China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blowing in the wind: Pollution in Beijing

Face-saving begins as Chinese official says it's fog not smog

Last Updated: Monday, July 28, 2008 | 6:55 PM ET Comments1Recommend6

A Chinese policeman stands guard on the Tiananmen Square on July 28, 2008 in Beijing, China. A Chinese policeman stands guard on the Tiananmen Square on July 28, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

When Canadian athletes follow flag-bearer Adam van Koeverden into the Bird’s Nest in Beijing on Aug. 8, the Canadian athletics team will not be part of the crowd. The team will be preparing in Singapore in an effort to avoid the crowds, and disturbingly, the cloud of smog that envelopes Beijing.

The citizens awoke on Monday morning to a cloud of smog, despite the recent introduction of draconian pollution-control plans. But with a little more than one week before they play host to the world, organizers are planning last-minute emergency measures.

According to the China Daily, all construction sites and a larger number of factories could be temporarily shut down, and increased traffic restrictions could be introduced.

"The air quality in August will be good," Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, told reporters on Sunday.

Haze blamed on fog

He blamed the haze on fog and light winds that failed to clear the pollution. "Our job is to decrease the pollution as much as possible, but sometimes it is very common to have fog in Beijing at this time."

On July 20, the city launched a plan to have cars with even and odd license plates run on opposite days. The city has also tightened emission standards, closed factories and built new public transportation systems.

More than 250 high-emitting companies north of the city were ordered shut down earlier this month.

Despite some progress, Sunday was one of the smoggiest days the city has seen in the past month, and visibility was less than a kilometre.

The same conditions during the Games could lead to the postponement of endurance events such as the marathon and triathlon due to poor air quality during the Games, as IOC president Jacques Rogge has threatened.

The problem of wind

Regardless of measures, organizers are still victims to the wind. Strong enough wind can blow pollution from thousands of kilometres away, but a lack of it will cause a build-up of smog in the air.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California in San Diego, is leading a team of scientists studying the impact of emission reduction measures in the city.

"There's only so much you can do with local emission reduction," he says. "You're basically at the mercy of the winds."

Experts say that while emergency measures may reduce the smog, there is no guarantee of clear air.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beijing shrouded in smog two weeks before China's Olympic Games

China is considering even more stringent measures to control pollution as Beijing continues to be shrouded in smog less than two weeks before the Olympics.
A paramilitary policeman marches past the National Stadium known as the
The National Stadium know as the 'Bird's Nest' seen through thick smog Photo: AFP/GETTY

The area where the games will take place failed the government's own smog targets, even as officials opened the Olympic Village with great fanfare.

The air was "unhealthy for sensitive groups," the city's environmental protection bureau said.

The official targets are themselves much looser than those considered "safe" by the World Health Organisation.

"It doesn't really look so good," said Gunilla Lindberg, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

"The day I arrived, Tuesday, was awful. We try to be hopeful. Hopefully we are lucky during the games as we were with Atlanta, Athens and Barcelona."

Partly because of the pollution, several national teams are conducting their final preparations away from Beijing, including the British. But other athletes have begun arriving at the Olympic Village.

From this complex, the main stadia were invisible, thanks to the city's haze.

Nonetheless, Du Shaozhong, the environmental bureau's deputy director, said conditions were 20 per cent better than during the equivalent period last year.

But he admitted that the lack of wind, a common feature of July weather, was preventing the dispersal of the haze.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Olympic Athletes Wearing Masks Could Cause China to Lose Face

U.S. Committee Developed a Model in Secret; Jarrod Shoemaker Ponders the Geek Factor

U.S. triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker has a decision to make at the opening ceremony of the Olympics next month in Beijing: Should he strap on a mask?

[Jarrod Shoemaker]

Chinese officials insist the notorious Beijing air will be cleaner by August, making such contraptions unnecessary. Concerned about the pollution, the U.S. Olympic Committee is distributing a high-tech mask, developed in secrecy, to its more than 600 Olympians. If athletes deploy it, they risk insulting the hosts. Then there's the geek factor.

"I probably will want to wear it," says the 26-year-old Mr. Shoemaker, who plans to have his mask on nearly all the time he's in Beijing when not competing. "Whether I will be allowed to is a different issue."

