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NPC deputies focus on green development

Updated: 2013-03-16 17:29

National lawmakers attending the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, attached great importance to China's green development as the country tries to transform itself from an economy relying on resources and energy consumption to a sustainable one.

Ecological development is a natural choice for China to seek sustainable development as the country has the world's largest population, yet its resources are quite limited, said NPC deputy Yang Tianran, head of Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Central China's Hubei province.

"Over-emphasis on GDP growth will greatly harm the environment, and a high income without a good living environment cannot bring a happy life...When development is achieved at a price of environment degradation, development must give way to environmental protection, especially when China is on its way to an all-around well-off society after achieving the subsistence level," said Yang.

Enshi prefecture pursues a development mode of green prosperity and sustainable development, Yang said.

The forest coverage rate in Enshi prefecture is more than 70 percent, much higher than the national level of over 20 percent, according to Yang.

Enshi has attached great importance to the use of eco-friendly energy and the development of environmentally friendly industries, including tea and fruit planting, traditional Chinese medicine cultivation and tourism, Yang said. The industries combined account for almost 70 percent of the prefecture's economic output, Yang added.

While urban residents usually use natural gas, 500,000 households out of a total of 700,000 rural households in the prefecture use biogas and solar energy as fuel, meaning that the residents no longer need to cut trees for firewood.

The revenue from tourism and tourism-related industries, including hotels, transportation and tourist attractions, reached 13 billion yuan($2.09 billion)in 2012, according to Yang.

Zhang Qiong, deputy chief of Wufeng county of Hubei province, called for more government investment in and attention to the caring of saplings after plantings.

About 70 million mu (4.67 million hectares) of trees are planted every year around the country, but the national forest coverage rate is only 20 percent, indicating the low quality of tree planting, Zhang said.

She said her research shows more than 60 percent of the new forests in the country cannot survive because of inadequate follow-up care of saplings.

Only state-level forests, a small portion of the national total, received adequate follow-up care after planting.

She said inadequate follow-up care and management, such as replanting, fertilizing, weed removal and prevention of destructive lumbering, will hamper the country's efforts to build a "beautiful China" and seek ecological development.

Jin Hua, chairman of the environment and resources protection committee of the Jilin Provincial People's Congress, the local legislature, called for concrete measures to speed up the establishment of an ecological compensation mechanism to balance regional development.

Those areas that sacrifice the chance to develop its natural resources and economy for environmental protection should receive compensation from other areas that focus on economic development but damage the environment, Jin said.

Market mechanisms should be encouraged to play a bigger role in promoting the trade of the right to use resources and the right to discharge pollution and the right to emit carbon.