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Wen sets environment protection goals
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-19 06:18

Premier Wen Jiabao has called on the nation to view environment protection from a strategic perspective while warning of a worsening ecological situation in some regions.

Targets set for economic growth were easily met in the country's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) but major environment protection objectives set for the same period were not achieved, and new problems have emerged, said Wen at a two-day national conference on environmental protection that ended in Beijing yesterday.

It was the highest-level meeting on environment issues and is usually held only once during a premier's five-year term.

Of the 20 environmental goals set for the 10th Five-Year Plan, eight have not been achieved, the State Environmental Protection Agency said last week.

The unfulfilled goals include reducing discharges of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and industrial solid waste, and improving wastewater treatment.

Wen blamed "lack of awareness, insufficient planning, illogical industrial structure and a weak legal framework" for the severe environmental problems in some places.

According to the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), energy consumption per unit of GDP will be cut by 20 per cent, major pollutants reduced by 10 per cent and forest coverage rise to 20 per cent from 18.2 per cent.

To fulfil the targets, the government focus should be put on both environment protection and economic growth, and the latter should not be at the cost of the former.

Wen set priorities for environmental protection strengthening water conservation, controlling atmospheric and soil pollution, enhancing ecological protection, improving the economic structure and boosting the environmental technology and protection industry.

He vowed that environment protection would be a factor in assessing officials' performance.

He asked local governments to release information on energy consumption and pollutant emissions every six months, control emissions and step up environmental assessment of construction projects.

Protective policies on exploitation of resources should be implemented, and legal and supervisory systems should be established, he said.

An editorial published in today's People's Daily hails the conference as a "milestone in China's environmental protection history."

Xinhua- China Daily

(China Daily 04/19/2006 page1)