Though the practice is less common today, Chinese for years have worn masks to protect their lungs from the country's heavy dust and pollution. But foreigners wearing them during the Games this summer -- particularly at the opening ceremony broadcast to billions of television viewers around the world? That's a different matter.

Having foreigners cover their faces at the Olympics could mean a loss of face for the Chinese. "When you're walking around with a mask on, you're basically saying, 'You guys stink,' " says Scott Schnitzspahn, performance director of the U.S. triathlon team.

The details of the mask, which the U.S. Olympic Committee, or USOC, spent more than two years developing, remain hush-hush. That contrasts with the USOC's usual openness, typified by its willingness to share its training complex in Colorado Springs, Colo., with teams from around the world.

'Top Secret'

"Some of our strategies and equipment are, quite honestly, 'top secret,' and we are hesitant to lay all our cards on the table for our competitors to mimic," explained Randy Wilber, the USOC's sport physiologist who oversaw the mask project, in an email.

Beijing residents and visitors wonder what makes up the murky haze that has shrouded the Olympic city. Andy Jordan reports from Beijing. (July 18)

The issue is highly charged for Chinese officials, who say recent measures, such as limiting vehicular traffic and shutting down factories, will make the Beijing air more than suitable for Olympic competition next month. Over the weekend, Beijing enjoyed unusually clear weather, as the city entered the final stretch of its crash effort to clean up the skies. (Please see related article.)

"When people come to this environment and get acclimated, they'll see they won't need" a mask, says Jeff Ruffolo, senior adviser to the Beijing Olympic Committee.

Mr. Shoemaker remains unconvinced.

The poor air quality during other triathlons in China that he has competed in made his lungs feel like someone was standing on his chest, he says. So last fall, when he arrived at a triathlon outside Beijing, he opted for a mask.

Competitors teased him, telling him he looked ridiculous. Mr. Shoemaker himself worried about offending his Chinese hosts, who insisted there was nothing wrong with the air.

"I definitely got some comments, like, 'Come on, that's a little much,' " he says.

Still, he wore the surgeon-style mask for nearly his entire four days in China before and after competing. He took it off just seconds before his event. In the end, Mr. Shoemaker had the last laugh: He finished first among the Americans, by 12 seconds, qualifying him for the U.S. Olympic team now headed for Beijing.

[Cyclists wear masks while riding in Beijing last week. Beijing authorities have insisted air quality in the Chinese capital has improved enough to meet its Olympic targets.]
Getty Images
Cyclists wear masks while riding in Beijing last week. Beijing authorities have insisted air quality in the Chinese capital has improved enough to meet its Olympic targets.

"There is the uncool factor," says Mr. Schnitzspahn, the triathlon team official. "But it's not so uncool once you're on the team."

American athletes who have received the new USOC mask say they were instructed not to share details about it. Some have disclosed that it contains a carbon-filter insert and comes in different colors, including black and taupe.

The secrecy has irked some. "If we have something that will help these kids from developing bronchial problems, why not share that with the rest of the world?" says Frank Filiberto, the head doctor for the U.S. boxing team.

He saw firsthand the effects of the Beijing air on his boxers during a test event last November, he says. On a scheduled five-mile run one morning, the boxers were coughing. Five of the 11 boxers came down with bronchitis, and three required medical treatment, he says. The coaches decided to keep the boxers in their hotel for the rest of the week, where they trained in the hallways.

Many play down the need to wear masks, arguing that everyone will be coping with the same conditions. The International Olympic Committee has promised to postpone events should the pollution get too thick. Some point out that pollution fears before the 1984 Games in Los Angeles turned out to be unfounded.

"There's always somebody b- about something," says former U.S. Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr. "In Athens, athletes pulled out because they thought there were going to be terrorists -- they missed out."

At the moment, there is no stated policy on mask-wearing at the opening ceremony or during competition. Olympic officials believe it's up to the international federation of each sport to determine whether to allow masks during events.

The British Olympic Association has developed a mask that could actually be worn during competition, unlike the U.S. mask. Respro Ltd., a self-described maker of "urban survival equipment" in London, says it has supplied the British team with a device called the Sportsta. It is made of neoprene and features state-of-the-art valves.

'Totally Useless'

This past spring, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, took a stand on the issue -- sort of. "I recommend athletes not to wear masks because our experts say they are not efficient," Mr. Rogge said. "They can do whatever they want, but I'm telling them it's totally useless."

