After special environmental inspections by the top environment watchdog exposed some serious issues, seven provincial-level governments including Beijing and Shanghai recently made public their rectification plans. Most of them have set up a leading group with their top leader acting as the head to supervise the rectification work, and adopted a list system that sets out concrete responsibilities, remedial measures, specific targets and deadlines.
In its rectification program, for instance, Beijing published a list of 47 detailed tasks, including trying to control the intensity of PM2.5 in the atmosphere within 60 micrograms per cubic meter this year and reducing the PM2.5 intensity by 30 percent by 2020 from the 2015 level. It also vowed to keep its city-wide polluted water treatment ratio above 95 percent by the end of 2020.
Central China’s Hubei province vowed to shut down all coal producers within two years.
Such action lists are a list of responsibilities. On the environment issue, local governments’ environmental protection programs are not just a response to the top environment watchdog’s orders, they are a solemn commitment to the public that they will correct their past wrongdoings in environmental protection. Such a commitment cannot be discounted even a bit.
Past experiences indicate that it is yet to be seen whether these good-looking environmental protection plans will have any noticeable effects. Tightened supervision has proven to be the key to the effective implementation of such plans in the past.
The rectification lists drawn up by the local governments after inspections by the top environment watchdog not only reflect the leadership’s hardened resolve to strengthen environmental protection, but also mark an important step toward this target.
President Xi Jinping has stressed that a good ecology is a public product that is fair to all. Given that people today are more aware of environmental problems and health risks posed by pollution, local governments cannot afford to ignore environmental protection any more.