SEPA to spend US$4.3bn up phasing out POPs – cleanup costs “could be very huge”

BEIJING, June 21 (Xinhua) — China will spend at least RMB34 billion (US$4.3 billion) to phase out persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in 10 years, a Chinese environmental official said June 21.
This figure accounts only for the phasing-out of the use of such pollutants, not their destruction.

“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 Stockholm Convention Implementation under the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

He said that the funds needed to treat the polluted areas “could be very huge” and difficult to estimate as there is still insufficient information about how many areas have been contaminated and how seriously they have been affected.

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 (RMB54.8 million) in aid, the biggest sum pledged by a foreign government so far.

China has drafted a plan to phase out the world’s most toxic chemicals as required by the Stockholm Convention on POPs, 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 safely dispose of electric appliances containing POPs by 2015.

By 2015, China will also stop the production and use of POPs in pesticides.

The plan will 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.

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, European countries, UN organizations and Italy, Germany, Norway, Japan and Finland.

China’s support for The Stockholm Convention is seen as vital to the success of the emissions reduction scheme. “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 of the UN Industrial Development Organization, at the meeting.

Of all the pollutants released into the environment every year by human activity, POPs are among the most dangerous. They are linked with cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, and damage the central and peripheral nervous systems, which also cause reproductive disorders and disruption of the immune system.

According to the UN Environment Program, every person in the world carries traces of POPs in his or her body. POPs are highly stable compounds that can last for years or decades before breaking down.


Blue Skies China notes that POPs can be destroyed in similar processes used by the HFC23 destruction technologies employed in China’s fast-growing clean development mechanism (CDM) market. China took two-thirds of the US$1 billion invested in CDM in 2005, the majority of this for HFC23 destruction projects at HFC22 production plants.

According to a 2004 Öko-Institut submission to the UN CDM executive, including POP destruction in a HFC23 scheme would bring far more environmental and economic benefit to such projects.

The potential for application of HFC23 technology in this way will depend on many factors including the related HFC22 price, conversion ratio of emissions credits gained from such projects into carbon certificates; international carbon price; and perhaps most importantly, on the geographic location of POP inventories, which SEPA says is presently unknown. If major POPs are to be cleaned up within economic trucking distance of existing or developing HFC23 projects in eastern China, new opportunities could exist for CDM developers to improve the profitability and efficiency of their projects.

About James Ockenden (300 Articles)
Writer, journalist and sustainability consultant with a passion for clean technology and public health. 25 years covering power and energy markets: former editor of Power Plant Technology, International Power Generation, Asian Electricity, Aircraft Economics, Energy Risk, Asia Risk, Benchmark; writer for South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon's Silkroad, APlus, Veolia's "Planet", Hong Kong Tatler; founder of Blue Skies China. MSocSc in Corporate Environmental Governance, University of Hong Kong; BA & MA degree in Natural Sciences (major in Materials Science & Metallurgy), Cambridge University.
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