Secretary of MEP Leading Party Members Group and MEP Minister
(April 19, 2016)
I am very glad to exchange with you some ideas on eco environment protection of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period. Today, I would like talk about the following three issues: 1) Foundation. Status, situation and challenges of eco environment protection of our country in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period; 2) What will we do? The Outline presents comprehensive arrangements for the protection of eco environment; 3) How will we do? Key activities on environmental protection that we will promote in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period.
I. Status, situation and challenges of eco environment protection in our country in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period
Understanding situation means a clear direction. Clear analysis and accurate understanding of eco environment protection situation is the foundation for successful work. We could understand the situation in the following three areas.
(I) Understand the complexity, urgency and long-term nature of eco environment protection of our country
China has made unprecedented efforts in environmental governance with accelerated progress since the 18th National Congress of CPC under strong leadership of CCCPC and the State Council. There is some improvement of environment quality. In genera; however, environmental protection of our country still lags behind social and economic development. Many kinds of problems in different areas and at different development stages have been concentrated and accumulated over a long period, and environmental carrying capacity has reached or is approaching the upper limit. There is heavy environmental pollution, big ecological damage and high environmental risks. The degradation trend of eco environment has not been obtained fundamental reverse.
There are the following two aspects in ambient air quality. On one hand, there is too huge discharge of major pollutants with heavy pollution. In 2015, the urban air quality of nearly 80% of 338 cities at or above prefecture level failed to meet Grade II national air quality standard. The annual average level of particulates (PM2.5) of 45 cities was over twice of the limit. To a large extend, ambient air quality also depends on the changes of meteorological conditions. There was frequent winter smog pollution in the end of last year in some regions. One important reason is the impacts of adverse meteorological conditions due to strong El Nino. The following indicators show the extent of its impacts: 1) Wind speed. The average wind speed of Beijing and its surrounding areas went down by about 5% compared with that of historical average. 2) Air humidity. PM2.5 is the product of secondary reaction. The chemical reaction in water is faster than that in air. Thus, high humidity is conducive to the formation of PM2.5. The air humidity last year was about 20% higher than the historical average. 3) Height of mixing layer. The height of mixing layer under good weather is more than 1500 m, or 1000 ～1500 m under normal conditions. However, it was only 200 m, or even 100 m in some regions during the extreme weather last year, leading to rapid accumulation of pollutants.
On the other hand, we should see the overall improving trend of urban air quality across the country compared with that of past few years. This is mainly reflected by the following 3 indicators: 1) percent of days with good air quality; 2) percent of heavy pollution days; 3) annual average concentration of pollutants. The comparable data of 74 cities (the first group of cities implementing the newly amended ambient air quality standard) shows 10.7 percentage points increase of the proportion of days with good air quality, 4.6 percentage points reduction of the proportion of days with heavy pollution and 23.6% reduction of the average PM2.5 concentration as compared with that of 2013. Among them, there was 7 percentage points reduction of the amount of days with heavy air pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei with 17.2% reduction of annual average of PM2.5 level compared with that of last year. There is the biggest improvement of ambient air quality in the Pearl River delta. The regional average PM2.5 concentration was 34 μg/m3, meeting national air quality for the first time. This is the milestone progress, indicating that our country could address air pollution problem of very big city clusters during rapid development process.
In water environment quality, the overall water quality of the mainstreams of big rivers in our country is good. The water quality of collective drinking water sources of cities at or above prefecture level basically meets national standard. The water quality of surface water of our country has been on the trend of steady improvement since the beginning of the “12th Five-Year Plan” period. There are 14.6 percentage points up of the waters meeting or better than Grade Ⅲ standard, and 6.8 percentage points reduction of the proportion of waters failing to meet GradeⅤstandard across the country. In terms of pollutants, the average COD level of surface water went down by nearly one third. However, we also have the following three prominent problems: 1) serious pollution of tributaries of key river basins with relatively high percent of water sections failing to meet Grade V water standard and losing use functions. 2) prominent black and smell issue of quite many rivers and channels flowing in cities and towns, mainly referring to no drinking water and industrial water in vicinity of local communities; more in landscape waters with strong public complaints. 3) prominent lake eutrophication. It is very difficult to improve lake eutrophication. In addition, the construction of water pollution prevention and control facilities in rural areas lags behind. There are increasingly prominent environmental problems in rural areas.
The water environment of our country has the following 2 characteristics. First, the overall surface water quality has the olive-shape distribution with reduction of both the waters with very poor and very good water quality. In 2015, there was 0.6 percentage point reduction of the water sections meeting Grade I national water quality standard compared with that of last year. In the past 5 years, there was 1.0 percentage point reduction of the water sections in the Yangtze River basin meeting Grade I surface water quality standard. There was no river sections in all rivers in southwestern of China meeting Grade Ⅰsurface water quality standard and 4.1 percentage points reduction of the percent of river sections meeting GradeⅡstandard. Second, structural change of major pollution factors. Water pollution in the past mainly was caused by organic pollutants. However, they have been under effective control and ammonia nitrogen and TP pollution becomes increasingly prominent with more difficulty in control and more input. In the whole country, the percent of surface water sections failing to meet TP standard is approaching to that of COD.
