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Environmentalist Feels at Home in China

As an environmentalist, to think and act for the future has been Daniel J. Dudek's whole life.

During the last five years, the American environmentalist's feelings about protecting the environment in the future has intensified after he and his wife adopted two Chinese girls.


"As a father, you shoulder tremendous responsibility for your children's future and that's the same with environment protection," said Dudek, chief economist of the United States Environmental Defence (EDf) group, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that has championed successful SO2 emissions trading programs around the world.


Dudek is leading a task force to apply the laws of economics to curbing acid rain in China.


"He has a good reason to feel proud of success both in his family life and his career," said Zhang Jianyu, manager of EDf's China program office.


Now Dudek is developing SO2 emissions trading in China in partnership with the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).


As an expert in the reduction and control of atmospheric pollutants, Dudek led the team credited by US President George W. Bush with breaking the logjam on acid rain. He has tried to develop markets for environmental commodities to manage local and global pollution from both stationary and mobile sources.


Also as a leading proponent of market development activities in the United States, Dudek started to pay attention to China's environmental protection in the mid-1980s.


"China is a country that has a tremendous impact on every aspect of the world's environment and global economy. Fusing China's sustainable development and environmental protection is the most critical priority for our future," Dudek said.


He was deeply impressed by China's natural beauty and culture during his first trip to China in 1990.


Since 1996, the dedicated environmentalist has spent at least two or three months in China every year. He believes that China is the most dynamic and exciting place in the world to work.


Working in China


In China, a team of environmental officials and researchers including Dudek are working hard to help industrial units tackle China's air pollution.


"We hope to promote awareness of the emerging market opportunities created by emissions trading," said Dudek.


The practice of emission trading is based on existing caps known as Total Emission Control that limit the amount of pollution produced by industrial sources, such as power plants and factories. When emissions fall below the permitted levels, the factory is allowed to store the excess quota for future use or to trade with other industrial units which cannot meet the pollution standards set by environmental protection authorities.


The end result provides the buyer with an increased emission quota, a must for its future expansion, while the seller is rewarded for its contribution to environmental protection, he said.


With major input from the environmentalist, the Title IV of the 1990 clean Air Act Amendments, passed by US Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 1990, established the first large-scale, long-term US environmental program to rely on tradable emission permits to control emission.


The program covers power plants within all 50 states of the United States except Hawaii and Alaska.


Billions of dollars are saved through this innovative approach to achieve the result that could not have been possible otherwise.


In less than a decade, emissions trading has gone from being a pariah among policy-makers to being a everybody's favorite way to deal with pollution problems.


Li Lei, a SEPA official in charge of pollution control said the practice of emission trading does not signal a green light to the generation of pollution. Rather it encourages further reductions.


Buyers and sellers are allowed to trade only within the State pollution control limits, a move that does not damage the local environment, Li said.


The pilot program between SEPA and Dudek's organization has been implemented with great success in Shanghai, east China's Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, north China's Shanxi Province and Tianjin, central China's Henan Province and Liuzhou in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


China's first agreement on sulphur dioxide emission trading was reached by two power plants in different cities and came into effect last July.


Both plants, the Taicang Port Huanbao Power Co Ltd, the buyer, and the Nanjing Xiaguan Power Plant, the seller, are in Jiangsu Province. Jiangsu established the first provincial rules for SO2 emissions trading last October.


The Taicang plant requires additional sulphur dioxide emission quotas, as it plans to generate more electricity to meet local demands. The expansion plan will generate another 2,000 tons of sulphur dioxide a year, which is far beyond the original emission quota the company is permitted.


The Nanjing facility, however, saves an emission quota of 3,000 tons per year, due to the use of state-of-the-art flue gas desulphurization technology introduced from Finland.


"Jiangsu is a province that my family will always remember," said Dudek.


First, support from the local and provincial authorities has allowed the emissions trading program there to enjoy smooth progress.


"More importantly, the city of Changzhou, where my daughters originally lived, and the Chinese Government have given my wife and I the gift of being parents to two wonderful girls," said Dudek. "They have dramatically changed my life."


Happy family


Surely, no other thing can make Dudek feel happier than his family life.


After their first trip to China together in 1998, Dudek and wife Gail Anderson adopted two Chinese girls, now 5-year-old Ella Marie and one-and-a-half-year-old Laura Ling.


"For me, the most difficult thing about traveling to China is being away from the girls and my wife. However, I am always so busy and the work is so productive and satisfying that the time seems to fly by quickly," he said.


"At the same time, I feel very confident about the well-being of our Chinese daughters, since Gail is a great mother."


Anderson, living with their daughters in a small town in New York State, added: "Daniel is working for the health of our planet, which I also believe is crucial for our daughters' future."


Dudek's interest in China can be traced back to his youth when he was a soldier stationed at a US army base in the Republic of Korea (ROK).


"That was my first real contact with Asia," Dudek said, recalling his three years of military service there, starting in 1967 when he was 20 years old.


His life in the ROK provided the perfect opportunity to begin a personal comparative study of American and Asian culture and traditions.


The most impressive finding was that Koreans had a very strong interest in recycling materials, while American people would normally throw away many items as rubbish.


The experience in the ROK changed Daniel Dudek's professional life and way of thinking dramatically. He has now immersed himself in Chinese traditional culture, and is very interested in the ancient thinking of forming a harmonious relationship between nature and human beings.


Dudek started his research as an agricultural economist in the Natural Resource Economics Division of the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture from 1975 to 1982. He worked on water quality problems associated with irrigated agriculture in the western United States. He learned the importance of laws and regulations in determining environmental outcomes.


Generally in the irrigated West, there are no markets to give farmers incentives to be more efficient and save water. Consequently, too much water is used and too much water pollution results, according to Dudek.


In 1982, he moved to campus life as an assistant professor of resource economics, in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he began his studies on acid rain.


Four years later, Dudek joined EDf, which has linked science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society's most urgent environmental problems since 1967.


"Our distinctive approach to environmental protection emphasizes science, economics and the use of market mechanisms appropriate to reach well-crafted, durable solutions to today's environmental problems," Dudek said.


He was successful in using this approach both in the US and other countries around the world.


He was involved in the creation of tradable production entitlements for chlorofluorocarbons for compliance with the Montreal Protocol. He also developed a US EPA-approved mobile-stationary source trading program in partnership with General Motors.


He brokered the first interpollutant trade which involved sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, developed the first emission trade in Poland, facilitated the first international GHG trade involving options, and partnered with BP to develop their internal GHG trading system.


Meanwhile, he is an adviser for various national and international organizations including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, China's State Environmental Protection Administration and most recently Tsinghua University's Clean Energy Research and Education Center.


(China Daily October 31, 2003)

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