has been included in the zone. According to a report by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the burning of coal with a high sulfur content is the major cause of sulfur dioxide pollution in Beijing, where coal accounts for over 70% of its fuel supply.

  In an attempt to reduce coal consumption in the past 10 years, Beijing's residents have been increasing their use of gas for cooking. By 1996, 92.7 % of the city's residents were using gas for this purpose. But despite this, pollution resulting from the burning of coal with a high sulfuric content did not decrease.

  The city is now turning to natural gas from Shaansi and Gansu provinces and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Boilers in the central urban areas of Beijing will be required to use natural gas as their main fuel, and will also need to obtain emission certificates before starting operation. By 2000, the natural gas supply should reach 3 billion cubic metres in Beijing. For every 100 million cubic metres of natural gas used, 240,000 tons of coal is replaced. This reduction in coal consumption will reduce sulfur dioxide emission by 3,857 tons.

  Another measure to cut air pollution is to encourage the use of coal containing less sulfur, and ban or restrict the burning of coal containing a high sulfur content.

  The city's environmental protection bureau is also carrying out an assessment of current desulfurization facilities and technology and selecting a suitable technology for Beijing. In addition, the city is promoting energy conservation technology to cut coal-burning pollution. (Source: China Daily 18/02/98)


  A white paper entitled The Development of China's Marine Programmes was released by China's State Council Information Office on May 28. The white paper, the first of its kind on the issue, elaborates in details six main issues. They are sustainable marine development strategy; rational development and utilization of marine resources; the protection and preservation of the marine environment; the development of oceanographic science, technology and education; the implementation of comprehensive marine management and international cooperation in maritime affairs.

  Although China has officially attached great importance to marine development and protection, the practice of marine environment protection in China is still unsatisfactory, according to a recent article in People's Daily. Human activities are the major cause of damage to the marine ecological system. Land-source pollution has harmed the country's estuaries, bays and offshore areas.

  The number of pollution incidents and oceanic disasters are now more frequent than ever before. Oil spills, illegal dumping, contagious shellfish diseases and red tide severely affect the marine environment, and pose threats to public health. Statistics indicate that from 1980 to 1997, red tide occurred 380 times throughout China's marine areas, resulting in serious losses for the country's fishing industry.

  Random land reclamation, unscientific dam and floodgate construction, large-scale sand dredging and coral reef excavation led to erosion and sedimentation along the seashore. This also resulted in reduced biodiversity, which further amplified the harmful effects.

  To effectively control land-based pollution, strict law enforcement as well as concerted efforts by marine and land environmental protection administrations is required, according to a quote in the People's Daily by Qu Geping, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Protection Committee under the National People's Congress.

  China recently issued China Ocean Agenda 21, which puts forward a sustainable development strategy for China's Marine Programmes.

  After 15 years of implementing the Marine Environmental Protection Law, the Environment and Natural Resources Protection Committee have dispatched inspection teams to investigate the implementation of the Law, starting in Hainan, Shandong and Liaoning provinces.

  Meanwhile, a four-month campaign began on June 6 aiming to stop malpractice in marine exploration and improve the supervision of marine environmental protection. It is an effort in support of the International Year of the Ocean designated by the United Nations. The drive will emphasize increasing public awareness of marine laws in eleven coastal provinces and one autonomous region while highlighting the significance of developing the oceanic industry.

  A special delegation composed of journalists from China's twenty-six major media agencies will also be covering issues concerning sea pollution and how better to utilize marine resources.

  China has abundant marine resources, with an 18,000 km coastline, more than 6,500 islands and 3 million square kilometres of oceanic area. The coastal provinces make up thirteen percent of the country's total area and contribute sixty percent to China's gross domestic product. Protecting the marine environment is clearly vital to China's development. (Source: People's Daily 05/29/98 and China Daily 08/06/98)


  China Signs Kyoto Protocol 

  China signed the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in late May, becoming the 37th country to sign the Protocol. The Protocol provides legally binding targets for developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

  The Protocol must be ratified by 55 countries representing 55 percent of the 1990 global carbon dioxide emissions. So far, no country has ratified the Protocol. (Source: Weathervane 09/06/98 at

  Beijing Tightens Vehicle Emission 

  Starting April 1, Beijing orders the owners of motor vehicles that exceed State limits in discharging exhaust to have catalytic converters installed.

