China's rivers and skies became cleaner in 2008, official figures indicated on Monday.
Analysts said one of the contributors for the better environment has been the lower emissions and pollutants as a result of the economic slowdown.
A file photo of Shichahai in Beijing. China's rivers and skies became cleaner in 2008, figures from the China Environmental Monitoring Center indicated on January 12, 2009. Analysts said one of the contributors for the better environment has been the lower emissions and pollutants as a result of the economic slowdown. [China.org.cn photo]
The China Environmental Monitoring Center said major Chinese cities enjoyed 90.5 percent good air quality in 2008, up 1.8 percent over 2007.
The nation's environmental quality for surface water in 2008 appeared medium-polluted and the proportion of water-quality level I-III reached 47.7 percent, up 4.2 percent year on year.
"Factory closures due to the economic slowdown are not the only factors that aided the better performance. The Green GDP concept and the government's long-standing environmental protection measures also helped largely," said Xia Yeliang, economist at Peking University.
Wu Changhua, Great China director of London-based Climate Group said 2008 saw lesser emissions as most of the manufacturers reduced production in the wake of lesser orders.
More visible impacts on the environment are expected in 2009 as the economic slowdown usually has a sluggish effect, said Zhang Jianyu, head of the US-based Environmental Defense Fund's China office.
Some experts are of the view that the industry restructuring has also contributed to the better environment. An example to this effect is the reduced investments on coal-fired plants and the search for more viable alternatives.
"In the past, coal-fired power plants accounted for 60 percent of pollutants and emissions, but the new focus on alternative energy like wind and nuclear power would help reduce the pollution levels further," said Qi Ye, an environmental professor at Tsinghua University.
China Electricity Council said on Jan 5 that the investment in coal-fired plants declined year-on-year, down 21.99 percent over same period last year, while nuclear and wind power investments soared.
(China Daily January 13, 2009)