A man with the
local environmental protection department collects sample from the Lanzhou
section of the Yellow River in Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu
province November 21, 2006. The section of the Yellow
River turned red and the cause of the pollution, covering a perimeter of
two kilometers, is under investigation, local media reported.
The relentless effort to increase the country's gross domestic product (GDP)
led to an increase in the discharge of major pollutants in the first half of
this year, according to the country's leading environmental watchdog.
The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) announced the findings
in a summary of its evaluation of the country's overall environment, which the
organization posted on its website. The summary covers activity in the first
half and third quarter.
The quality of the country's overall environment remained unchanged or
deteriorated in some areas, the report said.
As the country notched up a GDP growth rate of 10.9 per cent in the first
half of the year, it also generated larger volumes major pollutants, the release
For example, China produced more than 12 billion tons of industrial
waste-water in the first half, up 2.4 per cent from the same period last year.
The chemical oxygen demand (COD), a major index of water pollution, increased
by 3.7 per cent, while emissions of sulphur dioxide increased by 4.2 per cent in
the first half.
Acid rain, which already affects almost one third of the nation's territory,
remained unchecked. The report singled out East China's Zhejiang Province, where
nearly all rain in the cities monitored for pollution was acidic.
The report attributed the increasing volume of pollution to the country's
industrial structure. It said that food-processing, paper-making and chemical
plants accounted for more than 80 per cent of the increase in COD.
The report also attacked some local governments, saying that only 30 per cent
to 40 per cent of public projects had undergone environmental evaluations before
The release's findings bode ill for the country's goal of reducing energy
consumption per unit of GDP by 20 per cent, and the discharge of key pollutants
by 10 per cent within the time frame of the 11th five-year plan (2006-10).
The country has already failed to reach some of the major environmental
objectives contained the 10th plan (2001-05).
In September, the SEPA announced that pollution had inflicted economic losses
of 511.8 billion yuan (US$ 64 billion) on the country in 2004, representing
about 3 per cent of the GDP that year.
"It is almost impossible to reduce energy consumption within a short period
while experiencing such a high economic growth rate," Lu Zhongwu, an expert at
the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told China Daily at a meeting on November
Coal output grew by 12.8 per cent in the first half of this year. Coal-fired
power plants emit greenhouse gases.
Lu called for more oversight of the high GDP growth goals set by local
governments. He said some local officials seem to place economic growth ahead of
(China Daily 11/22/2006 page3)