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Special Speech on Focusing on Pollution Reduction and Rehabilitating Rivers and Lakes(Zhou Shengxian)

2007-11-28author:source:

  Respected Chair, Council Members, experts and distinguished guests,

 

  Premier Wen Jiabao met with international members of the Council yesterday afternoon, listened to the policy recommendations on China’s environment and development and highly appraised the Council’s work. Vice Premier, also Chairman of the Council, Zeng Peiyan attended the opening ceremony and made a speech. This fully demonstrates that the Chinese government values the Council’s unique role and positive contributions to promoting China’s cause of environment and development.

 

  I would like to make a brief introduction on China’s efforts to reduce pollution and control water pollution on this occasion.

 

  This year the Chinese government has put energy saving and emission reduction on top agenda. The State Council established a leading group for energy saving and emission reduction with Premier Wen Jiabao as the leader, convened teleconference on the task and made nation-wide arrangements for it. The General Work Plan for Energy Saving and Emission Reduction issued by the State Council identified a series of measures and policies. Local governments and all quarters of the society have made more efforts on it. The strenuous efforts have begun to take hold. The first three quarters saw a reduction of SO2 emissions by 1.81% and COD by 0.28% in the whole country as compared with that of last year, showing a decline for the first time. This marked an important turning point, which testified that pollution reduction could be accomplished while the economy sustained rapid growth. The credit goes to such measures of reduction through constructing treatment facilities, industrial restructuring and management that enabled the total discharge of two major pollutants to drop for the first time in the country.

 

  Reduce emissions through constructing treatment facilities. We have accelerated the construction of municipal sewage treatment facilities and desulphurization devices for coal-fired plants. The newly added sewage treatment capacity last year was 11.56 million tons per day and 9 million tons more were added in the first three quarters. By far, national sewage treatment rate in cities have increased to 60%. In 2006, the newly added desulphurization capacity in coal-fired plants totaled 104 GW, more than doubled the total capacity added in the past 10 years. In the first three quarters of 2007, another 74.12 GW units were installed with desulphurization facilities, increasing the proportion of desulphurization units to 45% of total coal-fired power units. All this shows that we have stepped up efforts to control pollution in the past two years and this trend will continue in the future.

 

  Reduce emissions through industrial restructuring. Substantial progress was scored to expand large-scale production and phase out small capacities in key sectors. In the first three quarters of this year, we have eliminated outdated production capacities in such sectors as cement, calcium carbide, mechanical coke oven, steel and iron by 25 million tons, 400,000 tons, 11 million tons, 9.69 million tons and 8.73 million tons respectively. We moved 2 months ahead of the deadline of shutting down 10 GW of small coal fired units. Phasing out backward production in paper-making and alcohol industries also registered positive results with eliminated capacity hitting 1.7 million tons and 350,000 tons respectively. We also encourage the development of large-scale projects with high technology. From January to October this year, 365 large scale industrial projects passed environmental impact assessment. When these projects put into operation, the outdated production capacity will be phased out accordingly, which are expected to reduce emissions of SO2 and COD by 310,000 tons and 7300 tons each year.

 

  Reduce emissions through management. We have resorted to the measure of banning projects in the whole region twice this year to cope with serious pollution and outstanding environmental infringement in some areas by rejecting EIA on industrial projects in these areas and taking actions to rectify the problems. The special campaign to combat environmental non-compliance and safeguard people’s health included 860,000 investigations on enterprises, among which 620 paper mills failed to meet environmental standard in a stable manner were halted operation for rectification and 403 paper mills were required to improve pollution control facilities within certain time limit. These control measures on paper mills are expected to cut COD by 300,000 tons. During investigations, 545 people were investigated for suspecting of violating environmental regulations and polluting enterprises suffered serious blow.

 

  These achievements were hard earned and they also showed that the policies and measures of the Chinese government were absolutely right. So long as we make unremitting efforts to implement them, China’s capability to deal with issues on environment and development is out of question. However, we must keep sober-minded and recognize the stern situation we are now facing, particularly the situation of water environment. Large scale blue algae have occurred in the Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and Dianchi Lake since the beginning of this year, affecting some of the key drinking water sources subsequently. This represents a reflection of rivers and lakes that are already overloaded. Serious water pollution not only harms people’s health and affects social stability, but also restrains the economy from growing sound and fast.

 

  Facing increasingly serious water pollution, we have convened several meetings for the pollution control of the Songhua River and other lakes and rivers across the country, reviewed lessons and experience in dealing with water environment and put forward the policy of rehabilitating water system in light of past experience and laws governing natural succession. We will show humanistic care for rivers and lakes, restore the benign cycle of eco-system and lay environmental foundation for the sustainable development of the society and economy. This policy manifests the overall guidance of environmental work by laws governing social and economic development and law of nature, and is of vital significance to the promotion of scientific development and social harmony.

