China will further reduce its current level of discharge of various industrial pollutants by at least 10 percent over the next five years, a senior official with the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said Friday.
The goal will be attained through phasing out backward industrial techniques and promoting clean production processes. The enforcement of laws will also be strengthened to stop new pollution and damage to the ecosystem, SEPA Minister Xie Zhenhua said Friday at a press conference arranged by the State Council Information Office.
According to Xie, in the last five years the country has closed a total of 73,000 enterprises which discharged excessive pollutants into the environment and wasted natural resources.
Many factories have upgraded their production techniques and phased out outdated facilities and techniques.
To date, more than 90 percent of the 238,000 industrial enterprises which have been demanded by the state to treat pollution have met national standards for waste discharge.
As a result, while the country has experienced rapid economic and social development over the last five years, it has not been done at the cost of environmental damage, and the total discharge of major pollutants has been cut by more than 10 percent compared to the levels of 1995.
Xie stressed that in the next five years, all economic and social construction projects, especially the massive ones such as the planned 4,200-km pipeline that will transport gas from the country’s west to the eastern areas, must pass environmental impact appraisals.
The country will continue its treatment of rivers and lakes in the years to come, said Xie.
Progress has been achieved in cleaning up major rivers and lakes in China over the last five years, but more work must be done to bring them up to environmental standards, he added.
While treating industrial and urban pollution, efforts will also be made to prevent extension of pollution in rural areas, said the minister.
The expanded use of chemical fertilizers and the development of livestock raising and aquaculture are now causing environmental problems, he said.
Regarding Beijing’s environmental quality during its bidding for the 2008 Olympic Games, Xie said that the city would become “as clean as Paris” by the year 2008.
Paris, along with Toronto, Istanbul and Osaka, are Beijing’s rivals for the right to host the Olympics eight years from now.
Xie said Beijing planned to spend 47.6 billion yuan (US$5.7 billion) on reducing air pollution between 1998 and 2002, and that the government had already undertaken dozens of projects to improve the city’s environment.
By the time the Olympics open, Beijing will have spent about 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) on cleaning up its air.
(China Daily 12/23/2000)