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Wen sets environment protection goals
Latest Updated by 2006-04-20 10:32:29
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks at the national conference on environmental protection held on April 18, 2006. (Xinhua Photo)

"We cannot just sit for discussions behind the closed door while the sandy weather has raged outside for more than ten days," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced at a national conference on environmental protection.

"Besides climatic factors, it mirrors the critical environmental situation we are facing," Wen said of Beijing being enveloped in yellow dust.

While addressing the conference held from Monday to Tuesday, Wen said China should be on high alert to fight against worsening environmental pollution and ecological deterioration in some regions, and environmental protection should be given a higher priority in the drive for national modernization.

The major targets of environmental protection during the recently ended tenth Five-Year Plan (2000-2005) were not achieved as scheduled, and new problems have emerged, he said.

China had set a target of cutting discharges of sulphur dioxide by 10 percent in 2000-2005. It set the same target for reducing emissions of carbon monoxide, but only managed a 2 percent cut, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

"Lack of awareness, insufficient planning, and a weak legal framework can be blamed for the severe environmental pollution in the country," Wen noted.

According to the recently adopted 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010), energy consumption in terms of per capita GDP growth should be cut by 20 percent, major pollutants should drop by 10 percent and forest coverage should rise to 20 percent from 18.2 percent, he said.

The Premier has set out four priorities for current and future environmental protection. These include strengthening water conservation, controlling atmosphere and soil pollution, enhancing protection of the national ecology, re-adjusting the economic structure and boosting the environmental technology and protection industry.

SEPA has reported 45 other pollution accidents in the two and a half months after the Songhua River spill last November which had threatened water supplies of four million residents in the city of Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

Another accident listed by the administration was a cadmium spill along the Beijiang River in South China's Guangdong province that also threatened the local drinking and agricultural water supplies.

Other major water pollution incidents included chemical spills along Northeast China's Hun River, central China's Hunan's Xiangjiang River, and a diesel spill along the Yellow River in Henan Province, as well as an oil spill in Ganjiang River in central China's Jiangxi Province.

Wen ordered local governments on Monday to release information on energy consumption and pollutant emissions every six months, set plans to control emissions and step up environmental assessment of construction projects.

Protective policies on the exploitation of resources should be carried out and legal and supervisory systems established, acknowledged Wen, who also urged localities to allocate more money and raise public awareness of environmental protection.

Editor: Wing

By: Li Xing, Guo Likun Source: China View website
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