The greater the public awareness, the more active the protection
campaign and action to save the environment will be. It would also
mean a lower public satisfaction level with the existing state of
These are the main findings of a nationwide survey conducted by
the China Environmental Culture Promotion Association, under the
State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA).
Zhejiang Forestry College
students get a feel of a "tree" made from soft drink cans and other
wastes. The "tree" was "planted" in Hangzhou to promote green
awareness and solicit opinions on what people can do to protect the
Public awareness and protection steps are urgently needed to
improve the deteriorating environment, show the survey results, in
which public awareness on environmental protection was 42.1 out of
100, action 36.6, and satisfaction 44.7.
"The three major indices scored poorly," association
Secretary-General Wang Panpu said yesterday, the day the survey was
released. It raises concern, too, over the extent of public
involvement in environment protection.
That only 13 percent of the respondents thought they were
playing an important role in protecting the environment raises real
worries. The survey concludes that public initiatives have not been
strong because almost half the respondents didn't think they had
made any substantial contribution to improving the environment.
This means the country hasn't succeeded in its public awareness
The survey has been carried out every year since 2005. But this
is the first time it covered the 31 capitals of the mainland's provinces and autonomous regions, interviewing
more than 9,000 people.
Public awareness in Beijing, for instance, is third on the list,
with action being at the top. Residents in Jinan and Lanzhou in
Shandong and Gansu provinces were the most worried about the
environment followed by those in Beijing. Incidentally, Jinan and
Lanzhou are among the worst polluted cities in the country.
The survey, which focused on people's livelihood, too, showed
environmental pollution has undermined daily life, from food and
clothing to housing and transport.
More than 60 percent of the respondents were worried that a
deteriorating environment could harm food security, making it by
far the greatest public concern. About 40 percent feared interior
decoration material could be harmful. Another 40 percent saw
clothing material as a health hazard.
Water was a major concern, too: more than 30 percent of the
respondents thought it was the biggest fallout of environmental
damage, 20 percent were not content with the quality of water
supplied to residential areas, and another 20 percent were nervous
about drinking water provided in public places.
Conversely, the survey found that public awareness on water
problems was poor and had to be improved. About 60 percent of the
respondents, for example, didn't know what caused last summer's
algae outbreak in Taihu Lake, and more than 50 percent didn't know
that about 70 percent of the country's major rivers were polluted
and all runoffs in urban areas were harmful.
Poor public awareness is especially surprising when 26 percent
of the respondents said they were suffering because of a seriously
SEPA Vice-Minister Pan Yue nailed the problem, saying: "Since
environmental pollution poses an increasing threat to human health,
environmental protection has become synonymous with human rights
protection." Public participation is the most important element in
the country's green drive. How to use public power to improve the
environment is a major issue for the government this year.
Some of the survey's other important findings are:
66.9 percent of the respondents think the country faces a
serious environmental problem;
Only 2.7 percent don't treat environmental pollution as a
73.1 percent support the green GDP that shows how much
environmental damage has economic growth caused. More than 73
percent hope the green GDP, issued only for 2004, would
44 percent believe short-term economic returns are the main
reason for deterioration of the environment, and 58 percent say
industries pay attention only to self-development and ignore the
80 percent acknowledge the government's efforts to protect the
More than 64 percent think the central government treats
environmental issues "seriously" or "relatively seriously";
44 percent agree (and 37 percent agree to some extent) that
loans should be granted only to those companies that guarantee no
damage would be done to the environment.
(China Daily January 8, 2008)