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Urban Environmental Protection in China
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China's rapid urban development over the last 20 years has taken its toll on the country's resources and environment, according to a report released in Beijing on Thursday by the country's environment watchdog.

The report entitled "Urban Environmental Protection in China" was published by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

In 1997, the SEPA launched a nationwide campaign called "National Model City for Environmental Protection" (NMCEPs). The aim of the campaign was to encourage local authorities to participate in urban environment protection. 47 cities were selected to become NMCEPs, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa.

Prevention and Control of Urban Air Pollution

Urban air quality across China has remained stable without further degradation since China adopted its reform and opening up policy. This is thanks to proactive measures taken by city governments such as adjusting energy structures, increasing the use of clean and renewable energy, application of central heating systems, enhancing industrial restructuring and the control of industrial pollution, controlling vehicle fumes emission, and dust control.

In fact, the air quality in some cities has even improved.

As a result, the percentage of cities meeting Grade II national air quality standards rose from 33.1 percent in 1999 to 38.6 percent in 2004. While the percentage of cities inferior to Grade III national air quality standard decreased from 40.5 percent to 20.3 percent during the same period.

In 1997, 13 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Dalian and Xiamen started issuing weekly urban air quality reports.

From 2000, China Central Television (CCTV) and major national newspapers launched air quality reports for 40 cities.

All 113 cities in the pilot group of the environmental protection program should be implementing an air quality reporting system soon. Some cities also conduct air quality forecasts.

Prevention and Control of Urban Water Pollution

The Chinese government has carried out further pollution prevention and control work as well as conservation activities on major river basins, waters and drinking water sources.

It has enhanced urban industrial restructuring, ordered the removal of enterprises that are notorious for polluting waterways with industrial waste, and implemented treatment processes for industrial effluence.

The water quality in the centralized drinking-water sources of the 47 NMCEPs is by and large good, and the up-to-standard rate of drinking water sources basically remained stable.

Fifty-three percent of those cities achieved an up-to-standard rate of 100 percent in water quality, while 80 percent achieved an up-to-standard rate of 70.2 percent.

Moreover, the up-to-standard rate of industrial effluence discharge in the NMCEPs increased from 83.6 percent to 91.53 percent. And the up-to-standard rate of urban water function areas went up from 89.49 percent in 1999 to 93.95 percent in 2004.

Sewage treatment capacities are also on the rise.

Domestic sewage treatment rates increased consistently from 24.7 percent in 1999 to 53.6 percent in 2004.

Prevention and Control of Urban Noise Pollution, Solid Waste Pollution and Radioactive and Radiation Pollution

In general, China's urban acoustic environment is fairly good.

Monitoring results from the 2000-2004 period show that some improvements have been made.

In terms of traffic noise, 84.4 percent of China's 328 cities enjoyed a rather good urban acoustic environment. 61.9 percent of them had relatively good regional acoustic environments in 2004.

However, there were still some cities that were subjected to medium to heavy noise pollution.

Pollution caused directly or indirectly by solid wastes still remains a widespread problem in China due to the inadequate disposal methods.

In 2003, over 150 million tons of household garbage was cleared and moved away, an increase of over 70 percent from 1993.

However, the environmentally sound disposal rate of urban garbage increased by about 30 percentage points compared with that of 1993.

In 2004, the results from a national radiation monitoring network showed that the dosage rate of air absorption of environmental γ (gamma) radioactivity in over 10 provinces and municipalities was within the baseline range of natural radioactivity levels.

Electro-magnetic emission levels at most of the mobile communications base stations were also found to have met with national standards.

Local governments at all levels are responsible for environmental quality within their administrative regions.

The SEPA implemented the quantitative examination system for comprehensive control of urban environment (QESCCUE) in a number of cities in 1989.

Today, some 500 cities across China are involved in QESCCUE.

(China.org.cn June 2, 2005)

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