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Clean energy will help China go green

Updated: 2015-04-05 13:20
By Gao Yuan and Wang Chao (China Daily Europe)

Tough legislation and law enforcement will also address pollution problems

The environment was high on the agenda at this year's Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province, where scholars and government officials showed determination to tackle pollution.

Qin Dahe, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and former director of the Chinese National Meteorological Administration, says China has to adopt more clean energy sources to at least partially replace the fossil-fuel dominated energy structure of the country over the next decades.

 Clean energy will help China go green

A discussion on smog and health was held in Boao on March 27. Huang Yiming / China Daily

"China burned 4.1 billion metric tons of coal last year, more than other leading economies such as the United States. The extremely large amount of chemicals emitted from coal burning and other meteorological factors have triggered the haze."

"Improving air quality is not only the responsibility of the government, but all stakeholders must work together to curb excess emissions and stop the smog," Qin says, calling for closer cooperation among governments, enterprises and the public.

Last year, the central government said the country's carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030 and then decline as more clean energies such as solar, wind and nuclear power, replace coal and oil.

Pollution is not just a headache for China, but for all fast developing countries. At the forum, officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa highlighted their efforts against pollution, and agreed to strengthen legal cooperation on environmental protection.

The BRICS countries face similar environmental challenges, including air pollution, carbon emissions and river water contamination in their regions, said Zhou Qiang, president of China's top court, during the forum.

Solving the problem requires tough legislation and vigorous law enforcement, along with enhanced communications within the BRICS group, Zhou said.

China has improved its legislation and encouraged residents and environmental associations to protect their rights in accordance with the nation's new Environmental Protection Law, which took effect on Jan 1, he said.

In a judicial interpretation issued by the top court in January, more NGOs can go to court on behalf of the public, and their financial burden in lawsuits are expected to ease.

More than 700 such organizations are now qualified to undertake environmental litigation, according to the top court.

"We'd like to handle civil cases and public-interest lawsuits on pollution, and hope the latest legislation has the teeth to curb illegal activity," Zhou said.

He said the law is a crucial part of pollution control, and stricter enforcement, along with the establishment of an environmental tribunal, will help restore the environment.

In 2014, 382 green tribunals were set up nationwide, and courts accepted 1,188 cases involving environmental pollution, a rise of 690 percent year-on-year, according to information released by the top court on March 28.

The tribunal's role in deterring and punishing polluters can be seen, but there is still a long way to go to restore the environment, which demands efforts from every walk of life, Zhou said.

He says the BRICS countries should share their judicial experience via the Internet.

Ricardo Lewandowski, from Brazil, said his country has created new laws and boosted public awareness about the problem, which no one cared about 20 years ago.

"On the Brazilian flag, green represents our forests, and blue represents the clean sky," he said, touting improvements in recent years.

As a huge continental country, however, it is not easy to protect the environment, he says, adding that illegal mining and other issues remain thorny, and prosecutions can be difficult.

Contact the writers through gaoyuan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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