  During the past 10 years, annual checks found that a high percentage of vehicles in Beijing met State's standards in exhaust emission. However, in random spot checks, it was discovered that only 40 to 50 percent met those same standards. The lower fulfillment is attributed to various factors, including the drivers' failure to maintain their vehicles regularly in accordance with regulations.

  Daily spot checks will be carried out by the city's public security and environmental protection bureaus, in an attempt to make drivers more aware of the importance of proper vehicle maintenance. (Source: China Daily 31/03/98)

  More Cities Practice Air Quality Reporting 

  According to the State Environmental Protection Administration, there are now 37 cities issuing weekly air quality reports. In addition, Dalian, Xiamen, Nanjing and Shanghai have started daily air quality reporting. Such reports hope to promote environmental awareness and provide opportunities for the public to screen government efforts in protecting the environment. (Source: People's Daily 05/05/98)

  Guidebook Promotes Citizens' Action 

  The State Environmental Protection Administration and the Beijing Global Village Environmental Culture Centre jointly released the first in a series of environmental books, entitled The Citizen's Environmental Guide.

  This is the first book ever published in China that aims to educate citizens in support of the environment.

  The Citizen's Environmental Guide is specially designed for children, but subsequent books in this series will target different groups of readers such as drivers, tourists, teachers and farmers. (Source: China Daily 27/05/98)

  Film Festival to Mark World Environment Day 

  To commemorate World Environmental Day on June 5, a film festival highlighting nature and wildlife was held at the China Film Archives in Beijing from June 5-8. The '98 Wildscreen China Festival was jointly hosted by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). The festival featured 10 award-winning documentaries that explore the farthest reaches of the natural world.

  During the festival, SEPA, WWF and the China Television Documentary Academic Association held a two-day international symposium to discuss the development of nature and wildlife film production in China. (Source: China Daily)

  Awards Given to Outstanding Women 

  One hundred Chinese women were given awards on June 4 in Beijing for their outstanding efforts in protecting the environment.

  The All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) also launched a special campaign entitled Women, Home, Environment. This campaign was aimed at enhancing Chinese women's environmental awareness.

  Ten organizations across the country were also given prizes on the same day for their roles in helping carry out environmental awareness activities. (Source: China Daily 05/06/98)

  Four More Reserves Join WBRN 

  Four more Chinese nature reserves have joined the World Biosphere Reserve Network under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. These four reserves are Maolan Reserve in Guizhou Province, Fengling in Heilongjing, Tianmushan in Zhejiang, and Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan.

  Fourteen Chinese reserves have joined the network since China became a formal member of MAB twenty years ago. (Source: China Daily 27/05/98)


  China will develop its environmental protection industry in the coming 15 years to meet the demand for advanced pollution control techniques and facilities, according to the China Association of Environment Protection Industry (CAEPI). The country will open the sector more widely to foreign investment and co-operation to help upgrade pollution control techniques.

  There are at present about 10,000 institutes researching and manufacturing environmental protection technologies and facilities in China, including 100 joint ventures. About eighty percent of these institutes are township or private operations, covering solid waste disposal, noise, water and air pollution control, and the manufacture of environmental quality monitoring instruments.

  With an annual output value of 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion), production in the environmental protection industry has met domestic need and has even allowed for exports to Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe. However, while some of these products do meet international standards, Chinese environmental protection facilities still lag behind those of developed countries. More advanced technology in this industry is needed.

  CAEPI, which is under the direct leadership of the State Environmental Protection Administration, will continue to play an important role in introducing more advanced technology. It will organize the 6th China International Environmental Protection Exhibition and Conference (CIEPEC '99) in June next year.

  CIEPEC, which is held every two years, exhibits the world's latest environmental technology and holds a series of seminars on various environmental topics. Policymakers, environmental experts and representatives of companies throughout the world are expected to attend the five-day event at Beijing Exhibition Hall to exchange views on technology and policy and explore ways to cooperate and establish joint ventures. (Source: China Daily 25/05/96)

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