EPA Collaboration with China
EPA’s bilateral relationship with China is one of its most significant.
EPA and China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) – formerly the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) – collaborate to strengthen capacity to address current and emerging environmental and public health challenges. This collaboration has expanded the quality of environmental protection expertise at both EPA and MEE, and has equipped China to achieve significant milestones in the development and implementation of its environmental protection programs, policies and laws.
EPA and MEE’s long-standing partnership is formalized through the Memorandum of Understanding between the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China on Environmental Cooperation, which outlines six key areas of cooperation.
EPA’s Office of Research and Development has also collaborated with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) on joint research to better assess emissions and their impacts, improve mitigation practices and technologies, and enhance sustainability. Areas of shared research have included water sustainability, computational toxicology, technologies for soil and ground water remediation, air pollution monitoring, motor vehicle emissions, and clean cookstoves.
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EPA’s cooperation with MEE on air pollution focuses on local and regional air quality management and the transportation sector.
Regional Air Quality Management Conferences: Annual conferences bring U.S. and Chinese air quality officials and experts together to exchange information on best implementation practices and policy approaches for reducing urban and regional pollution such as PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) and ozone.
AirNow-International in China: AirNow-International (AirNow-I) helps inform the public about the quality of the air they breathe by providing real-time air quality information. In 2008, the AirNow team established a collaborative pilot program with the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center (SEMC) to build and install an AirNow system in Shanghai. After the successful debut of AirNow-I at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the Yangtze River Delta provinces worked together to share air quality data. The groundbreaking pilot with SEMC has resulted in several more AirNow-I systems operating around the world and more countries participating in the AirNow-I Community.
Air Monitoring: In 2008, U.S. Embassy Beijing Exitbegan monitoring PM 2.5 pollution from a monitor on the Embassy roof. The objective was to provide accurate air pollution data for reporting purposes and to provide Embassy employees with air pollution health advisories in line with EPA standards. In part due to differences in the U.S. monitor readings and those of the Chinese government, MEE released draft PM 2.5 standards in 2011 that mandated the creation of a comprehensive air monitoring system. China has since adopted pollution prevention measures including a State Council-mandated Air Pollution Control and a Prevention Action Plan that set ambitious pollution-reduction goals, which culminated in 2017 being the cleanest year since monitoring began.
U.S.-China Green Ports and Vessels Initiative: Maritime transport is essential to the world's economy as over 90% of the world's trade is carried by sea. Goods movement through marine and inland ports and vessels produces significant emissions of air pollutants and black carbon. Marine vessel emissions impact air quality and human health in densely populated port cities, along vessel routes, and far inland. Established in 2015, the U.S.-China Green Ports and Vessels Initiative (GPVI) allows both countries to share best practices, tools, and technologies to assess and reduce emissions of air pollutants and black carbon from ports and vessels, to achieve improved air quality, public health benefits, and sustainable economic growth.
Clean water is a cornerstone of public health and is vital to both a sustainable environment and economic development. EPA collaboration with MEE on water focuses on surface and groundwater quality management, safe supply of drinking water including source water protection, and water pollution prevention and control. Collaborative efforts between EPA and MEE culminated in the 2015 release of China’s Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan to tackle water pollution through science and technology, economic and industrial transformation, and stronger coordination and public participation.
Water Quality Testing: From 2012 to 2016, the two countries conducted the U.S.-China Pilot Demonstration Project on Groundwater Sampling with a demonstration base set up in Beijing. The pilot project trained more than 100 technical staff from 22 provinces and municipalities on relevant groundwater sampling techniques to implement at local levels.
Promoting Clean Water Technologies: EPA has shared techniques and technologies for water treatment that have helped improve and solve water quality problems in the United States, including guidance and standards, tools, and Best-Available-Technology in critical areas. Topics covered have included groundwater assessment and remediation, drinking water protection, non-point pollution prevention and treatment, ecological restoration, nitrogen and phosphorus control, permit management, monitoring, supervision and inspection technologies.
EPA collaborates with China to promote the sound management of chemicals and reduce emissions and exposure to toxic substances. Reducing mercury emissions and exposure is a priority, particularly in the context of implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Mercury Management and Convention Implementation: The United States and China have both joined the Minamata Convention, and EPA collaborates with MEE and the ministry’s Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) on actions to implement the Convention. The two countries cooperated on a bilateral workshop on mercury policies and a subsequent final report prepared by FECO on suggestions for implementation of the Convention.
The workshop also fostered a country-to-country exchange on mercury management. EPA hosted visiting delegations for study tours, covering topics such as pollution release and transfer registry reporting; emission control for industrial boilers, cement plants, and coal-fired power plants; and information in support of China’s Minamata Convention Initial Assessment.
Chemical Management: EPA and MEE have held study tours and workshops on chemical review processes and modeling. These exchanges have assisted MEE in implementing improved measures for new chemicals management and issuing an inventory of existing chemical substances in China. EPA and MEE are also collaborating on a pilot program for developing registration requirements for hazardous chemicals to reduce and eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and other toxics.
Contaminated sites and hazardous waste pose serious risks to human health and the environment and require proper remediation and management to ensure public safety. EPA collaborates with China to enhance the management and prevention of pollution from these sources. With MEE, EPA shares best practices to manage soil and hazardous waste pollution through workshops, study tours, and information exchange.
Promoting Environmental Technologies Through Policy Dialogues: In 2017, EPA and the U.S. Department of Commerce co-hosted the 4th Environmental Industries Forum (EIF). The event focused on the deployment of environmental technologies to remediate contaminated sites for reuse. Discussions included EPA’s Superfund and Brownfields programs and the application of remediation technologies in China.
Strong environmental enforcement and compliance is critical to assure environmental laws are fully implemented and to ensure consistency and fair practices. EPA works with China to strengthen compliance with and enforcement of environmental laws.
In 2016, delegates from MEE visited the National Enforcement Investigations Center in Denver, CO, to learn about EPA’s advanced compliance monitoring techniques. The delegation also visited a Superfund site to learn about environmental law implementation. EPA and MEE also exchanged information on best practices on enforcement programs and data analytics.
Strong environmental institutions and legal structures are the foundation of all environmental protection. EPA collaborates with China in the development of environmental laws, regulations, and institutions, focusing on air, water, chemicals, waste, and soil.
Environmental Law Implementation: In 2017, EPA’s Office of General Counsel participated with Chinese government officials in a seminar on environmental governance in Beijing. The seminar was sponsored by the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), an influential Chinese think tank on environment and development issues. High-level Chinese officials emphasized the need for stronger mechanisms for environmental protection across provincial boundaries, adopting watershed approaches, and strengthening oversight of local implementation. EPA presented on U.S. lessons learned on federal relationships with state and local governments in implementing environmental laws, including a case study on the Chesapeake Bay Program.
- Ministry of Ecology and the Environment (MEE) Exit
- Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Exit
- National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Exit
- U.S. Department of State
- AIRNow-International Exit