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MOST and UNEP Signed MOU

WAN Gang, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, attended a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development (IESD) board meeting held on November 16, 2011, where WAN and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner jointly inked a Memorandum of Understanding between Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and United Nations Environment Program.

WAN reviewed the collaborations between Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and United Nations Environment Program in recent years. He said the two sides have laid a fine ground work for cooperation in the area of environmental technology, and shared a common vision for the future. The newly signed memorandum of cooperation will stage six cooperation projects during the period of 2011-2013, or the second three-year cooperation phase, covering water resources planning, water resources utilization, water resources related ecological protection, early droughts warning system and associated adaptation, dry land water saving farming, desertification control among others in Africa. The projects will be implemented through technical cooperation, technology transfer, capacity building, and a range of pilot projects for integrated demonstration park, research centers, and laboratories. The memorandum also supports the collaboration between Shanghai Municipal Government and UNEP on building an eco-island in Chongming, Shanghai. WAN said the South-South cooperation initiated to address climate change issues through scientific and technological means is a priority area where China are working with other developing countries and international organizations, including UNEP. Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in collaboration with UNESCO, UNDP, and UNEP, sponsored a South-South cooperation seminar on climate change in October 2011. MOST will release the second edition of South-South S&T Cooperation on Climate Change Adaptation Technical Manual at the upcoming United Nations climate change negotiations to be held in Durban, South Africa. China also opened a website for international S&T cooperation on climate change, with the involvement of UNEP as a partner. The two sides will strengthen cooperation in the above-mentioned areas.

Crisp but Workable Rice Straw

Dr. LIU Binmei and coworkers at Chinese Academy of Sciences Hefei Institute of Physical Sciences managed to change the structure of paddy rice stems through ion beam mutagenesis, allowing the mutated rice stems to be crisp but resistant to lodging. The crisp stems can be easily smashed by a mechanical harvester, and turned into a fertilizer in the soil. Researchers placed rice seeds under ion beam irradiation, in a bid to change the lignin and cellulose content in stems. They harvested from the repeated experiments a mutant having a lodging resistant crisp stem, without affecting the leaves and grain. Further study shows that the crisp nature of the mutated stems is the combined result of a reduced cellulose content and an increased hemicellulose and lignin content.

To evaluate the potential applications of the mutant, researchers staged a large-scale field experiment in Feixi, Hefei. The paddy rice grown there were robust in growth and lodging resistant, with an increased yield by 5%. The new species saw no significant change in

pest resistance. The mutant straw stems can easily be smashed by a mechanical harvester, and 85% of the smashed straw stems would stand at a length less than5cm, with the longest under 10cm. Meanwhile, crisp stems became more eatable as a livestock feed for animals raising industry.

Researchers said they are currently working on the field management part of growing the crisp paddy rice, including applicable fertilizer and pesticide dosages and growing methods, in an attempt to put the new technology into production applications.

China Reduced 1.5 Billion Tons of Carbon in Five Years

China Low-Carbon Economic Development Report (2012) recently released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said China is not only the largest carbon emitter in the world, but also the largest carbon emission cutter in the world. During the period of 2005-2010, China reported a reduced GDP per unit of energy use by 19.1%, or 630 million tons of coal equivalent, or 1.5 billion tons of carbon.

The Report reviewed China’s accomplishments made in emission reduction and associated planning, and laid out an energy development roadmap for the country. The Report added that the core of China’s 12th five-year planning is to materialize a fundamental change in the development mode, encouraging a green and low-carbon oriented development. To take the low-carbon path, China has to achieve a range of binding targets, including a raised non-fossil fuel as a proportion of primary energy consumption by 11.4%, a reduced per GDP energy consumption by 16%, and a reduced per GDP carbon dioxide emission by 17%. The emission reduction will not be confined to sulfur dioxide only, but would rather include carbon dioxide emissions. These goals, when materialized, will significantly cut down China’s carbon dioxide and pollutants emissions.

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