Governors seek bilateral efforts to safeguard environment

Updated: 2013-04-17 07:57

By Zhao Yinan in Tianjin (China Daily)

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Governors from China and the United States on Tuesday called for cooperation and experience-sharing on environmental protection.

Experts said such cooperation is highly complementary and has huge potential.

The second China-US Governors Forum, staged on Monday in Beijing and on Tuesday in Tianjin, saw officials from Tianjin, Hebei, Fujian and Guangxi eager to seek technology, experience and advice on environmental protection from their counterparts in the US.

Hebei Governor Zhang Qingwei said it is struggling to meet the requirement to reduce water use and coal burning this year.

"We are expected to cut water use by a third this year, as well as transfer to alternative energy from traditional coal burning. Both obligations contradict the fact that energy demand will soar in coming years in Hebei due to economic development, and we have to try to work out a solution," he said.

Hebei, which borders Beijing and Tianjin, stands as a natural defense against smog and sandstorms for the two municipalities. It also supplies more than 80 percent of drinking and industrial water for the two cities.

Zhang said the province is seeking cooperation with the US state of Wisconsin, known for its water conservation.

Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo said haze and water pollution are the two major challenges facing the city. His office is willing to seek cooperation on environmental protection with Wisconsin and Virginia.

Hebei and Tianjin have been frequently shrouded in smog consisting of airborne particulate pollutants since January.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said he sees great potential for Wisconsin to share its experience on the issues of water resources and air quality.

Xia Guang, director of the policy research center for the environment and economy under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said China is facing more pressure on water pollution, smog and greenhouse gases than many other countries.

"It is necessary to carry out a relatively strict industrial policy on the steel, cement and other high-polluting industries, encourage environmentally friendly industries, while learning from other places which have done a good job," he said.

(China Daily 04/17/2013 page14)