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Italy Special: Sino-Italian cooperation to improve environmental quality

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-26 07:40

 Italy Special: Sino-Italian cooperation to improve environmental quality

The Sino-Italian Environment and Energy Efficient Building at Tsinghua University is a good example of reducing energy and water consumption in China's construction industry. Provided to China Daily

Private companies can play a bigger role in China's environmental protection efforts, one Italian environmental official said in Beijing.

"The government in China as in Europe should play the relevant role of establishing the rules, objectives and standards and monitoring the results, while private investors should implement the programs," said Corrado Clini, director-general of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea.

These remarks came after the 10th anniversary of a bus engine program launched by Iveco and the Beijing Transportation Group celebrated on Monday.

The Italy-headquartered industrial vehicle and bus manufacturer has since provided about 3,000 low-emission compressed natural gas engines and 2,800 high-efficiency diesel engines to Beijing.

Clini, who once served as the minister of environment in the Monti cabinet, said with assistance from other companies the capital city could have 10,000 sustainable engines.

The Iveco program is a joint initiative between the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea and the Beijing municipal government to aid in improving air quality.

"Air pollution is very difficult because it's a combination of climatic conditions, public transport, and energy used for heating and cooling," he said.

"However it is an interesting driver of new solutions to overcome the problem, such as those engines that could cut emissions by 50 percent, and I am confident that the problem will be managed and overcome."

In addition to the Iveco program, China and Italy have worked together on more than 100 projects since the two countries signed a package of agreements on environmental protection and sustainable development in 2000.

Joint programs

The Sino-Italian Environment and Energy Efficient Building at Tsinghua University, where Clini serves as a visiting professor, is an example of one of the collaborative projects.

The building - also called the Italian Pavilion - uses solar energy to provide part of its electricity, recycles water, and takes advantage of the water system outside to aid its cooling system.

This project is a good example of reducing energy and water consumption in China's construction industry, according to a brochure from Clini's ministry.

Clini said the two countries have also organized a training program for China's senior civil servants and corporate managers in the field of environmental protection.

By the end of 2012, some 6,500 Chinese officials, experts and businesspeople attended training classes at Venice International University.

Clini said it is likely the largest training program on environmental protection in the world, adding that the Italian ministry of environment will continue to work together with its Chinese partners to make new progress in the future.

Clini, a frequent traveler to China, said he has seen Beijing changing a lot in the last 10 years.

"New parks and green areas have been realized; a very wide and effective public transportation system has been developed; the major sources of industrial pollution have been dismissed from the urban area and the city is continuing to carry out projects for testing new advanced sustainable urban systems," he said.

Yet Clini said there is still more to do because of the environmental problems the country is facing coupled with the rapid development in the last 15 years.

Companies that introduce new technologies should be encouraged because China needs the best solutions, he added.

For example, water pollution in southern China and water shortages in the northern part of the country, make this resource a strong one to invest in, Clini said.

"Water is as important as oil and gas for China's development because without water you cannot have agriculture or industry," he said.

Clini added that demand for water is rising as more people are flowing to urban areas, but the demand won't be met if people don't improve water use efficiency.

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