| Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers the government work report during the opening meeting of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2013. (Xinhua/Liu Jiansheng)
BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stressed Tuesday that the government should adopt effective measures to prevent and control pollution in response to people's expectations of having a good living environment.
The government should resolve to solve the problems of serious air, water, and soil pollution that affect the people's vital interests, improve environmental quality, and safeguard people's health, Wen said while delivering a government work report at the annual session of the National People's Congress.
"We should give the people hope through our concrete action," he told almost 3,000 legislators in the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
It is Wen's last government work report to the country's top legislature as the NPC deputies are expected to decide on a new premier, vice premiers and cabinet, as well as elect new president and vice president for the next five years.
The government should greatly strengthen ecological improvement and environmental protection, as the state of the ecological environment affects the level of people's wellbeing and also posterity and the future of the nation, he said.
"We should adhere to the basic state policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment and endeavor to promote green, circular, and low-carbon development," he said.
The government should greatly boost the conservation and reuse of energy and resources, give priority to saving energy in industry, transportation and construction and in public institutions, restrict total energy consumption, and reduce energy and materials consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, he said.
The government should also speed up adjusting the economic structure and distribution and upgrading related standards, practices, and laws and regulations, he added.
Actually, China has made steady progress in conserving energy, reducing emissions and protecting the environment.
Over the past five years, China has closed a number of backward production facilities, including iron works with a total output capacity of 117 million tonnes, steel mills with a capacity of 78 million tonnes and cement plants with a capacity of 775 million tones, according to Wen's report.
In addition, the country's daily urban sewage treatment capacity increased by 46 million tones, the energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 17.2 percent, the total chemical oxygen demand fell by 15.7 percent, the total sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 17.5 percent, and the air quality index for monitoring fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, was added.
China has achieved rapid economic growth over the past three decades, but at the cost of environment and resources. Heavy pollution is overshadowing the world's second largest economy that endeavors to build a "beautiful China," as proposed by Chinese President Hu Jintao last November.
The country has also witnessed a string of "mass incidents" and even violent protests due to environmental woes over recent years, prompting the government to seek to keep a balance between economic growth and environmental protection.
"Premier Wen's requirement for concrete action signals that the government has already noticed the public's appeal for a beautiful environment," said NPC deputy Huang Zuoxing from east China's Zhejiang Province, who is chief engineer of the Jiangnan Holding Group.
"I hope the government can resolutely ban the approval of heavily-polluting industrial projects in the future," he said.
NPC deputy Luo Shenglian, vice president of Nanchang Hangkong (Aerospace) University, said the most urgent "concrete action" for the government now is to launch a general overhaul of the country's pollution situation and make clear the scope and extent of pollution.
"Although everyone is talking about controlling pollution now, there has nevertheless been no basic statistics for reference in this regard," he said.