Matthew Reed, a member of the U.S. triathlon team, says that seeing Olympic athletes suffering from polluted air on the world stage might not be all bad: It could embarrass China into embracing stronger environmental measures. "It's just disgusting what they've done to that part of the world," says the 32-year-old Mr. Reed, who grew up in New Zealand.

At a soccer match last year in Beijing, foreign players on the sideline wore masks, prompting several Chinese fans to tell them they were insulting and unnecessary, according to an American Olympic official who witnessed the episode.

Kara Goucher, a runner on the U.S. Olympic track team who says she will likely wear a mask between events, knows what it's like to get stares. She started wearing a mask two months ago on flights to protect against catching a cold. "People ask if I'm sick and I have to be like 'No, I'm doing this to protect myself from you!' "

Tourists at the Games this summer will have to balance sensitivity to their Chinese hosts with how they feel about health and personal appearance. "It depends on how 'Michael Jackson' you want to get," says Scott Grody, chief operating officer of Fugazy International Travel/American Express, in Boca Raton, Fla.

But the big mask moment could well be the opening ceremony on Aug. 8.

Mr. Shoemaker, the triathlete who intends to wear his mask at the ceremony, says he might consider taking it off when TV cameras zoom in on the U.S. delegation.

For friends watching at home, he says, "I want to make sure they see the big smile on my face."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Green Long March

Sseattletimes Posted by Daniel Beekman

Seven decades and four years ago, a ragged pack of Chinese idealists took flight. They trekked on foot through forests, deserts and valleys, preaching a practical, convincing backwoods gospel.

Charasmatic young leaders, including Mao Zedong, emerged. Farmers listened.

Or so the legend (Long March) goes: a weakened Red Army, an unhealthy land, a suffering people...reborn.

This month, a new generation of doers will trot across China - a 'green' army of environmentally-conscious students and volunteers. They'll preach a practical, convincing gospel: faith in the Olympic spirit and conservation.

It's the 2008 'Green Long March.'

"We want a sustainable future for China," said Frances Fremont-Smith. Fremont-Smith's NGO 'Future Generations/CHINA' partnered with Beijing Forestry University to organize the GLM project. "We're encouraging local people to set lofty goals, just like the athletes. We're passing on that Olympic 'can-do' spirit."

(Note: Future Generations/CHINA is a Hong Kong registered NGO affiliated with Future Generations, a non-profit and graduate school located in West Virgina. Since 1985, Future Generations/CHINA has conducted conservation and community-building activities in China's Tibet Autonomous Region. For more information on Future Generations/CHINA, visit

This month, Green Long Marchers will engage China's future generations.

Volunteers from Beijing Forestry University planted trees last year.

Environmental problems plague Chinese development.

The Green Long March is China's largest youth environmental movement.

Last year's inagural GLM engaged thousands of students from 43 Chinese universities, ranging across 22 provinces and 10 'eco-zones.' Consisting of 10 distinct 'routes,' China's largest youth conservation movement will cover 2008 kilometers in 2008.

In preparation for the march, Future Generations China and BFU carried our environmental education on Earth Day and Wolrd Environment Day. Volunteers will revisit villages surveyed last year to assess the impact of 2007's GLM. They'll also recognize outstanding 'green enterprises' within each community.

As part of another GLM program, the Future Generations China - BFU team will select representatives from 50 Chinese communities to participate in conservation and leadership training.

"Reporters tend to focus on what's broken...we like to focus on what's wokring," Fremont-Smith said. "We're trying to help these communities become models. Rather than crusade against offending factory bosses, we're highlighting 'green enterprises - enterprises working to reduce their own pollution."

In 2007, 10 sets of BFU backpackers trained, bused and walked between rallies, enlisting local university students along the way. Things are heating up in Beijing ahead of the Olympic Games - Future Generations has decentralized its project.

Hundreds of provincial volunteers will march this year, traversing routes like 'The Grand Canal' from Beijing south to Hangzhou, 'Northwestern Forests' from Harbin south to Shenyang, and 'National Treasures' through Chengdu in Sichuan province to Guizhou's Guiyang.

Future Generations/CHINA dispatched two staffers to Sichuan following May 12's devastating earthquake. Green Long Marchers will stomp through Sichuan as planned, but Fremont-Smith says her organization will expand its activities in the province to encompass disaster recovery and youth development.

(Note: Check out GLM's online route-map for 2008 here.)

