New China pollution targets inadequate
Greenpeace: China needs to do more than target a few pollutants if it's serious about cleaning its air and water.
Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 01:49 PM
SERIOUS SMOG: Dust laden skies loom over traffic in Beijing, China, March 2010. The country is attempting to decrease pollution by setting new standards for industries that pollute heavily. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
BEIJING — Environmental group Greenpeace on Jan. 17. praised China for setting new pollution targets but said the measures fell well short of what was needed to curb the country's world-beating carbon emissions.
The environmental protection ministry said late last week it had added nitrogen oxide and ammonia nitrogen to a list of major pollutants that it wants reduced by 1.5 percent this year, according to state media.
The nitrogen compounds join chemical oxygen demand — a measure of water contamination — and sulphur dioxide on the list of reduction targets set by Beijing.
"Given the urgency of the environmental crisis in China, it's just not enough to have only those four pollutants as the targets," Greenpeace China climate and energy campaign manager Yang Ailun told AFP.
To achieve the targets, authorities will crack down on heavily-polluting industries such as paper-making, textiles, leather and chemicals and make greater efforts to control vehicle emissions, the ministry said.
It will also invest in wastewater treatment plants and develop technologies to reduce factory emissions.
Yang said the government needed to set up an effective monitoring system to ensure the measures were carried out — and take swift action against violators.
China — which in November admitted it is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter — has some of the world's worst air pollution after rapid growth over the past 30 years triggered widespread environmental damage.
The country has invested billions of dollars to clean up its environment but has so far refused to cut emissions outright, saying doing so would unfairly hurt its economic development.
China instead pledged last year to slow the growth in its emissions by reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 — essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency.
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition