U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- China's premier says local officials will be
held accountable for pollution problems after the country failed to
meet official environmental goals, state media reported.
Wen Jiabao said officials will have to report on energy
consumption and emissions every six months in a new initiative that
aims to cut energy consumption by 20 percent, reduce major pollutants
by 10 percent and increase forest coverage from 18.2 percent to 20
percent by 2010, the China Daily newspaper said.
Wen's comments reflect a new push by the government to balance the
headlong pursuit of economic growth with environmental and social
goals. It's an ambitious shift after decades of breakneck
development, and the government has yet to give its environmental
watchdog real power to punish violations.
Wen said environmental protection will be used in assessing
officials' job performance after China failed to meet eight of 20
targets set five years ago for such things as cutting air pollution
and improving water quality, the paper said.
The failure was due to "lack of awareness, insufficient planning,
illogical industrial structure and a weak legal framework," Wen was
quoted as saying at a two-day environment conference in Beijing.
A news report quoted the chief environmental regulator as saying
China has suffered 76 environmental accidents, or one every two days,
since a toxic river spill in November in China's northeast forced a
major city to shut down its drinking water system.
Most incidents involved toxic pollutants released into rivers or
the air, said Zhou Shengxian, head of the State Environmental
Protection Administration, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.
"If environmental protection efforts continue to lag behind
economic growth, pollution will become even more rampant," Zhou was
quoted as saying after attending the Beijing conference.
The meeting coincided with some of the worst air pollution to hit
Beijing in years. Officials seeded clouds in an effort to clear the
air after a dust storm described as the worst in five years covered
the city in yellow grit.
"We cannot just sit for discussions behind the closed door while
the sandy weather has raged outside for more than 10 days," the
People's Daily newspaper quoted Wen as saying. "Besides climatic
factors, it mirrors the critical environmental situation we are
China's government has been replanting "green belts" of trees
throughout the north in an effort to trap the dust after decades when
the storms worsened amid heavy tree-cutting.
Between 2000-2005, China failed to meet goals in cutting emissions
of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, improving wastewater treatment
and limiting industrial solid waste discharges, the China Daily said.
The government says some 340 million people in rural China lack
access to water considered clean enough to drink.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.