In soil environment quality, the findings of the first national investigation on soil pollution conducted in 2005~2013 show that the overall status of soil environment of our country is not very good. In particular, some regions such as the Yangtze River delta, Pearl River delta and old industrial bases in Northeast China have prominent soil pollution problem, and the soil of relatively large areas in Southwest China and Central China fail to meet heavy metal standard. Quite many large and medium sized cities are facing the problem of shutting down or relocation of many enterprises with heavy pollution, which leave a great deal of contaminated sites.
In the status of eco environment, the forest coverage of our country has steady increase going up from 16.6% in the beginning of this century to nearly 22%. There are 2740 nature reserves across the country with total area of 1.47 million km2, ranking No.2 in the world, secondly only to the United States. The total area of nature reserves accounts for 14.8% of total land area, higher than world average at 12.7%. The population of some precious endangered species is under gradual restoration. For example, the population of wild giant panda is more than 1800, evolving from endangered species to vulnerable species. The population of wild crested ibis has gone up from 7 at the time of discovery to nearly 2000, upgrading from extremely endangered to endangered species.
However, eco-safety is still facing a serious situation in our country. The findings of National Investigation on 10-Year Change of Ecological Environment (2000～2010) show that eco environment is still fragile with poor quality and service functions of ecosystems. That is, there are active changes in quantity, but the quality is in need of improvement. There is dramatic change of ecosystem patterns in cities and rural areas with evident artificial trend of ecosystems such as forests and wetlands. The problems such as water and soil erosion and desertification resulting from agriculture and development are still serious. There is worsening situation of the problems such as damage of river-basin ecology, loss of natural coastal line and shrinkage of natural habitats of wildlife due to urbanization, industrialization and resource development. China Ecological Footprint Report 2012 released by WWF shows that the increase rate of ecological food print of our country is far higher than the increase rate of biological carrying capacity, over twice of the biological carrying capacity.
In environmental risks, our country is in the period of high environmental risk, in particular, there is prominent regional and structural environmental risk. Our country is a big player in production and consumption of chemicals. The output or consumption of over 20 kinds of chemicals are at the top of the world. The chemical industrial layout is not appropriate and a lot of chemical plants are located near waters and cities. The distance of 12% hazardous chemical enterprises to environmental sensitive areas such as drinking water source area protected areas and important ecological function areas is less than 1 km. Another 10% such enterprises have less than 1 km distance to densely populated areas. In addition, indirect risks are increasing. Sudden environmental pollution accidents caused by production safety or traffic accidents take up over 70% of the environmental risks.
Although with high environmental risks and many hidden problems, the incidence of environmental pollution accidents is on declining trend in our country thanks to continuous improvement of environmental management and risk control. The amount of environmental pollution accidents handled by national department has gone down from 156 in 2010 to 82 in 2015, nearly 50% reduction. The amount of heavy metal pollution accidents imposing serious hazards to drinking water has gone down from 14 in 2010 to 2 cases in 2015. The accident rate of radioactive sources has decreased to less than one in 10,000, the best level in the history. However, we cannot get slack in our work because it is still the period with high risks.
Addressing global environmental problems
While addressing its own environmental problems, China has also made great contributions to addressing global environment problems. It has ratified over 30 multilateral conventions or protocols in relation to eco environment. The phased out amount of ODS of our country accounts for over 50% of the total of developing countries under the framework of Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol. We have phased out ODS with active actions in the process of rapid development. Without the contributions of China, it would have been difficult for the world to address the hole of ozone layer.
In general, there is some improvement of eco environment quality of our country. However, there is no change of the complexity, urgency and long-term nature of environmental problems. Based on its resources, environment, labor and advantage of backwardness, China has followed the rapid industrialization path over past years to catch up with developed countries. Various environmental problems have concentrated occurrence within a short period. History shows that the environmental problems of developed countries occurred and were addressed at different stages of the past 100~200 years of industrialization; but it is quite different in China. Taking air pollution as an example, they mainly addressed coal smoke pollution and acid rain in 1950s~1960s, vehicle emissions in 1970s and PM2.5 & ground ozone pollution since 2000. In China however, we are at the stage when coal emission, vehicle emission and PM2.5 pollution have to be addressed at the same time. New and old environmental problems coexist and the pollution from production and everyday life, urban and rural areas, industry and traffic has been intertwined. The modernization process of China with over a billion population is incomparable in terms of nature, pressure and challenges. So fast speed and so short period indicate more environmental pressure of China compared with that of other countries. The tasks of pollution control and improvement of environment quality are very hard with unprecedented difficulty.
Only understanding current status of the environment can we clearly know our problems and pressure, objectively identify our targets and firmly promote environmental protection.
(II) Active achievements in the protection of eco environment since the beginning of the “12th Five-Year Plan”
CCCPC and the State Council have put the development of ecological civilization and environmental protection onto more important strategic position since the beginning of the “12th Five-Year Plan”, in particular the 18th National Congress of CPC and made a series of key decisions and arrangements. As a result, there is active progress in the protection of eco environment, which lays a solid foundation for successful work of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period.
1) Evident acceleration of pollution control. The State Council has released Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Air Pollution and Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution for implementation. Now China is developing the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution and greatly promote environment governance with firm determination and sound action. The capacity of environment facilities of our country has been significantly increased over the past 5 years. The efforts and achievements are unprecedented in the world. For example, total daily urban sewage treatment capacity of our country has gone up from 125 million t in 2010 to 182 million t in the end of 2015. China becomes one of the countries with the biggest sewage treatment capacity in the world and urban sewage treatment rate reaches at 91%. The installed capacity of coal-fueled power generation units with desulphurization facilities has gone up from 580 million kW to 890 million kW, its percent going up from 83% to over 99%. The installed capacity of coal-fueled power generation units installed with denitrification facilities has increased from 80 million kW to 830 million kW, its percent going up from 12% to 92%. In total, coal-fueled power plants with total capacity of 160 million kW have finished very-low-emission reform. As a result, the smoke emission of coal-fueled generating units could meet the emission standard of natural gas fueled generating units with revolutionary progress. It is expected that the low-emission reform will be completed in 2017 for all power plants in Eastern Part of China, 2018 for all power plants in Central Part of China, and 2020 for all power plants in the whole country. At that time, we will develop the biggest clean and highly efficient coal-fueled power generation system in the world, which will play the role as standard. We have developed the biggest ambient air quality monitoring network among all developing countries. All the 338 cities at or above prefecture level in the country have the capacity in monitoring 6 indicators including PM2.5.
Agriculture is the biggest ecosystem. Agriculture and countryside are important pollution source, too. If rural environment is good, rural residents are the most direct beneficiaries and there will be reliable guarantee for grain, vegetables and water for urban residents. We have deepened the policy of “employing reward as a means to facilitate the control of environmental pollution” in rural areas since the beginning of the“12th Five-Year Plan”. Up to the end of 2015, the central budget has arranged 31.5 billion yuan special fund for rural environmental protection to support comprehensive environmental control of 78000 villages, directly benefiting 140 million rural people. I have visited many rural areas and seen that the drinking water source areas of such villages have been protected. The pollution such as sewage, garbage and livestock & poultry farms has been under effective control. The environmental outlook of rural areas has been improved and rural residents have obtained practical benefits.
2) Increasing enhancement of the development of environmental laws and regulations. The newly amended Environmental Protection Law and Law on Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution mark significant progress of both the legislation and law enforcement in environmental protection. 2015 is the beginning year of implementation of the newly amended Environmental Protection Law. Our aim is strict implementation of the law with strong measures. First, local government should assume their environmental responsibility according to law. MEP has made more efforts in environmental supervision and holding talks with relevant local leaders. MEP has carried out comprehensive supervision on environmental protection work of 33 cities (urban districts) and held talks with major official in charge of 15 city governments with environmental problems. Provincial governments across the country have conducted comprehensive supervision on 163 cities; held talks with the leader of 31 cities; rejected approval of EIS of construction projects of 20 cities (counties) with excessive environmental load; put 176 cases on supervision list. They have not only addressed a group of prominent environmental problems, but also divided the responsibility for environmental protection down to each level. Second, enterprises should fulfill their the main body responsibility for environmental protection. Environmental protection authority has serious investigated and punished environmental infringements. In 2015, there were more than 8000 cases across the country subject to consecutive daily fines, sealing up or distraint or constraint or cease of production with transfer of over 2000 cases of administrative detention and more than 1600 suspected cases of crime of environmental pollution. The total fine collected by environmental protection department at all level was 4.25 billion yuan, 1/3 more than that of 2014. Third, MEP has carried out large scale inspection on environmental protection. Environmental protection departments conducted 1.77 million enterprise-times of inspection across the country; they had investigated and punished 191000 various enterprises with environmental infringements; shut down or banned 20000 enterprises; and ordered 34000 enterprises to cease production and 89000 enterprises to make corrections within a given period of time. Each region has gradually set up and improved the “one file for one enterprise” system with completion of the file of nearly 300,000 enterprises. This has laid a sound foundation for enhancing the development of our legal system and refining management. Environmental supervision and law enforcement have been more stringent with the implementation of the newly amended Environmental Protection Law last year. There is relatively big improvement of the awareness of local governments in environmental protection responsibility, awareness of pollution discharge enterprises in law enforcement and public awareness in supervision.
