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Environmental cooperation urged
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The Yangtze River Delta area's governments are seeking more regional cooperation on environmental protection before the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, an environmental official said.

Environmental protection bureaus from Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, and Shanghai municipality, will develop mechanisms to share air pollution data by the year's end as a first step toward developing regional air pollution treatment standards, Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau director Zhang Quan told China Daily.

"It's necessary to set up a cooperation mechanism (in the delta) for combating air pollution not only because most localities in the region largely emit the same kinds of air pollutants but also because pollution from every city is likely to diffuse, traveling to neighboring cities," Zhang said yesterday on the sidelines of the second session of the 11th National People's Congress.

The numbers of vehicles, gas stations and chemical plants have rapidly increased in the region. Consequently, more new contaminants, like volatile organic compounds (VOC) and inhalable particles (IP), are causing chronic diseases.

"We will work together to develop standards and targets, while also working to reduce overall emissions, before the World Expo next year," Zhang said.

Zhang explained that removing administrative barriers was crucial to reaching a regional agreement on environmental protection.

Shanghai has also joined Jiangsu in treating Taihu Lake by participating in the environmental compensation mechanism - a cooperative agreement now enforced within Jiangsu that forces cities in the water system's upper reaches to pay neighbors for excessive pollution discharges.

"Jiangsu has been doing that since the second half of last year, and we can see it has yielded good results, significantly improving Taihu Lake's water quality," Zhang said.

"Now, Shanghai wants to join in sharing the responsibility and will hopefully contribute to the water quality's improvement."

But Chen Zhenlou, a professor from East China Normal University's school of resources and environmental science, said he hoped to see more progress in regional cooperation on environmental protection, because he believed the current scale was too limited.

Zhang said Shanghai is considering promoting environmental responsibility insurance among environmentally hazardous industries to further curb emissions and ensure pollution's damages could be addressed and compensated for in a timely fashion.

(China Daily March 13, 2009)

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