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Key Measures for Accelerating the Transformation of Economic Development Mode—MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian Interpretes the "National 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection"

The National "12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection" has attracted wide attention since its release. What objectives and policy measures are put forward by the Plan and how to carry them out? To get answers of the questions, a journalist interviewed with MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian.
Journalist: People have some understanding about the Outline of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development", what is special significance of implementing the National "12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection?
Minister Zhou Shengxian: The implementation of the Plan is an important measure for carrying out the outlook on scientific development and accelerating the transformation of economic development mode. The theme of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development" is scientific development. The main line of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development" is acceleration of development mode and facilitating strategic adjustment of economic structure. The National "12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection" (hereinafter referred to as the Plan) is an important component of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development". The implementation of the Plan, development of resource-saving and environment-friendly society and uplifting ecological civilization is not only a national environmental protection strategy, but also an important measure for supporting scientific development and facilitating transformation of economic development mode. It has great significance in achieving the strategic objectives of the "12th Five-Year Plan" period.
The implementation of the Plan is sound practice of carrying out the strategy of "adhering to environmental protection during development and development during environmental protection and actively exploring new path to environmental protection". To implement the Plan, we must handle the relations among economic development, resource conservation and environmental protection in a correct way; take environment and resource carrying capacity as the preconditions, give play to the role of environmental protection in optimizing economic development and guiding and facilitating transformation of economic development mode; adhere to environmental protection during development and development during environmental protection; actively explore new path to environmental protection that is small in lost, sound in benefits, low in emissions and sustainable in development; facilitate the transformation of economic development and accelerate the development of national economic system that saves resources and is environment-friendly.
Journalist: Environmental protection in China has made remarkable achievements during the"11th Five-Year Plan" period. However, the Plan points out that current pressure on environmental protection is still increasing. How should we look at current environmental situation?
Minister Zhou Shengxian: The economy of our country has been under rapid development and environmental protection under good development during the "11th Five-Year Plan" period. CCCPC and the State Council take environmental protection at more important position and put forward the strategic tasks of developing ecological civilization and resource-saving and environment-friendly society. The role of environment optimizing economic development gradually emerges. The role of environmental protection in facilitating comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of economy and society has enjoyed significant enhancement. The reduction of discharge of major pollutants is taken as a compulsory indicator for economic and social development and prevention & control of pollution as well as reduction of major pollutants have made significant achievements.
We must clearly understand that the "12th Five-Years" is key period for our country to develop Xiaokang society and the important time for deepening reform & opening up and accelerating the transformation of economic development mode. At present, the international situation is complex and changeable, the task for domestic reform and development is hard and onerous. In environmental protection field, the old environmental problems left in the past years have not been addressed with continual emergence of new problems due to rapid development.
Internationally, the world is under great development, reform and adjustment. Peace, development and cooperation are still current trend. There is further development of global polarization and economic globalization with fiercer competition of comprehensive national strength; new changes have taken place in world economic and political pattern. However, global economic growth is slow down, global demand structure has obvious change, the competition centering market, resources, talents, technology and standards becomes fiercer, global issues such as climate change and energy and resource security, grain security are more preeminent.
In China, our country is at the stage of rapid industrialization and urbanization. It is expected that the industrialization of most regions of our country will shift from mid term to late stage in the "12th Five-Year Plan" period; urbanization rate will go beyond 50%. Meanwhile, the problems such as low economic restructuring, increasing resource and environment constraints and unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustained problems are still preeminent. At present, eco environment protection in our country lags behind, the level of prevention and control of environment pollution is still relatively low, environment supervision system is not perfect. This is mainly reflected by the fact of still big discharge amount of pollutants, higher pressure on environmental quality, interaction of new and old environmental issues, lagging behind of rural environmental infrastructure, insufficient supply of basic public environmental services, nuclear and radiation safety supervision capacity in need of enhancement and increasing pressure of global environment issues such as biodiversity conservation. In general, the overall environment degradation has not been not under effective control with improvement in some regions, the situation is still grave with increasing pressure.
Journalist: What are the objectives of the National "12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection? What are the differences compared with the National "11th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection? 
