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RELEASE: 6/5/98
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Sharon A. Southard
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994


As sea levels on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean continue to rise, officials from The Netherlands and New Jersey today laid the groundwork for an international partnership that could lead to joint efforts to address the growing problem of global warming.

Her Excellency Margaretha de Boer, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment for The Netherlands, and New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert C. Shinn Jr. today agreed to work together on several issues important to the economy and the environment of their respective regions, in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"Cooperation is very important because the industrial world is only at the beginning of a comprehensive approach to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases," said Minister de Boer. "We have to develop all kinds of innovative instruments to stimulate citizens and industry to alter the use of energy consumption. We will have to learn how we can trade emission rights of greenhouse gases, and how we can involve industry in this process. Our long-standing relationship with New Jersey provides a sound basis to develop this knowledge from the American and European perspectives."

"This unprecedented agreement will further mutual environmental goals important to our economic survival," said Commissioner Shinn. "As a coastal state with a tremendous tourist-based shore economy, New Jersey cannot afford to ignore the potentially devastating consequences of global warming and related sea level rise."

At a ceremony at the State House in Trenton today, Minister de Boer and Commissioner Shinn signed a letter of intent that establishes a framework for developing joint initiatives to combat global warming, including a trading system for greenhouse gas emission credits. The national Center for Clean Air Policy, of which Commissioner Shinn is a member, will facilitate the project.

"This is an historic and internationally significant step in our evolving relationship with the Dutch government," said Governor Christie Whitman. "Only through partnerships like these will we be able to begin to address global issues."

For the past five years, Governor Whitman's administration has been studying the innovative environmental protection strategies used in The Netherlands. Their success is based on the ability to set specific goals and achieve those goals in partnership with the regulated community, a strategy New Jersey has begun to employ.

In addition to their coastal locations, the two entities have much in common. Both are about the same size, flat and densely populated, with highly significant chemical and agricultural industries. They consequently share many of the same environmental problems.

The 11-member Dutch delegation was in Washington, D.C. yesterday where it met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to discuss environmental and economic sustainability issues. That afternoon, the Netherlands Embassy hosted a symposium on related topics in which Commissioner Shinn participated.

The delegation's itinerary today included meetings with representatives from the national Center for Clean Air Policy, the New Jersey Center for Advanced Technology, Rutgers University and the business community, and a tour of the Burlington County EcoComplex.


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