China gets tough on environmental targets
                 English.news.cn | 2013-12-25 21:51:44 | Editor: An

BEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- China Wednesday promised to adopt "the strictest" environment and energy policies as it has lagged behind in terms of four binding environmental targets set for 2015.

The four targets are for energy intensity, carbon dioxide emissions, rationalization of energy consumption and nitrogen oxide emissions, according to a mid-term evaluation report on the implementation of the 12th five-year development plan (2011-2015).

The report was submitted to the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

In 2011 and 2012, the first two years of the plan, China's energy intensity, or energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), only dropped 5.54 percent. The target is a 16 percent reduction from 2010 to 2015.

The five-year plan aims to reduce the carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP, by 17 percent from 2010 to 2015. In the first two years, it was only reduced by 6.6 percent.

The country also failed to gain a substantial increase in non-fossil energy in the first two years.

In 2012, non-fossil energy accounted for 9.4 percent of China's total energy consumption, only up 0.8 percentage points from 2010. The target is 11.4 percent by 2015.

The emission of nitrogen oxides in 2011 and 2012, which closely affects air quality, increased by 2.82 percent from 2010. The target seeks to reduce 10 percent from 2010 to 2015.

In 2011 and 2012, economic growth was faster than expected. The country did not move fast enough in reforming its industries and increasing use of green energy, while a number of enterprises were slow at cutting pollution, said Xu Shaoshi, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), when briefing lawmakers about the report.

The report describes the issues as "grave" with pollution spreading and damage worse and lasting longer in the long term.

Citing the air pollution, the reports says about 60 percent of Chinese cities falls below the standard.

"China's water safety is under threats," Xu said. Three major indicators of water quality -- chemical oxygen demand, phosphorus and nitrogen -- remain high in major water bodies.

Soil quality has deteriorated and pollution of some farmland has been extreme, he added.

"China will adopt the strictest ever energy conservation and environmental protection policies," Xu said.

In areas where energy consumption has grown out of control and conservation measures lag behind, the central government will not approve any new energy intensive projects, according to the report.

For areas which fail to finish their annual task of cutting pollution, environment authorities will cut their quotas of industrial and construction projects.

"We would like to deploy more legal and economic means," Xu said.

A consumption tax on energy intensive, high polluting industrial products will be imposed and resource tax expanded to all natural resources, including air and water.

The government will pay a higher price for "eco-friendly" electricity generated by thermal power plants that install facilities to reduce sulfur dioxide, and ban power companies from selling cheap electricity to energy intensive enterprises.

GOOD NEWS

The five-year plan lists 24 economic and social development targets and most of them have progressed smoothly, along with several other environmental targets, Xu said.

By 2012, forests in China increased by 7.5 million hectares and the volume of forests increased by 600 million cubic meters, realizing the 2015 target in advance.

The consumption of water per unit of industrial value added fell by 20 percent from 2010 to 2012. The target is a 30-percent drop by 2015.

The emission of three major pollutants, COD, sulfur dioxide and ammoniacal nitrogen, reduced notably in 2011 and 2012.

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