Minister Zhou Shengxian: The main targets of environmental protection during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period are the followings: significant reduction of total discharge of major pollutants; effective guarantee of environment safety of urban-rural drinking water source areas with great improvement of water quality; effective control of heavy metals pollution; remarkable achievements in prevention and control of the pollution by POPs, hazardous chemicals and waste; improvement of both construction and operation of urban basic environment infrastructure; reverse of degradation trend of eco environment; clear enhancement of the capacity in supervision on nuclear and radiation safety; further improvement of nuclear and radiation safety and environment supervision system.
The Plan identifies 7 main indicators including four major pollutants such as COD, ammonia nitrogen, SO2 and NOx, 2 surface water environmental quality indicators and 1 ambient environmental quality indicator. There are more compulsory indicators, higher pressure on emission reduction and higher requirement for good environmental quality compared with the "11th Five-Year Plan" period.
Journalist: The Plan for the first time includes the text on development of basic public environment service system, how do we understanding its significance?
Minister Zhou Shengxian: Vice Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that basic environmental quality is a kind of public goods and a public service that our government must ensure at the Seventh National Conference on Environmental protection. The Plan reflects this requirement.
At present, the capacity of our country in providing basic environment public services is not sufficient and level is not high and cannot meet basic rising environmental requirements of the public. With economic and social development and great efforts of our country in facilitating equal basic public services, basic environment public services is gradually put on important agenda and included in basic national public services. Therefore, in the "12th Five-Years", we will raise our capacity and level in basic public environment services to adapt new situation of development of national economy and society, meet new public expectations and give full play of the role of serving the public welfare.
The Outline of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development takes construction of environmental infrastructure and development of environment supervision and so on as the focus of basic public services in the "12th Five-Year Plan" period. It puts forward the target of "each county having the capacity in environment-friendly treatment of sewage and garbage as well as environment monitoring; ensuring the safety of urban-rural drinking water source areas", this is the major breakthrough in both ideas and policies on environmental protection and improvement and further development of basic public service system.
The National "12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection" takes "improvement of basic public environmental service system" as a major task. With measures such as facilitating coordinated development of environmental protection among regions, improving rural environmental protection, enhancing the capacity in environment supervision, China will reduce the differences in basic public environment services among different regions and between cities and countryside such as environment-friendly treatment of sewage and garbage as well as environment monitoring and assessment; ensure the safety of urban-rural drinking water source areas so that all people regardless of their geographical location, nation, gender and income difference will get basically equal basic public environmental services that is suitable to economic and social development level.
Journalist: The cadmium pollution in the Longjiang River in Guangxi not long ago attracted social attention. The Plan for the first time takes prevention of environment risks as one of the four big tasks. Would you please introduce relevant background and specific measures.
Minister Zhou Shengxian: At present, our country enters the period with emerging environmental risks and frequent environmental pollution accidents. The environmental problems occurred in different stages of industrialization of the past 100-200 years of developed countries have concentrated occurrence in our country. The past environmental problems left in the past have not been totally addressed while new environmental problems come one after another. Meanwhile, the capacity of our country in environmental management soft and hardware far lags behind social and economic development level. The public will be more sensitive in the period of concentrated appearance of several kinds of social contradictions, environment risks may evolve from local problem to general problem.
In view of this situation, the Plan for the first time takes enhancement of prevention and control of environment risks of key regions and safeguarding environment safety as a strategic task. It aims at improving systems and policies, prevention, early warning, response, treatment and restoration systems and addressing the environment safety issues during industrialization process.
1) Strengthen the development of basic system for preventing environment risks. China will carry out national investigation and assessment on environment risks, deepen the measures for management of environment risks, strengthen the foundation for management of environment risks and improve the joint prevention and control system. 2) Take heavy metals, chemicals and so on as the focuses for prevention and control of environmental risks. We will strengthen prevention and control of heavy metals pollution in key industries and regions; make more efforts in phasing out of toxic and hazardous chemicals, make strict environment supervision on chemicals and intensify prevention and control of chemical risks. 3) Enhance nuclear and radiation safety work in an all round way. We will vigorously improve nuclear and radiation safety level, raise the safety of applying nuclear energy and technologies, and enhance supervision on nuclear and radiation safety and prevention and control of radioactive pollution. 4) Vigorously facilitate treatment and disposal of solid wastes in order to prevent environmental risks of hazardous wastes. We will facilitate prevention and control of hazardous waste pollution in an all round way, make more efforts in prevention and control of pollution by industrial solid wastes, and raise the rate of disposing garbage.

 

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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