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Chen Jining responds to the FAQs at the press conference for the fifth session of the 12th NPC

A press conference is held on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 12th NPC at the Beijing Media Center on Mar. 9. Minister Chen Jining answers the questions raised by the Chinese and international news presses about “strengthening the ecological environment conservation”. (Photo by Wang Yajing)

By Liu Xiaoxing, Wang Kunting

BEIJING, Mar. 9, CENEWS-A press conference was held on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 12th NPC at the Beijing Media Center on Mar. 9. Minister Chen Jining answered the questions raised by the Chinese and international news presses about “strengthening the ecological environment conservation”.

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have highly valued the development of the ecological civilization and the protection of the environment, and with a firm will, taken resolute actions that are unparalleled both in strength and in profoundness, to address ongoing pressing environmental problems including the air pollution, said Chen. The Ministry will, in accordance with the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee, go all out to carry out the environmental protection tasks and strive to hand in a qualified answer sheet to the people.

In response to the question about the heavy air pollution, Chen said that the air quality is affected by two main variants, one is the amount of the air pollutants and the other is the meteorological condition. The latter is an uncontrollable natural element, with which a region’s environmental capacity varies. The environmental capacity is fairly low in windless weathers in winter, what’s more, the emissions of air pollutants increase during the heat supply season in the northern part of China, so the reduction in environmental capacity and the growth in air pollutants led to frequent heavy air pollution in winter. However, the pollution factors vary from region to region and from season to season in the same region, owing to different industrial, energy, and transportation and traffic structures, as well as seasonal changes. This calls for enhanced dialogues between the scientists and the public, in order to clarify the causes of the air pollution, and prevent the misunderstandings from confusing the public.

This year marks the final year for the first-stage implementation of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, emphasized Chen. The ambient air quality has been improved since the action plan was implemented more than three years ago, a fact that proves we’re on the right path to air pollution control. The environmental quality is being improved at a faster rate in China compared with the developed countries at the same development stage. The pressing problem is the heavy air pollution in the heat supply season in winter. The central government has already worked out a series of specific measures to address this problem, and the key lies in the implementation of those measures. The share of heavy industries in China’s economic structure is on the high side, the energy structure is more dependent on coal-dominated fossil fuels, and the intensity of human activities and the density of pollution discharge per unit area are higher. Therefore, the environmental protection in China is still marching forward under a heavy weight, and we should brace ourselves for both a tough and a prolonged fight.

In response to the question about the enforcement of the new environment protection law, Chen said that the Ministry has carried on the activities launched since the environmental protection law took effect on Jan. 1, 2015 for two years. The supplementary regulations have been constantly completed, the law enforcement has been tightened, the publicity and training programs have been carried out on a full scale, and a trend of environmental compliance has been in shape over the past two years. In the next move, the Ministry is going to continue with the enforcement of the new environmental protection law by carrying on the activities launched in the first year the law took effect, enhancing the law enforcement capacity building at the community level, and improving relevant laws and regulations.

In response to the question about how to step up the ecological environment protection of the Yangtze River, Chen said that over the past year the Ministry has worked with relevant State departments and 11 provinces and municipalities, and strengthened the planning and overall coordination to press ahead with the protection strategy; delineated the ecological conservation red lines, and stepped up the macro and systematic protection; severely cracked down on environmental incompliances, and addressed pressing environmental problems; tightened the environmental pollution control, and worked faster to improve the environmental quality. And yet, there are still certain problems with the protection of the Yangtze River economic belt, for example, the systematic protection of the watersheds is insufficient, the pollution base is large, there are prominent environmental risks and hazards in the chemical industries along the river banks, and the urban development activities in some areas eat up the ecological space of the rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. In response, the Ministry will take multiple measures to further improve the eco-environmental quality of the Yangtze River economic belt. These measures include establishing a compulsory restraint mechanism for the ecological environment, introducing the monitoring, evaluation, and early warning systems for environmental carrying capacity, moving forward with the implementation of the river chief system and the system of natural resource assets audit on the departure of leading officials, optimizing the industrial layout along the river banks, promoting the integrated pollution control, raising the ecological environment carrying capacity of watersheds, and tightening the regulation over environmental compliance.

In response to the question about how to enhance the environmental communications and education, Chen referred to the environmental communications and education as a core task. The Ministry will continue strengthening the institutional support, improve the public participation protocols and approaches; step up environmental communications and education, and launch a myriad of activities to invigorate more to participate in environmental protection; vigorously promote the sharing of environmental information on the air and water environment quality, the polluters, the environmental impact assessment, and the regulatory departments, unclog the channels for the public to voice their opinions, guide and support the NGOs to engage in environmental protection in a healthy an orderly approach, and make persistent efforts to promote environmental education in classrooms, communities and families. Those measures will help pool together the social resources and help establish cooperation on pollution control and environmental protection.

Chen also answered questions in respect of soil pollution control, the approval of environmental impact statements, and the central inspection on environmental protection, which are close concerns of the news press.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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