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Agenda set to curb pollution for green Olympics
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China is aiming to cut its air and water pollution by at least 5 percent in 2008 comparing with 2005 figures to ensure a green Olympics, said Zhou Shengxian, head of the country's environmental watchdog.

Zhou said Tuesday on a work conference of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) that the country plans to cut its sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD), two major pollutants emissions in China, by 6 and 5 percent respectively in 2008 from 2005 levels.

The plan means the country will cut up to 2.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and 1.3 million tons of chemical oxygen demand (COD) this year.

By 2010, the plan is to reduce both levels by 10 percent based on 2005 levels.

"Industrial restructuring will play a fundamental role in curbing pollution," China Daily quoted Zhou.

Use of sulfur scrubbers to clean emissions will be emphasized to curb air pollution, according to the plan.

New thermal power generation units with a combined capacity of 30 gigawatts will be installed with sulfur removal capabilities, which is expected to reduce SO2 emissions by 1.5 million tons.

Zhou also revealed that more high energy consuming and high polluting power plants will be shut down this year.

The shut-down plan includes a number of small thermal power plants with a combined output of 13 gigawatts, steel plants with a total capacity of 6 million tons, cement plants with a combined output of 50 million tons, iron production facilities with a total capacity of 14 million tons, and papermaking factories producing a combined 1 million tons.

"If achieved by the end of this year, the plan will help China reduce its emissions of SO2 by 600,000 tons and cut the COD by 400,000 tons," Zhou said.

Key eco-friendly projects will also be implemented, Zhou said.

The country's urban wastewater treatment capacity is to be increased by 12 million tons a day, which will cut COD by 600,000 tons.

In addition, industries will be required to strengthen their wastewater treatment capacities and will be expected to decrease COD by 200,000 tons a year.

Measures taken by the central government and environmental agencies last year also saw progress being made in the green battle.

The density of COD in water resources was 6.5 milligram per liter, down 7 percent on 2006.

A reduction in SO2 emissions also saw the area of land affected by acid rain shrink by 100,000 square kilometers.

The number of blue-sky days with good air quality was also up on the previous year.

However, China's fight against pollution is far from over, Zhou said.

The country ranked first in sulfur dioxide emission in the world in 2005.

SEPA figures also showed that last year, the quality of more than 26 percent of water runoff was worse than grade V - a level unfit for human contact.

(China Daily January 23, 2008)

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