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China, US to Sign Landmark Environment Pact

China and the United States will sign a landmark pact this month, charting the course of environmental and energy cooperation between two of the world's major economies for the next decade.

A senior environmental official involved in the negotiations said on Friday that the signing ceremony will take place during the fourth round of the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in Maryland on June 17-18.

"State-of-the-art ideas and technologies to clean the air and water will be major aspects in which China will benefit from environmental cooperation with the United States," said Li Xinmin, deputy director of the pollution control department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The US has agreed to offer technological solutions and management expertise to improve China's air and water quality over the next decade. China also agreed to expand market-oriented practices, such as emissions trading, in order to curb its water and air pollution.

Under the framework, China will soon establish a national cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions to deal with pollution from the nation's power industry, Li said.

China started pilot SO2 emissions trading projects in seven provinces and cities in 2002.

As a major aspect of the clean air cooperation plan, the emissions trading practices will be adopted by all power generators, the main source of China's SO2 emissions.

Sino-US cooperation will provide relevant procedures and training in setting up the trading platform, emissions monitoring and result evaluation.

The project is expected to yield substantial results by 2010, Li said.

Li added that China will also borrow from US experiences in setting up its own management mechanisms on the rehabilitation of major rivers, as well as measures to ensure the safety of drinking water.

Tackling water pollution is one of nation's biggest environmental tasks during the current 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-10).

A report recently published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection shows that the quality of more than 23.6 percent of the country's water runoff is worse than Grade V, or unfit for human consumption.

(China Daily June 7, 2008)

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