China is to invest around 34 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion) to phase out persistent organic pollutants (POPs) within 10 years, a Chinese environmental official said on Wednesday.
"This is only a preliminary calculation and does not include the funds needed to treat the places contaminated by POPs," said Zhuang Guotai, deputy director of the office for the Stockholm Convention Implementation under the State Environmental Protection Administration.
He said that the funds needed to treat the polluted areas "could be huge" and difficult to estimate as there was still insufficient information about the levels of contamination and how serious it was.
China has drafted a plan to phase out the world's most toxic chemicals as required by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, he said.
According to the plan China will stop the production and use of chlordane, mirex and DDT used in anti-dirt paint by 2010 and be safely disposing of electric appliances containing POPs by 2015. China will also stop the production and use of POPs in pesticides by 5015.
The plan would be submitted to the State Council for approval in July, he said.
Under the Stockholm Convention, China will have to submit its national implementation plan to the convention's secretariat by November 11. China signed the Stockholm Convention in May 2001 and it came into effect in China in November 2004.
Funding to control POPs will come from the central government, local governments and domestic companies as well as international organizations and foreign governments.
The Italian government has pledged to provide US$7 million in assistance which is the biggest sum pledged by a foreign government so far.
The fifth meeting to discuss China's implementation of the Stockholm Convention was held on Wednesday with the attendance of more than 100 government officials and representatives from China, UN organizations and Italy, Germany, Norway, Japan and Finland.
"The Stockholm Convention can be successful only if it succeeds in China as the country is very influential in combating POPs," said Zoltan Csizer, a senior adviser with the UN Industrial Development Organization at the meeting.
Of all the pollutants released into the environment every year POPs are among the most dangerous. They are linked to cancer, allergies hypersensitivity and can damage the central and peripheral nervous systems which has the potential to lead to reproductive disorders and disruption of the immune system.
According to the United Nations Environment Program everyone in the world carries traces of POPs in their bodies. The POPs are stable compounds which can remain in the body for years or even decades before being broken down.
(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2006)