They'll visit parks, malls, schools and retirement homes to mediate discussions, distribute fliers and solicit opinions on how environmental protection should move forward in China.

"Chinese youth have been inspired to protect the environment for years and years," Fremont-Smith said. "Now, using the Olympics as a platform, they're attracting support around the world.

"With the 2008 Games, there's been such a wealth of energy among young people here. Our idea was to borrow from the original Long March to harness that energy and bring China's conservationists together."

Green Long Marchers brought conservation to rural classrooms in 2007.

China introduced a plastic-bag ban early this summer.

Green Long Marchers will visit thousands of malls, schools, parks and retirement homes this year.

Tips for 'green' living.

When the International Olympic Committee awarded China its first Games in 2001, organizers in Beijing developed three 'concepts' to guide the city's preparations: 'People's Olympics,' 'Hi-tech Olympics' and 'Green Olympics.'

Infamous for smoggy skies and tainted tap water, China's capital pledged to clean up before the Games. From tree-planting to 'green' education, shuttered factories to emissions restrictions, Beijing has carried out a highly public environmental push.

Will the haze finally part for August's Opening Ceremonies? Will Beijing relapse once the Olympics are over? No one knows for sure.

(Note: Learn more about 'Green Olympics' on 'Blogging Beijing' here.)

"The Olympics have drawn attention to China's environment, that's for sure," she remarked. "It's hard assess the Games' overal effect - so much has changed in the past eight years. You take the Olympics out of the picture and you still have Al Gore's international campaign against global warming reaching China.

"It's like this: the Games have nudged China to change faster. Back in 2001, Beijing's organizers knew they had to make the city viable."

Fremont-Smith appreciates what China has achieved in the name of the concept 'Green Olympics'. But the country's rivers are choking on pollution. Its' aquifers are running dry. Its deserts are creeping towads the sea.

"When people talk about the 'Green Olympics,' they mostly talk about what Beijing has or hasn't done for the Games," explained Fremont-Smith. "We need to emphasize what needs to be done long-term, in terms of conservation, environmental awareness - in Beijing and in rural communities."

"Historians compare China today with the U.S. during the 1950s. Chinese are excited about their future. They're buying cars, building highways. China has to seek a new path - one that allows Chinese to enjoy modern life but doesn't lead to environmental degradation, like in the West."

Starbucks is a Green Long March sponsor in Beijing.

'Luse changzheng, luse huanbao' - 'Green Long March, green environmental protection.'

Students from more than 20 Chinese universities have volunteered.

Future Generations/CHINA director Frances Fremont has observed China's environment for three decades.

Last year, Fremont-Smith - formerly a professor of Chinese and international history in Hong Kong - was Future Generations/CHINA. She and a colleague in Nepal comprised the whole organization. Now she oversees 10 staffers, plus volunteers.

Emboldened by GLM 2007, Future Generations/CHINA secured a boatload of corporate sponsors for GLM 2008: Goldman-Sachs, Starbucks, Swire, Sun-tech etc. The Beijing Youth Federation is also an important Green Long March backer.

GLM volunteers won't march on Beijing this summer, an unfortunate consequence of security regulations related to the Games. But 30 Starbucks outlets throughout the city will host Green Long March route lectures and conservation celebrations beginning August 1.

Fremont-Smith hopes Beijingers and overseas Olympic tourists will attend.

"There's so much misinformation on China in the West," she said. "People don't understand China, or what people here are doing. The Western press feeds a desire to look at China negatively - positive stories are constantly lost in translation.

"The 2008 Games are a change for China to feel good about itself. When people feel good about themselves, they can accomplish a lot. The world's future is really resting on China's youth. The more they're inspired by the Olympics, the better.

"That's why the Green Long March is a huge step forward."

Working the crowd, 'greening' China for the 2008 Olympic Games.

They've got the whole wide world in their hands.

