The country made some progress in reducing pollutant emissions during the first half of this year, but still failed to meet the green target.
The government has set the goal of cutting emissions of major pollutants -- sulfur dioxide (SO2) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) -- by 10 percent from 2006 to 2010, or about 2 percent annually.
But in the first six months, SO2 emissions dropped only 0.88 percent from 12.74 million tons to 12.63 million tons year on year. COD emissions, a gauge of water pollution, grew to 6.91 million tons from 6.89 million tons, an increase of 0.24 percent -- but it is a big drop from a growth of more than 3.5 percent last year, the top environmental watchdog said yesterday.
The statistics were jointly released by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the National Bureau of Statistics and the National Development and Reform Commission.
Beijing, which has promised to hold a green Olympics in 2008, was the star in cutting air pollution, with SO2 emissions diving more than 13 percent in the first six months compared with the same period last year.
Zhejiang Province topped the list in COD reduction, with the major water pollution indicator dropping 2.48 percent.
Shandong Province, which has many coal-burning power plants, discharged 980,000 tons -- or the largest amount -- of SO2 in the first half of the year; but still it was a 2.7 percent drop year on year.
The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was the No 1 culprit in water pollution, with 550,000 tons of COD pumped, a 2 percent rise year on year.
Zhao Hualin, a senior official with the pollution control department of SEPA, said although progress has been made, it is a tough task to meet the target this year.
He criticized some local officials, especially those at the grassroots level, for pursuing short-term economic gain at the cost of the environment. He also chastised some local governments for slack efforts in monitoring and punishing polluters.
During the rest of this year, the thermal power industry will face great challenges in controlling SO2 emissions, he said.
Thermal power plants have speeded up the installment of sulfur scrubbers in the first six months, reducing SO2 emissions by 5 percent against a backdrop of 18 percent growth in power generation.
The petrochemical, iron and steel, nonferrous smelter and cement industries will also be scrutinized for SO2 emissions, he said.
As for water contamination control, the papermaking industry will be targeted more effectively. The petrochemical, brewery and dyeing industries are also required to cut water pollutants drastically.
The official also said the green threshold will be raised for industries such as textiles, auto-making and power generation.
(China Daily August 22, 2007)