Beijing publishes environment white paper  

BEIJING, June 5 — The Chinese government has issued a 10-chapter environmental white paper outlining its achievements over the last decade.

The report, published by the Information Office of the State Council to coincide with World Environment Day, aims “to let people in other countries have a better understanding about the situation of environmental protection in China,” says the foreword. Beijing has not published such a report since 1996.

In the report, China acknowledges the difficulties of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. “Many environmental problems that have haunted developed countries in different phases of their 100-year-long industrialisation have occurred in China all at the same time,” it says.

“Prevention and control of industrial pollution is the focal point of China’s environmental protection endeavors,” says the report.

China’s Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) programme is followed by some 1.46 million construction projects across China. Environmental protection expenditure amounted to RMB1.2 trillion (US$153 billion) of the RMB27 trillion invested in construction projects since 1996, the report says, and as a result of the EIA programme, the figure is rising “year by year”.

“Thanks to the implementation of the EIA system, industrial projects are reporting ‘increase in output instead of pollution’ or ‘increase in output with decrease in pollution’,” the report says.

Pollution per unit GDP in China 2004 has dropped since 1995 – industrial SO2 is down 42% on 1995 levels, industrial smoke down by 55% and industrial dust reduced by 39%. Energy consumption per RMB10,000-worth of GDP in 2004 declined by 45% from 1990, saving 700 million tons of standard coal in total. The coal consumption for generating thermal power, the comparable energy consumption for each ton of steel and the comprehensive energy consumption for cement declined by 11.2%, 29.6% and 21.9%, respectively.

Eight industries that consumed large amounts of resources and caused serious environmental pollution, (those producing iron and steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, iron alloy, calcium carbide, coking, saponin and chromic salt) were rectified, and the construction of over 1,900 projects was either stopped or postponed. In 2005, over 2,600 enterprises in the iron and steel, cement, iron alloy, coking, paper-making and textile printing and dyeing industries were closed down for having caused serious environmental pollution and violated industrial policies.

China has introduced tax policies to pass on costs of renewable energy to consumers; meanwhile tax rebate policies for exported products, including iron and steel, electrolytic aluminum and iron alloy, have been annulled or reduced in group form. To promote “rational development and utilisation of resources,” the report says “the standards of tax collected on the production of coal, crude oil, and natural gas will be raised in steps in the future in order to protect mineral resources and promote the rational development and utilization of resources.”

The government also highlights its cooperation on the international environment stage: it has signed 50 international conventions on environmental protection (which include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer), and has been active in performing the obligations stipulated in these conventions.

The report concludes: “The importance of protecting the global environment has become the common understanding of people all over the world. China is a big, responsible developing country. Solving China’s environmental problems is in keeping with China’s development goals. It will contribute to the wellbeing of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, and it is also an important manifestation of the shared interest of mankind. The Chinese government and the Chinese people will join all other governments and peoples in the world in protecting the Earth – our beautiful home.”

Contents of Environmental Protection in China 1996-2005

I. Environmental Protection Legislation and System

II. Prevention and Control of Industrial Pollution

III. Pollution Control in Key Regions

IV. Protection of the Urban Environment

V. Protection of the Rural Environment

VI. Ecological Protection and Construction

VII. Economic Policy and Investment Concerning the Environment

VIII. Environmental Impact Assessment

IX. Environmental Science and Technology, Industry and Public Participation

X. International Cooperation in Environmental Protection

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