Photos courtesy of Future Generations/CHINA

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Beijing Turns Green Before the Olympics

New America Media, News feature, Jun Wang, Posted: Jul 03, 2008 Share/Save/Bookmark

Editor’s note: From shopping to driving to eating, Beijing residents are rearranging their lives to help save the environment just in time for the Olympics Games this August. NAM Chinese media monitor Jun Wang reports from Beijing. BEIJING – These days Ms. Yuqing Li does not cook like she used to in the morning. She goes out to buy fried pancakes – a traditional Beijing breakfast served by vendors – from a farmers’ market next to her home at six in the morning. Vendors in the farmers’ market aren’t allowed to sell fried food after eight in the morning – one of the government’s new rules to improve air quality. Like Li, many of Beijing’s residents must get up early to buy their breakfast. It’s all part of helping to make Beijing’s air cleaner before the Olympics begins on Aug. 8. According to the local media outlet Qinghe Community Public Information Service, cooking fried foods using coal stoves is prohibited all day long in the capital. Since most vendors still use coal stoves to cook, they find a way to do business under the new restrictions – cook and sell their food in the early morning – before the enforcement starts at 8:00 a.m. The Beijing government has been promoting the use of public transportation as another way to improve the poor air quality, which is of greatest concern to foreign athletes. Two more subway lines have been added to the original two used in recent years. At least seven more subway lines are in construction. Some of them will be open just before the Beijing Olympics. By then, tourists will have the option of taking the metro from the Beijing International Airport directly downtown. On the ground, bus lines are being added, with many more buses running. Since the government lowered the fare, locals are encouraged to take public transportation instead of driving. Some bus fares have been lowered by more than 50 percent. By using a Beijing public transportation card, a prepaid card launched last year, bus riders enjoy another 60 percent off. The cards can also be used for public transportation in the nearby city of Tianjin. However, many Beijing residents doubt that the newly launched regulations to make the city cleaner will be enforced after the Olympics. About 300,000 local vehicles that didn’t pass the smog tests are known as “yellow stickers,” and have been prohibited from Beijing’s streets until Sept. 20. All vehicles coming to Beijing from out of town will also be turned back unless they obtain a “green Olympic pass.” According to the Ming Pao Daily, the number of vehicles has been reduced by 60 percent in the capital. From July 20 to Sept. 20, all vehicles in Beijing will be allowed on the streets every other day, depending on the number on their license plates. This new rule is expected to further reduce the air pollution and alleviate traffic in the city. China is following the lead of its capital city, slowly turning green before the Olympics. On June 1, the Chinese State Council prohibited all stores and markets from offering plastic bags for free. According to the first China Supermarket Energy Savings Report released by the Chinese Retail Industry Association, the retail industry consumes 50 billion plastic bags per year that aren’t recycled. Statistics from China’s Plastics Processing Industry Association show that by the end of June the use of plastic bags had been reduced by 80 percent in department stores and supermarkets, and 50 percent in farmers’ markets across China. “Two thirds of the plastic bag consumption has been cut down in China, from two to three billion a day to one billion per day. It is better than what was expected,” said Jinshi Dong, vice president of the Plastics Processing Industry Association, according to Dong pointed out that some plastic bag producers, stores and markets are waiting to see if the ban will be less restrictive in the future and they can go back to the “good old days.” Ms. Li has no problem saying goodbye to plastic bags. She recalls using cloth totes and bamboo baskets for shopping when she was young. But the younger generations are more comfortable with plastic bags, she observes, since they don’t have the habit of bringing their own containers for shopping. The Guangming Daily, based in Beijing, reports that most people interviewed support the new regulation, though they acknowledge that it is an inconvenience. Cuiwei department store in Beijing set up an exchange program – to give a reusable tote to customers who bring in 50 plastic bags – during the month of June. A supermarket chain, Chaoshifa, provides shopping baskets that customers can take home for 10 RMB (about $1.40). To substitute for plastic bags, environmental experts are discussing whether old-fashioned bamboo baskets or paper bags are more environmental friendly while on TV, young people in China have made Zhouzhou, a puffy bunny promoting the “no plastic bags” policy a fashion icon. A big canvas tote with Zhouzhou and the motto “More fun without plastics” can be easily found at every one of Beijing’s fashion hubs.

Pollution in China is a concern for Olympians


Cars will come off the roads. Factories will close. Construction will stop.

And persistent pollution might still hang over Beijing, enough to sour the Summer Olympics that begin next month.

Less than 40 days until the Opening Ceremony, an estimated 600 U.S. Olympians are devising plans to combat pollution as Beijing officials scramble to turn gray haze into blue skies and 550,000 foreign visitors hope for the best.

Some Americans won't arrive in the Chinese capital until a few days before they compete. Others will wear masks designed at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs or use asthma inhalers under International Olympic Committee exemptions.

