CHINA / National

Survey reveals confusion on environmental issues
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-01 06:02

Most people feel at loss when confronted by seemingly insurmountable environmental problems, according to a survey published yesterday.

Conducted by the China Environment Culture Promotion Association (CECPA), the survey focuses on public awareness of environmental protection.

Ma Ning, secretary-in-chief of CECPA, said the association questioned 3,777 people from 20 cities, towns and villages in seven parts of China.

On a basis of 100 marks, the average final score given by those who took part is 68.05, which is far from satisfying, he said.

People's concern for the environment has seen a steady rise with citizens concerned about everything from the government's environmental policies to particular environmental incidents, said Ma.

More than 80 per cent said they are "very concerned" about environmental protection, garbage disposal and sewage processing.

However most people lacked a clear view on what environmental issues are, simply putting them as "environmental protection," Ma said.

"This is partly due to the increasing number of environmental accidents which have greatly affected people's lives," he added.

"And some of the media coverage, which sometimes exaggerates the negative side of such accidents, also misleads the public."

The lack of public enthusiasm for environmental activities, as well as a lack of mechanisms to boost enthusiasm is also worrying, said Ma.

Only 6 per cent of respondents had taken part in environmental protection activities in the last three months, while more than 80 per cent said they "rarely" take part in such activities.

More than 40 per cent said they would not decide what they could do until they actually faced an environmental activity, which shows a lack of understanding and little sense of participation, said Ma.

"Though people's right to participate environmental supervision is guaranteed by law, they don't know how to use the right," he said.

"We hope our survey can give the government a push towards producing a regulation specifying how and when people should use this right," he added.

(China Daily 06/01/2006 page2)