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[Climate Change] Outcome of 23rd Meeting of ROK-China Joint Committee and Director-General-Level Meeting on Environmental Cooperation
1. The 23rd meeting of the Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China and a director-general-level meeting on the matter took place in Seoul on January 23 and 22, respectively. The meetings covered in depth ways to step up bilateral environmental cooperation on fine dust and other relevant issues.
° The ROK head delegates to the Joint Committee and director-general-level meetings were Director-General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kwon Sei-joong and the head of the Climate Change Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Environment, respectively. The Chinese delegation to the meetings were led by Deputy Secretary-General of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment Guo Jing.
[Main Results of Joint Committee and Director-General-Level Meetings]
2. In the Joint Committee and director-general-level meetings, the two sides shared with each other their respective environmental policies and explored ways to work more closely together on matters of shared concern, including fine and yellow dust as well as other forms of air pollution; preventing and managing water contamination; environmental industry and technology; responding to marine pollution; and stepping up environmental cooperation at the regional and global levels, including through such platforms as the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) and the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting among the ROK, China and Japan (TEMM).
° The ROK and China agreed to continue working on seven ongoing cooperation projects, including the research on impact of environmental pollution on health and that on environmental technology and industry cooperation. They also agreed to embark on three new projects proposed by the ROK side -- information exchanges on air quality forecasts and technology exchanges on such forecasts; a joint research project on soil contamination in mining areas of the two countries; and a joint research project on environmental policy aimed at sustainable development.
3. In particular, the ROK side brought attention to the ROK people’s growing concern over fine dust amid its level lately soaring to a disaster-like one. The ROK delegation went on to stress that the ROK and China should work steadily together to reduce fine dust, which exerts impact on the people’s quality of life and health, to the extent that people could see for themselves that it has been reduced.
° In response, the Chinese delegation mentioned that by implementing a relevant policy in China, the country had clearly improved the overall quality of its ecological environment, as could be seen from the improvement in the air quality in major areas since 2013. The delegation went on to suggest that the government and people of the ROK work with China with patience in reducing fine dust, which calls for long-term steps.
4. In order to tangibly reduce fine dust in the two countries, the two sides agreed to form an expert subcommittee on fine dust and convene it for a session of its own during the Joint Committee meeting; embark on exchange programs for information on air quality forecasts and for technology for such forecasts (an early warning system regarding fine dust); broaden the scope of the joint research project (the blue skies project); and boost exchanges and cooperation between provincial governments.
° The agreement on the aforementioned exchange programs came after the ROK Ministry of Environment proposed setting up a joint early warning system designed to issue accurate forecasts regarding high-density fine dust and thereby to facilitate better responses to such situations.
- Relevant details about cooperation and schedule will be discussed at working-level meetings to start from February, and the results of those meetings will be reported at the bilateral Environment Ministers’ Meeting to come on the occasion of TEMM 21.
° In particular, the two sides agreed to broaden the scope of the “blue skies project” that had begun in May 2017 to identify the reasons of fine dust and its trajectories.
° The environment-related government agencies of the two countries will render strong support to the ROK-China Environmental Cooperation Center, opened in Beijing, China, in June 2018, for it to lead all these projects.
5. On the multilateral level, the ROK and China will continue working together for the North-East Asia Clean Air Partnership (NEACAP), launched in October 2018, to establish itself as a consultative mechanism that deals with both science and policy regarding air pollution.
° Close consultations between the ROK and China as well as among the two countries and Japan will continue for “a summarized report on long-range transboundary air pollutants (LPT) in Northeast Asia” to be published during the TEMM scheduled to take place in Japan in the second half of the year 2019.
6. The two delegations will visit the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul on January 24 to learn about the ROK’s weather and air quality forecasting system and to explore ways to work together in that regard.
7. The two sides agreed to hold their next Joint Committee meeting in China in the second half of the year 2019.
* unofficial translation