The nation will reach a "turning point" this year in the battle
to control pollution, the top environment watchdog said
Zhang Lijun, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection
Administration (SEPA), said major pollutant discharges will drop
slightly by the end of this year, the first time in several
He told a news briefing that though the total amount of
pollutant discharges rose last year, the rate of increase was
slower than the previous year.
"With the country installing more pollution control facilities
and stepping up economic restructuring and policy enforcement,
there will be a further drop," said Zhang.
"I'm confident that this year, the total pollutant discharges
will reach a turning point," Zhang said, without giving further
Initial data analysis shows that sulfur dioxide emissions fell
0.3 percent in the first quarter, while the discharge of chemical
oxygen demand, a water pollution index, increased by a slight 0.4
"Most of the new pollutant-control facilities were put into use
last December, so they will show an effect this year," said
Meanwhile, the rate of waste water treatment rose from 52
percent to 57 percent in urban areas last year.
By next year, electronic monitors will be installed at waste
discharge outlets in more than 6,000 major chemical factories,
which account for about 65 percent of all major pollutant
discharges in the country, said Zhang.
A SEPA report released yesterday on the environment situation in
2006 shows the water quality remained about the same as the
Of the 745 monitored water bodies, 40 percent were of drinkable
quality, 32 percent polluted and the rest heavily polluted,
including the Liaohe River and Haihe River.
The air condition improved last year. Of the 559 cities
monitored, those whose air condition was relatively good increased
by 4.7 percent, while the number of cities whose air condition was
bad dropped by 2.1 percent.
SEPA is also making increased efforts to promote local
governments' awareness of environment protection.
According to an official plan unveiled on Monday, the focus of
local government officials' performance evaluation will be on
energy-saving and emission-reduction efforts.
Zhang also said that SEPA will release a new set of Green GDP
reports later this year to evaluate the environment cost on GDP
growth. Issue of the reports was halted in March after a trial of
several years, reportedly because local governments raised
China promised last year to reduce major pollutant discharges by
10 percent and energy consumption per unit of gross domestic
product by 20 percent by 2010.
Despite a failure to meet the annual goal last year, officials
reiterated on Monday that the original targets would stay.
(China Daily June 6, 2007)