Eco-restora­tion big part of new 5-year guide­lines

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUE and HU YONGQI in Bei­jing

China will com­bine ef­forts in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and eco­log­i­cal restora­tion to en­sure greener, more sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s newly ap­proved guide­line for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, part of the 13th FiveYear Plan (2016-20).

The guide­line, re­leased on Wed­nes­day, was ap­proved at the State Coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing, presided over by Premier Li Ke­qiang on Tues­day.

“We are com­mit­ted to a devel­op­ment path­way that de­liv­ers eco­nomic progress and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ments side by side,” Li said.

Of­fi­cials said the new guide­lines also ad­here to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s guid­ance that pro­tect­ing and im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment is tan­ta­mount to main­tain­ing and de­vel­op­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“We should stay com­mit­ted to the ba­sic State pol­icy of conserving re­sources, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment like we pro­tect our eyes, treating the en­vi­ron­ment like it is our lives,” Xi has said.

China ex­ceeded its goal in en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion for the 12th Five-Year Plan (201115), with car­bon in­ten­sity drop­ping by 20 per­cent, a ma­jor contribution to world­wide ef­forts against cli­mate change, of­fi­cials said.

The new guide­line makes it clear that equally strong ef­forts are re­quired both in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion as well as eco­log­i­cal restora­tion, stress­ing ef­forts to re­store na­ture while min­i­miz­ing in­dus­trial dis­rup­tions to the en­vi­ron­ment, of­fi­cials said.

The goal is to achieve a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way of liv­ing, con­sid­er­able re­duc­tion in ma­jor pol­lu­tant emis­sions and a sounder eco­log­i­cal sys­tem by 2020. Li has pointed out that a good en­vi­ron­ment is an in­dis­pens­able part in im­prov­ing peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards, of­fi­cials said.

The guide­lines say red lines will be drawn on emis­sion con­trols, and the govern­ment will en­cour­age the devel­op­ment of en­ergy-ef­fi­cient in­dus­tries. It also gives pri­or­ity to ef­forts to pro­tect the qual­ity of the air, wa­ter and soil in the next five years. Projects to con­trol in­dus­trial pol­lu­tants will be im­ple­mented.

The govern­ment will also im­pose stricter and more com­pre­hen­sive con­trols on heavy met­als, haz­ardous waste and poi­sonous chem­i­cals.

We should stay com­mit­ted to the ba­sic State pol­icy of conserving re­sources.”

In­sti­tu­tional in­no­va­tion and mod­ern reg­u­la­tory mea­sures in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and eco­log­i­cal restora­tion are also re­quired, ac­cord­ing to the new guide­line. In­vest­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion from lo­cal gov­ern­ments as well as busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties will be wel­comed and the govern­ment plans to of­fer them more di­ver­si­fied fi­nanc­ing chan­nels.

All mea­sures are de­signed to im­prove the public’s health and the sus­tain­able use of re­sources, said Ma Jun, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Public & En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bei­jing.

The guide­line casts a greater fo­cus on eco­log­i­cal restora­tion by con­trol­ling more types of pol­lu­tants than be­fore, us­ing a greater va­ri­ety of meth­ods, such as is­su­ing pol­lu­tion per­mits, Ma said.

“These mea­sures will be help­ful to pro­vide clean air, wa­ter and un­spoiled soil,” Ma said, adding that the govern­ment should im­prove in­for­ma­tion dis­clo­sure and transparency, which will put pol­luters un­der a spot­light.

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhangyue@chi­nadaily.

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