Athletes in outdoor endurance events lasting more than an hour, such as cycling, marathon and triathlon, face the prospect of delays in competition if air quality is poor, according to IOC president Jacques Rogge.

"The key is preparing them for the high level of interest," said Steve Roush, chief of sport performance of the Colorado Springs-based USOC. "Letting them know they need to stay focused and keep their mind set on what they need to do to perform on the field of play."

China contains 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities by World Bank Web site estimates, hampered by vehicle emissions, dust from construction sites and soot particles from factory smokestacks.

China challenges the U.S. as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases and Beijing rivals Mexico City as the world's most polluted city. Pollution levels in Beijing are five times over the safety benchmark of the World Health Organization.

Half of the 3.3 million private cars in Beijing will be banned during the 17-day Olympics. More subway lines have been built and millions of trees have been planted between the Gobi Desert and Beijing to curb pollution.

Plus, 153 gas stations and oil depots will cease operations, more than 1,000 coal mines will shut down, construction will halt throughout the city of 17.4 million and hybrid-electric buses will serve Olympic venues.

"The health of the athletes is absolutely not in any danger," Rogge told The Associated Press. "It might be that some will have to have a slightly reduced performance. But nothing will harm the health of the athletes."

The USOC isn't leaving anything to chance.

Swimmers will train in Singapore before the Olympics, triathletes will practice in South Korea and canoe and kayak athletes will travel to Japan. Three-time world champion sprinter Tyson Gay is expected to prepare in Hong Kong.

Triathletes Matt Reed of Boulder and Jarrod Shoemaker hope to sport masks that cover their noses and mouths when practicing but not when competing. The masks include an activated carbon filtration system, eliminating most pollutants.

"Never have I felt my performance or the team's performance was affected by the pollution," said soccer player Heather O'Reilly, who has been to China six times. "We're confident in our team. We're going to focus on the things we can control."

O'Reilly's coach, Pia Sundhage, dismissed the pollution, saying, "The two teams have the same air to breathe. It's the same problem for both teams."

Marathon runner Deena Kastor pointed to pollution concerns heading into the 2004 Athens Games that vanished once the Olympics started.

"The conditions weren't as bad as we thought," she said. "The best three people are going to be the three people on the awards stand, regardless of what the conditions are presenting."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Foreign governments help China map out plans for climate change

BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- A joint initiative by foreign governments and international agencies was launched here on Monday to assist China's ecologically fragile provinces to map out plans to cope with the climate change.

The "Provincial Programs for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in China" are a joint initiative of the Chinese and foreign governments and international agencies, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Government of Norway and the European Union (EU).

Aimed at translating China's National Climate Change Program into local action in priority provinces, the program is being funded with a contribution of 2 million U.S. dollars from Norway and 400,000 U.S. dollars from UNDP China, while the European Union is considering a further 2 million U.S. dollars in contributions.

"While new national policies have been enacted to set the vision and overarching direction for climate change mitigation and adaptation in China, more work is needed to translate such policies into on-the-ground action," said Kishan Khoday, assistant country director and team leader for energy and environment with UNDP China.

Fourteen provinces will be supported for development of local climate change strategies and policies to both reduce emissions and take adaptation measures, according to the NDRC.

The Norwegian government will help seven provinces and autonomous regions, including Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, by improving industrial efficiency and pollution controls.

The EU will assist seven provinces, including Heilongjiang and Shandong, to draw up action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The programme, which will last till the end of 2010, will also help develop plans for crop adaptation and increase water efficiency to mitigate the effects of warming on agriculture in Ningxia and Gansu, where climate change and water shortages threaten to undermine food security.

On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the project will help local governments to find integrated ways to adapt to the adverse effects of the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, which are the world's second largest store of freshwater and are receding at a faster rate than any glaciers on the planet, said Sun Cuihua, an official with Climate Office of NDRC.

The selected provinces all suffered from severe climate conditions and fragile ecological environments, which were prone to the adverse effects of climate change, said Su Wei, director of Climate Office with the NDRC.

Dealing with the problems in priority provinces would help accelerate the spread of the actions plans nationwide, Su said.

"The risks from the future impacts of warming will vary between and within provinces. If measures are to have a real effect in the coming years, swift actions must be made at the local level to develop policies, partnerships and implementation capacities,'said Khoday.