 

  Water is the source of life, the root of world and civilization. Human civilization tells us the close relationship between water and national strength, social prosperity and cultural development. The tide of Nile bred brilliant culture of ancient Egypt, the vicissitudes of Euphrates determined the rise and decline of Babylon, the beautiful environment along the Mediterranean nurtured civilization of ancient Greece and the surging Yellow River and Yangtze River extended the splendid Chinese culture. The Chinese has long been honoring the tradition of respecting water, loving water and making friends with water. As the old Chinese saying goes, “The wise find pleasure in water, the virtuous find pleasure in hills” the Analects of Confucius, “We should behave like water, which nourishes all objects while never seeks for supremacy” Lao Tzu, “One should not drain the pond to catch fish, nor burn up whole forests to hunt” Huainan Ziand “Accept all as the sea is converged by all rivers”couplet at Lin Zexu’s Office, the concept embracing harmony between man and water and the brilliance of the culture of water are always carried in the minds of sages. However, cases of cultural decline due to irrational use of water are also ubiquitous. Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, once abundant in water and plants, are now reduced to infertility; the world famous Phenician civilization and Sahara civilization disappeared one after the other due to loss of water sources. There is no denying that water gives birth to human beings and supports the immense progress of human civilization. Water crisis facing China and other countries in the world has posed a menace to the development of civilization. This is no exaggeration. To recover rivers and lakes means to acquire conservation culture, promote harmony between man and water, and accelerate the building of a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society.

 

  To restore rivers and lakes is not to wait passively. It is a proactive way to make progress. Instead of being sluggish, we are gearing up for a fight. This policy will push hard on the extensive mode of economic growth that has long plagued China, guide a transformation of concept on economic development, change the mode of development and improve its quality so as to fundamentally mitigate the stress on water environment.

 

  The success in rehabilitating rivers and lakes depends on a string of factors such as most stringent environmental measures, slash in total discharge of water pollutants, strict conditions on environmental access, prohibition against discharge of toxic and hazardous wastes into water body like heavy metals and POPs, strenuous efforts to phase out outdated production capacities, protect drinking water sources, accelerate treatment of industrial and urban wastewater, appropriate management of water use for household, production and ecological purposes, and rational development and use of water resources. All this will ensure the rejuvenation of rivers and waters.

 

  Resolution of China’s problems in environment and development is a challenging task as well as a significant undertaking for global sustainable development. Its toughness calls on our joint efforts. Despite many difficulties ahead, we are still full of confidence, a confidence driven by the correct decisions from the CPC and the government. The last month 17th Congress put environmental protection at a strategic position in our national plan and explicitly demonstrated our commitment to international cooperation in the field of environment by helping each other and synergy in order to protect the planet upon which we human being srely. Our confidence also comes from the strong support of the people. With the improvement of people’s living standard, people have grown an increasingly strong awareness for environmental quality. As more and more people put themselves in the place of a watchdog, non-compliance will be driven to nowhere. Our confidence is boosted by the full participation of all social circles. The big difference that environmental problems make on the development of human civilization has brought about much attention from all quarters, and the whole society has reached the consensus to develop a conservation culture.

 

  Ladies and gentlemen,

 

  As human society is now confronting unprecedented challenges from environment, and climate change becomes a threat in reality, many people expect a bigger role of China in control of GHG emissions. With regard to this issue, the Chinese leadership including President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan and others has all stated their positions on different occasions. Here I would like to stress three points:

 

  Firstly, all countries should cooperate in the principle of openness and pragmatism. Combating the global issue of climate change is incumbent on all of us. Developed countries should face up to their historical responsibilities and the lingering reality of high level emissions per capita, set stricter objectives in the long run and continue to cut emissions. Developing countries should take active measures and contribute to global fight against climate change according to their own capabilities. Without frank and pragmatic cooperation, we won’t make substantial headway in this regard.

 

  Secondly, to transform the mode of economic development is the fundamental measure to cope with climate change. Climate change is fundamentally an issue of development. It is no good to approach it while turning a blind eye to poverty and halting development. There is an old Chinese saying that goes like this “A man is dead to shame when in poverty and hunger”. If we are not able to provide people with food and clothing, how can we protect global environment? Of course, we are not for lopsided pursuit of economic growth without regard to climate change. The ultimate way out is to transform development mode, accomplish economic development and poverty elimination in a responsible manner for the society and nature and call on prudent use of resources and energy and rejection of extravagance.

 

  Thirdly, technology development and technological cooperation play a decisive role. The international community should increase the inputs spending on environmental protection, improve information exchange and enhance technology development and innovative cooperation in energy saving, environmental protection and low-carbon energy sources, and strengthen technology extension and application in particular. In this regard, we should not only stress the role of market mechanism. To address climate change, it requires the combination of market and administrative measures. We urge developed countries to make more efforts in extension and application of technologies that are affordable and applicable for developing countries.

 

  Ladies and gentlemen,

 

  I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Council for its contribution. A succession of dedicated Council Members and experts make the Council in blossom. The Council has proposed many valuable policy recommendations to the Chinese government through their study on many practical issues facing China’s environment and development and related the extensive and profound changes taking place in the world to those in China through their unique perspective and work mechanism. Its positive contribution to China makes the Council a role model of international cooperation in the field of environment and development.

 

  I am very pleased to see the new phase of the Council in this annual meeting. I sincerely hope all the Council Members and experts will make the best of this platform and work mechanism, thoroughly study polices conducive to the steady and rapid development of China, share your insights and make greater contributions to China’s environmental protection and sustainable development!

 

  Thank you!

   


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