China is capable of meeting new pollution reduction and energy
saving targets by 2010, according to Niu Wenyuan, a counsellor of
the State Council.
"It is a tough task, but we see the high possibility to realize
the goal," Niu told China Daily yesterday in an exclusive
interview on the sidelines of the annual session of the National
Committee of the CPPCC.
China wants to reduce pollution by 10 percent and downsize the
energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20
percent within three years.
Niu's remarks were in response to growing nationwide concerns
that China would not meet its targets after falling short of them
The goal last year was to cut chemical oxygen demand (COD), a
water pollution index, and sulphur dioxide emissions by 2 percent
and cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4 percent.
However, statistics from the State Environmental Protection
Administration (SEPA) reveal that COD reached 14.31 million tons
last year, up 1.2 percent from the previous year and sulfur dioxide
emissions increased by 1.8 percent compared to 2005.
The energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped only by 1.2
"It is impossible to see immediately results in the first year
or two, since reducing pollution and energy consumption is a very
complicated and long process," Niu said, who is also the head of
the Sustainable Development and Strategy Group of the Chinese
Academy of Science.
"It's inappropriate to simply divide the five-year targets
evenly in five years."
He predicted that substantial improvements were unlikely to be
recorded until 2008.
Niu attributed increased emission rates and energy consumption
to China's fast economic development and "irrational" economic
Last year, China's economy grew by 10.7 percent.
Demand for coal grew by 230 million tons, resulting in the
release of 2.8 million tons of sulphur dioxide from coal burning,
according to the SEPA.
The existing economic structure relies heavenly on energy
consumption. Industries such as steel, oil, chemical, metallurgy,
paper-making, printing and dying, and building materials consume
huge amounts of energy contributing to the amount of emissions.
Niu called for innovations in five major areas to include better
supervision and technology upgrades to reverse the current culture
of polluting and high energy consumption.
"Measures such as the installation of sulphur dioxide scrubbing
facilities should be made compulsory to avoid excessive emission of
sulphur dioxide by all coal power generation stations," he
Small power stations with outdated technology and high emission
rates should also be closed, he added.
China should try to gradually replace coal with more
environmentally friendly options such as hydropower, natural gas
and solar power, he said.
"I am confident for the long term target as the Chinese
government is strengthening its efforts to cope with issues," he
SEPA officials pledged last month that a series of new rules and
regulations for industry were expected this year.
(China Daily March 8, 2007)