The nation will reach a "turning point" this year in the battle to control
pollution, the top environment watchdog said yesterday.
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 years.
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.
the country installing more pollution control facilities and stepping up
economic restructuring and policy enforcement, there will be a further drop,"
"I'm confident that this year, the total pollutant discharges will reach a
turning point," Zhang said, without giving further details.
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 percent.
"Most of the new pollutant-control facilities were put into use last
December, so they will show an effect this year," said Zhang.
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 previous year.
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
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
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 objections.
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.