World Bank Board approves two grants totaling US$19.8M to China to support reduction of dioxins from pulp, paper industry, promote eco-transport development in cities; China to adopt measures, strategy to reduce dioxins aided by GEF US$15M grant

WASHINGTON , March 29, 2012 (press release) – Today the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved two grants totaling US$19.8 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to the People’s Republic of China to support reduction of dioxins from pulp and paper industry and promote eco-transport development in city clusters in the country.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a group of chemical substances including pesticides, industrial chemicals and unintentional by-products of industrial processes that persist in the environment, and can lead to serious health effects, including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and even diminished intelligence. Dioxins are one type of the 21 POPs listed in the Stockholm Convention on POPs.

Among others, pulp and paper production forms and releases dioxins unintentionally if elemental chlorine bleaching technologies are used. As a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, China has proposed to adopt a series of measures to control and reduce dioxins release from its pulp and paper industry before 2015. Dioxins Reduction from the Pulp and Paper Industry Project, supported by a GEF grant of US$15 million, will assist China to implement its national strategy in this sector.

The project will focus on demonstrating best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP) in four existing non-wood mills which typify the most commonly used non-wood fiber material in China: straw, reed, bamboo and bagasse. Support will also be provided to strengthen the government’s capacity in monitoring and enforcement of a national dioxin standard issued recently. Based on the results of the demonstration projects, China will develop a long-term national action plan to scale up BAT/BEP adoption and further control the formation and release of UPOPs from both the wood and non-wood pulp sectors.

“China has been very proactive in identifying and tackling its POPs issues since its signing of the Stockholm Convention in 2004.,” said World Bank’s Senior Environmental Specialist Jiang Ru and task manager of the project. “As the first project working on unintentionally produced POPs from its industrial sectors, this project will showcase how industrial sectors can address POPs without compromising their competitiveness.”

City clusters, defined as areas comprising two or more geographically adjacent cities linked by commuting corridors with increasing social and economic interdependence, are emerging and growing rapidly in China. So far, transport modes in city clusters have mostly been developed by individual modal agencies with little consideration of the need for integration. This contributes to system deficiencies, such as difficulties for passenger transfers between modes, inefficient modal operations, congestion for one mode while under-utilization for another, and disincentives for the use of public transport. All these translate into low transport efficiency, increasing reliance on private cars, poor energy efficiency, high greenhouse gas emissions, duplication of investment and over-utilization of land resources for transport infrastructure.

The City Cluster Eco-Transport Project will promote multi-modal transport integration in city clusters in a way that enhances transport efficiency, saves energy and reduces emissions. The GEF grant of US$4.8 million will mainly fund the development of a set of city cluster comprehensive transport strategies and guidelines, and pilot demonstration in Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan (CZT) city cluster including review and refinement of a comprehensive transport system development plan, technical support to the design of integrated multi-modal transport terminals, Smart Information System such as multi-modal transport information platform for passengers at the terminals, and pilot demonstration for the design and implementation of multi-modal passenger terminals that would minimize passenger transfer time and inconvenience. The grant will also finance workshop and training activities to build up local capacities, as well as project monitoring and evaluation.

“In addition to the support to the Ministry of Communications for the development of eco-transport strategies for city clusters, the project supports pilot demonstration in a selected city cluster, with a focus on the planning of transport integration and design of integrated passenger transport hubs,” said World Bank’s Lead Infrastructure Specialist Zhi Liu who manages the project. “It is expected that the experience from the pilot demonstration would help other city clusters find appropriate institutional arrangement and process to address the issues of transport integration.”

Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. It provides grants to developing countries and countries in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and POPs.

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