Coun­try will ‘de­clare war’ on pol­lu­tion, cut en­ergy use

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG QIAN wangqian@chi­

China will “de­clare war” in the bat­tle against pol­lu­tion, Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said on Thurs­day at the clos­ing of the Na­tional People’s Congress ses­sion.

His com­ments ex­plained his dec­la­ra­tion of China’s “war on smog” at the start of the an­nual par­lia­men­tary meet­ing last week, say­ing the govern­ment will come down with an “iron fist” against pol­lu­tion.

He vowed to give harsh pun­ish­ments to pol­luters and crack down on of­fi­cials who have been neg­li­gent in solv­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

Al­though tack­ling the is­sue still has a long way to go, he said the whole so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing the govern­ment, businesses and cit­i­zens, should work to­gether and con­sis­tently in the fight against pol­lu­tion.

“We can­not wait for wind or rain,” Li said.

He added that the coun­try has mon­i­tored PM 2.5, par­tic­u­late mat­ter of 2.5 mi­crom­e­ters or less, in 161 of the coun­try’s 660 cities and re­gions, which is the most ex­ten­sive scale of mon­i­tor­ing in a de­vel­op­ing econ­omy.

“Many people check the PM 2.5 read­ings when they get up in the morn­ing, which makes it a cru­cial is­sue for the pub­lic,” Li said.

PM 2.5 mon­i­tor­ing can­not only be a re­minder to the pub­lic to take pro­tec­tive mea­sures against pol­lu­tion, but also means of putting pres­sure on gov­ern­ments to act, Li said.

Li said the coun­try aims to cut en­ergy in­ten­sity by 3.9 per­cent this year to strengthen con­ser­va­tion and emis­sion re­duc­tion, which means the coun­try will cut coal con­sump­tion by 220 mil­lion met­ric tons.

Sci­en­tists found coal burn­ing to be a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to PM 2.5 pol­lu­tants.

En­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion has drawn high at­ten­tion among the coun­try’s leg­is­la­tors and po­lit­i­cal ad­vis­ers in the just-closed two ses­sions.

A to­tal of 596 pro­pos­als were sub­mit­ted to the Chi­nese People’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence Na­tional Com­mit­tee this year on en­vi­ron­ment is­sues, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

Wang Xiangchao, a re­searcher at the Shang­hai In­sti­tute of Op­tics and Fine Me­chan­ics un­der the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences and a CPPCC mem­ber, called for sci­en­tists to de­velop more eco­nom­i­cal and ef­fec­tive air pu­ri­fiers.

Xie Chaohua, an­other CPPCC mem­ber, pro­posed that a smog sub­sidy should be given to out­door work­ers.

While em­pha­siz­ing the de­ci­sion to tackle pol­lu­tion, Li said is­sues in­volv­ing people’s liveli­hoods will be key work this year for the cen­tral govern­ment. He vowed to build a sound so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem for the pub­lic, in­clud­ing com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion, med­i­cal in­sur­ance and pen­sions.

More than 800 mil­lion people across the coun­try are cov­ered by the pen­sion sys­tem, Li said.

He said this year the govern­ment will grad­u­ally en­hance pen­sion lev­els and merge the med­i­cal in­sur­ance sys­tems in ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas.

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