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Cablegate: Asia Games Environmental Plan - Guangzhou Looks to Beijing

VZCZCXRO5668
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGZ #0567/01 2710925
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280925Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0957
INFO RUEHGZ/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0271
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0751
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0209
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0210
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0219
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 0020
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC 0023
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0149
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC 0095
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0258
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0254
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000567

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EMB BEIJING FOR DOE
USDOE FOR OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
USDOE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
STATE FOR EAP/CM, OES, AND EB
STATE PASS EPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON PREL BEXP CH
SUBJECT: Asia Games Environmental Plan - Guangzhou Looks to Beijing
for Help on Pollution Control

1. (SBU) Summary: As Guangzhou prepares to host the 2010 Asia Games
next November, it will use as a model pollution control measures
implemented in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Environmental clean-up efforts already underway in Guangzhou, but
the event's organizing committee has invited top experts from the
Olympics' pollution control team to help Guangzhou replicate
Beijing's success. While acknowledging that increased industrial
production linked to a broader economic recovery worldwide will
likely impede pollution control efforts, local officials and an
influential policy advisor expressed optimism that measures such as
the removal of highly polluting vehicles from circulation in urban
areas and oil-gas vapor recovery at gas stations will result in
dramatically improved air quality for the Games. Although targets
may not be met, high-level attention to Guangzhou's pollution
problems represent a unique opportunity for cooperation between U.S.
and Chinese businesses, academics, NGOs, and policy makers at the
national and sub-national levels. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
BEIJING EXPERTS ASKED TO PULL OFF REPEAT PERFORMANCE
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) The Guangzhou Asia Games Organizing Committee (GAGOC) is
under a lot of pressure to achieve pollution reduction targets in
time for next November's Asia Games, according to a contact working
closely with the committee. The contact also shared his opinion
that the committee lacks both the expertise and technical capacity
and possibly the political clout as well that Beijing was able to
pull together to bring down pollution levels in time for the
Olympics. These factors may explain the committee's decision to
invite the same team of Beijing-based experts who developed and
implemented the Olympic Action Plan to propose pollution reduction
measures for Guangzhou city and Guangdong province. A joint
working committee has been set up to implement the team's
recommendations, which are set to be finalized in a report later
this month.

3. (SBU) Inviting a team of experts from Beijing may have an
additional motivation. According to an influential environmental
policy advisor based in Guangdong, putting the onus on Beijing to
propose a pollution control plan absolves the local government of
responsibility if targets are not met. This assessment confirms
statements made by our contact working with the committee that
members are fearful of the consequences for their continued
employment if the established targets are not met.

--------------------------------------------- ------
MEASURES TARGET VEHICLES, GAS STATIONS, RESTAURANTS
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) Although the report has not been finalized, a recent
meeting with Zhong Liuju (protect), deputy team leader of the Asia
Games air quality taskforce, revealed some measures that have
already been enacted. These include oil-gas vapor recovery at
service stations, reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC)
emissions at oil refineries, control of dust emissions from
construction sites, and the development of a timetable for removing
highly polluting, or "yellow vehicles" from the city's roads.
According to a local news source, 24% of the 1.8 million vehicles
registered in Guangzhou will be banned from circulation on city
roads by June 2010. Information posted on the Guangzhou municipal
government website notes that as part of the city's efforts to put
on a "Green Asia Games," the government also plans to control soot
emissions from city restaurants.

5. (SBU) The goal of these air pollution control measures, according
to Fan Shaojia, Director of the Institute of Environmental
Meteorology at Sun Yat Sen University, is to bring SO2, NO2, and
particulate matter emissions down and improve air quality up to
national level II (blue sky) standards. Although both Zhong and Fan
noted Guangdong province's progress in recent years in using
desulfurization techniques at power plants to bring down SO2 levels,
they expressed concern regarding the trend of increasing VOC and

GUANGZHOU 00000567 002 OF 002


particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) levels. At the same time, Fan
cited optimism that oil-gas vapor recovery measures, which involve
installing an accordion-like sheath around gas tank nozzles to
prevent gas fumes from escaping into the atmosphere, would be
effective in bringing down both VOC and ozone smog levels.

---------------------------- ---------------------------
FACTORIES HAVE NOWHERE TO GO, WATERWAYS TOUGHER TO CLEAN
---------------------------- ---------------------------

6. (SBU) One of the most successful pollution control measures
implemented in the run-up to the Olympics was the relocation of
factories from Beijing's urban center to rural areas. However, as
the province that generates one-eighth of China's total GDP,
Guangdong's urban and rural areas are already so densely populated
with factories and other polluting industries that relocation is not
a practical alternative. The amount of pollution already generated
by these factories will only increase, according to Fan, as
Guangdong and surrounding provinces increase production levels to
meet new demand resulting from worldwide economic recovery.

7. (SBU) Even if Beijing's recommended measures do succeed in
improving air quality in time for the Games, there appears to be
less optimism that proposed measures to clean up rivers and
waterways will achieve any significant outcome. According to the
municipal government's website, 21 stream pollution mitigation
projects and 47 industrial sewage treatments plants will be built,
enlarged, or reconstructed in time for the Games. While he
acknowledged the government's planned projects, our contact shared
his impression that water pollution is not a top priority for the
organizing committee. He cited as an example the lack of efforts to
clean up a highly polluted river that borders the Games Village,
which is currently under construction. Another obstacle to
effective water pollution control is the lack of incentives for
polluting industries to comply with existing regulations. According
to Fan, whereas companies and factories that control emissions of
air pollutants are awarded economic incentives, the only award for
companies that do not emit pollutants into waterways is compliance
with local laws and ordinances, which are often poorly enforced and
lack penalties that serve as an effective deterrent.

--------------------------------------------- ------
CAPITALIZING ON HIGH LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT ATTENTION
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. (SBU) Comment: Although it is not clear proposed targets will be
achieved, Guangzhou's pollution problems will increasingly be the
subject of high-level attention in the lead up to the Games.
Preparation for the Games in Guangzhou may provide a unique
opportunity for cooperation between U.S. and Chinese businesses,
academics, NGOs, and policy makers at the national and sub-national
levels. Fan agreed with this assessment, noting specific areas of
collaboration could include ozone pollution control, acid rain
prevention and control, satellite remote sensing to measure the
impact of urbanization on pollution levels, and joint research on
hurricane and typhoons. Although the organizing committee may be
focused on the short-term objective of improving air and water
quality for the Games, it may be willing to consider cooperation
proposals with long-term objectives, especially if such proposals
allow local officials to showcase environmental protection efforts.
End Comment.

GOLDBECK

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