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Environment awareness
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-04 11:38

Environmental protection should not only be of concern to the government, but also of every individual. The success of a policy depends on public awareness.

A survey on Chinese people's awareness of environmental protection published yesterday suggests that much still needs to be done. The survey jointly conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the China Environmental Awareness Program showed that 89.6 percent of the respondents paid attention to the conservation of water, electricity and gas in their daily life, but only 22.1 percent intentionally avoided using plastic bags when shopping.

The fact that only 27.8 percent of the respondents knew about biodiversity sends a message that the general public's knowledge about environmental protection is still at an initial stage.

Many may have practiced thrift in the use of electricity, water and gas in their daily life but for most it is just a knee jerk reaction to rising prices rather than out of concern for the deteriorating environment.

This suggests that the pricing mechanism is still an effective leverage to push more and more residents to pay attention to the environment. But it should not be the only way, and residents should be told why such prices are raised, and what impact their saving of water, electricity and gas will have on the environment and ecological balance.

That fact that 67.3 of the respondents were not satisfied with what most enterprises have done to protect the environment and prevent pollutants from being directly discharged into the air or water seems to coincide with the difficulties environmental watchdogs have met in their job to get enterprises to abide by environmental protection rules.

There is a mutual impact between what the government and enterprises have done in environmental protection and the degree of self-discipline on the part of individuals in making their own contributions.

A better job by both the government and enterprises will help raise the environmental awareness of individuals, who will most likely be willing to do their bit. Contribution from more individuals will certainly have an accumulative impact on our environment from a long-term point of view. If the situation is otherwise, even the enthusiasm of those individuals who are keen on doing their bit will be dampened.

Publicity and education are important to raise such awareness of the general public. But we believe that action on the part of the governments is even more important. The fact that more than 60 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with what their local governments have done in environmental protection points to their policies that are tilted in favor of economic growth rather than balanced development.

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