The fourth news conference of the news center of the 18th National Congress of CPC was held in Beijing on November 12, 2012. Mr. Zhou Shengxian, MEP Minister introduced China’s environmental protection work and answered questions from the reporters.
Zhou Shengxian said, CCCPC and the State Council have put environmental protection at a more important strategic position since the 16th National Congress of CPC. If using one sentence summarizing the work of this period, it would be "Important changes have taken place in environmental protection of China from awareness to practice".
Zhou Shengxian said, the environmental problems happened to developed countries over 100~200 years occurred to China in the past 30 years with China’s rapid development since the reform and opening up, showing structural, additive, compact and combined characteristics. Currently, environment is locally improved, however the overall situation has not been effectively controlled, the general situation is still serious and the pressures keep rising.
When talking about the "beautiful China", Zhou Shengxian said, there are many highlights in the Report of the 18th National Congress of CPC. One of them is facilitating the development of ecological civilization and buildup of a beautiful China. As a person working in the environmental protection field, I feel inspired. In my point of view, construction of a beautiful China is a new concept brought forth by the development of ecological civilization. Its core is to achieve the target of prosperous economy, good ecological environment and happy life of the general public via the development of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society following the requirements of ecological civilization. It is a challenging job and we can feel the responsibilities over our shoulder.
Zhou Shengxian pointed out that construction of a beautiful China is a systematic project and involves every aspect. The core issue is to correctly handle the relations between economic development and environmental protection. We shall change as quickly as possible the current situation that is focusing on economic growth while ignoring environmental protection, environmental protection lagging behind economic growth and relying heavily on administrative means to protect the environment. We shall integrate environmental protection into economic development. Talking environmental protection without economic development is climbing trees to catch fish. Achieving economic development without environmental protection is draining the pond to catch all the fish.
Zhou Shengxian said beautiful China has different objectives, contents and requirements in different periods. To facilitate the development of a beautiful China at present, we shall address the following three issues. First, make a good top design at the strategic level based on the requirements of ecological civilization. Second, make a good plan taking into consideration of the whole process of reproduction including production, circulation, distribution and consumption. And third, develop environment economic policy and environmental quality standards.
When talking about the issues relevant to the new path to environmental protection, Zhou Shengxian said, the guidelines of exploring the new path to environmental protection with unique characteristics of China are adhering to environmental protection in the process of development and achieving development while taking care of the environment, taking environmental capacity and resource carrying capacity as the basic prerequisite for development, making the environmental protection function fully in optimizing the economic growth to speed up the development of an environmental-friendly, energy-efficiency and resources-saving national economy system. It aims at establishing the following six systems: 1) macro strategy system for environmental protection suitable for China; 2) integrated and efficient pollution prevention and control system; 3) sound environmental quality assessment system; 4) well established system of laws, regulations, policies and standards for environmental protection; 5) well-developed environmental management and law enforcement supervision system; 6) public participation system
On the issue of energy saving and emission reduction, Zhou Shengxian said, two more pollutants, ammonia nitrogen and NOx, have been put in the total pollutant control list in the "12th Five-Year Plan" period. In 2011, NOx emissions went up compared with the year before. MEP has taken many measures to address the issue. First, seriously summarize the experiences and lessons of the "11th Five-Year Plan" period and further strengthening emission reduction through industrial restructuring. Second, promote emission reduction via pollution control projects. A group of large-scale emission reduction projects have been commenced, it is expected that new breakthrough will be made. Third, reduce emission through strict management and check the fulfillment of responsibility. Fourth, further improve the environmental economic policies, and integrate market mechanism into the energy saving and emission reduction work. To be specific, it makes sense that electricity generated from power units with denitrification devices prices 0.008 RMB per watt?hour higher than normal price. With these measures, the total discharge of the four pollutants began going down in the first 6 months of 2012. Among them, there was 2.11% reduction for COD discharge, 2.72% reduction for SO2 emission, 1.98% reduction for ammonia nitrogen and 0.24% reduction for NOx. Practice demonstrates that right economic policy is the right environmental policy. Any problem happened to environment, we shall seek reasons from economic policies. Therefore, we will employ more market mechanism in the future to address energy saving and emission reduction problems.
Talking about massive events triggered by environmental pollution, MEP Minister stressed that measures shall be taken in the following four areas: First, strengthen environmental impact assessment (EIS) strictly in line with related laws. Second, facilitate information disclosure and make public all EIS relevant information including the commitments of the governments at all levels to accept the public supervision. Third, further extend public participation and make special efforts to improve the public participation. Fourth, establish and improve social risk assessment mechanism and prevent environmental emergency from the source. The CCCPC and the State Council have clear requirements that social risk assessment shall be conducted for major construction projects. In the future, environmental protection department will actively cooperate with relevant leading organizations and spare no efforts to carry out social risks assessment. I believe that as long as these measures are implemented, there shall be less emergency accidents happen.