China gets tougher about protecting environment

Updated: 2010-05-29 11:56
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BEIJING - Provincial governments and key enterprises which fail to realize the year's missions in environmental protection and emission cut will be punished as the Chinese central government is taking a tougher stance towards improving the country's environment.

"Evaluation reports will be made public at the end of this year. Those companies which fail will be penalized and those which excel will be rewarded," deputy minister Xie Zhenhua of the National Development and Reform Commission told the ongoing 13th China Beijing International High-tech Expo Friday.

Calling 2010 "a year of decisive battles" for China to push forward energy conservation and reduce emissions, Xie said that the per-unit energy consumption of several energy-consuming industries had reversed the declining momentum to jump by a large margin in the first quarter, making it difficult for China to achieve the environment protection targets set for the 11th five-year period (2006-10).

"This year ends the current five-year planning period and paves the way for the country's development for the next five years. The first-quarter rise in per-unit energy consumption has exerted much pressure on the rest of the year," said Xie.

Chinese government planned in 2006 to axe the country's energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent by 2010. The past four years saw the figure decline by 14.8 percent.

Over the first three months, six industries: power generation, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, building materials, petro-chemicals and chemicals reported a rise of 3.2 percent in the per-unit energy consumption, NDRC statistics showed.

Moreover, twelve of the country's 31 province-level regions reported a rise in this index, Xie said, without revealing the specifics.

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But he warned that a punitive price for electricity would be imposed on companies whose per-unit energy consumption exceeded national and local benchmarks.

Xie said China would deepen the pricing reform for energy and resources this year, adjust the pricing for natural gas and electricity for residential use.

New projects attempting to expand the productivity in highly-polluting industries would be banned this year. Unauthorized production would be closed down, said Xie.

Xie reiterated that China would honor its commitment at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference or the Copenhagen Summit to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per-unit GDP by 40 percent to 45 percent from the 2005 level by 2020.

The exposition opened on Thursday and will last one week. It has attracted more than 70 government and business delegations from 11 international organizations and 20 countries.