U.S., China To Partner for Better Global Environment

Washington - Marking a new era of global environmental cooperation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson departs April 7 on the first trip to China in seven years by an EPA administrator.

Johnson will meet with top Chinese environmental officials to discuss opportunities for increased cooperation and to observe progress on existing collaborative initiatives. He will visit the cities of Beijing, Lijiang and Shanghai, according to an April 7 EPA press release.

"Just as we live in a global economy, we also live in a global environment,'' Johnson said. "As major contributors to the global economy, the U.S. and China are vital to the health of the global environment.''

In Beijing, Johnson will meet with Minister Zhou Shengxian of China's State Environmental Protection Administration and Deputy Director Pei Chenghu of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau to highlight collaborative clean air efforts, particularly for the 2008 Olympics. (See related article.)

China has committed to hosting a “green” Olympics by working to improve Beijing air quality, using recyclable materials, and building sustainable structures that will have immediate commercial uses after the Olympics.

Johnson and Zhou will sign an agreement on hazardous-waste management that will encourage cooperation in finding and disposing of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. PCBs are mixtures of synthetic industrial chemicals whose manufacture and use have been restricted in the United States since 1976 because of their harm to the environment.

The EPA also will help develop programs in China similar to U.S. programs to clean up large areas of contaminated land, and turn them into commercially viable new developments.

In Lijiang, Yunnan province, Johnson will visit one of two EPA-funded pilot projects that use cleaner, safer home cooking and heating practices.

Almost half of the world's population burns fuels like firewood, coal and crop residues indoors for home cooking and heating. High levels of pollutants in this indoor smoke increase rates of disease and death.

In the Haixi Village outside of Lijiang, Johnson will tour village homes and observe traditional and improved cooking and heating technologies.

One pilot project by the Nature Conservancy China Program in Yunnan province will try to reduce fuel-wood use by 75 percent in the next 10 years, and use alternative energy to meet the rural communities' energy needs.

A second project in Guizhou province and implemented by the Institute for Environmental Health and Related Product Safety of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention will test a sustainable approach to improving health through affordable, reliable, clean, safe and efficient household energy use.

In Shanghai, whose population is 20 million, Johnson will attend several events that show China's commitment to cooperation with the United States in promoting cleaner air.

Johnson and Chinese officials will announce an air quality forecasting and public notification system in Shanghai to be modeled on an AIRNow system used in more than 300 U.S. cities to help protect public health.

On a tour of the Wai Gaiqiao coal-fired power plant, Johnson will observe installed advanced scrubber technologies that control sulfur dioxide emissions that lead to acid rain, smog and other pollution.

Johnson also will visit the port terminal in Wai Gaiqiao and meet with officials from the Shanghai Municipal Port Administration Bureau and the Port of Los Angeles as they begin the next phase of a partnership supported by EPA to reduce air pollution from port activities.

More information about the EPA's work with China and the text of the press release are available at the EPA Web site.