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Some Environmental Goals Not Met
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High consumption of power in the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2000-05), especially after 2002, has led to a number of environmental protection targets not being met in this period, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said in Beijing yesterday..

Eight of the 20 environmental goals set for the 10th Five-Year Plan have not been met, said Zou Shoumin, deputy head of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP). 

The five-year plan stipulated that discharges of sulphur dioxide should be cut by 10 percent, but in fact compared with the levels of 2000 releases of the pollutant had actually increased by 27 percent in 2005.

Another six goals, among them the reduction of carbon dioxide discharges and industrial solid waste and increasing the capabilities of wastewater treatment had not been fully realized.

"We worked out the 10th Five-Year Plan on the basis of economic levels in 1998 and 1999," Zou said. "However, after 2002 China witnessed rapid development after the Asian financial crisis of 1997."

CAEP expected that in 2005 China's energy consumption would not exceed 1.5 billion tons standard coal. However, the country had used 2.2 billion tons that year.

Thermal-power generation, as the biggest consumer of coal and discharger of sulphur dioxide, had seen growth far beyond the plan. According to the plan, in 2005, the installed capability of thermo-power generation was about 400 milion kw. But the de-facto installed capability reached more than 500 million kw.

"Energy consumption and thermo-power generation development made a major contribution to the failure of sulphur dioxide reductions," Zou said.

"But during that period, the country's environmental status generally improved, although the problem of  pollution remains pressing," said Zhu Jianping, deputy director of China National Environmental Monitoring Centre.

The old approach of economic growth first and pollution treatments second has largely resulted in the current situation, Qu Geping, president of the China Environmental Protection Foundation, said at a meeting on urban environment and sustainable development in Shanghai yesterday.

Poor decisions taken about the use of resources were also responsible, Qu said. As a large consumer of coal China had from the very beginning allowed crude coal to be burned before being processed to reduce pollutants.

Maurice Strong, environmental expert and first director of the United Nations Environment Program, said at the meeting that China is now on the right track to protect the environment.

"China is showing its commitment to the challenge," Strong said.

(China Daily April 13, 2006)


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