3) Continuous improvement of environmental system and management. The central government released a series of major arrangements on system and mechanism on development of ecological civilization last year. The Suggestions on Accelerating the Development of Ecological Civilization, Comprehensive Program on Reform of Ecological Civilization System and Outline of the “13th Five-Year Plan” form the strategy and institutional framework for the reform of ecological civilization system. This includes the trial inspection of central environmental supervision group in Hebei Province, accountability of eco environment damages; taking back the authority for monitoring of eco environment; reform of eco environment damage compensation system; development of balance sheet of natural resources; off-office audit on natural resource assets; local CPC and government leaders sharing the same responsibility, dual responsibility of the same post; as well as a series activities such as facilitating pollution discharge permit, reform of EIA system, and promoting compulsory liability insurance for environmental pollution.
The prevention measures for environmental protection have been strengthened. Prevention is the first principle for environmental protection, mainly including the measures in the following 5 areas: 1) identify ecological red line to leave enough resource and space for us and future generations; 2) conduct EIA for strategies and plans to plan both regional development and environmental constraints at the same time; 3) make strict EIA of specific construction projects; 4) employ standard to guide industrial development and make strict environmental access; 5) facilitate industrial restructuring to avoid any environmental problems due to heavy, extensive or low-end industrial structure.
“Ecological red line” is another “life line” at national level following the “1.8 billion mu arable land”. The identification of ecological red lines optimizes the spatial layout of development and helps us maintain the bottom line for safe eco environment. Our examination has avoided development activities in 87 nature reserves and port construction in 37 protected areas at different levels. In addition, MEP has cancelled the development activities along 173 km sensitive coastal lines and reduced 224 km2 sea reclamation with the help of strategic environmental assessment since the beginning of the “12th Five-Year Plan”, leaving precious ecological resources for long-term development of our country. In EIA of construction projects, MEP has rejected the review and approval of over 150 projects involving total investment over 760 billion yuan and covering industries such as transport, power, iron & steel, non-ferrous metal, coal and chemicals. This aims at regulating development activities in appropriate places with appropriate techniques and preventing any disordered development without consideration of natural environment. In environmental standards, there are over 1700 environmental standards now in our country. They form a relatively complete standard system. Next, we will urge sound implementation of relevant standards.
4) Green Action of the Whole Society is on the rise. Environmental protection requires common action of the whole society. With activities such as “June 5 World Environment Day and World Earth Day, we employ various media and approaches to strengthen publicity on the protection of eco environment since the beginning of the “12th Five-Year Plan” to promote wide public awareness in environmental protection. MEP have made more efforts in disclosure of environmental information and made public in time of environmental information closed related to everyday life such as air and water quality. MEP has released the name list of major polluting enterprises and enterprises that discharge pollutants in violation of relevant law. It has achieved the disclosure of the full text of Environmental Impact Statement (Form), government commitment documents, approval decisions and credibility & honesty information of EIA centers and individuals. MEP established the “12369” platform for environmental complaints through WeChat on June 5 of 2015. In doing so, each mobile phone becomes a mobile monitoring site and each person becomes a monitor on environmental protection. Up to the end of 2015, environmental protection departments across the country have received and handled over 13000 reports and complaints. The disclosure of information has played an important role in raising public environmental awareness and supervising compliance of enterprises.
(III) Making up the short board of environmental protection and meeting environmental protection targets of the well-off society are facing precious opportunities and challenges
It is expected that economic development of our country in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period will present the following three characteristics: change of increase speed, optimum structure and shift of driving force. Environmental protection is in the key period of both great opportunities and hard work. It is also the period of achieving overall improvement of environment quality. Therefore, there are both opportunities and challenges as well as momentum and pressure.
We have good opportunities mainly in the following 4 areas:
First, CCCPC and the State Council attach great importance to addressing eco environment issues. CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized a series of important statements many times such as “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” and “protecting eco environment like our eyes and treating eco environment like life”. He has integrated the outlook on development, outlook on governance and view of nature into the governance and development ideas of CPC, which becomes the common will of the whole Party. They point out the direction and provide strong driving force for addressing eco environment issues of next few years.
Second, economic transformation and upgrading could promote continuous reduction of pollution emission intensity. Now, we are shifting from rapid expansion in the past to focusing on quality and benefits. This transformation process will bring continuous reduction of pollution emission intensity.
Third, we will comprehensively deepen the reform and comprehensively govern the nation according to law and bring policy and legal dividends for environmental protection. Environmental governance in the world mainly depends on economic policies; 70% depending on the guidance of economic policies and 30% on administration. However, macroeconomic policy depends on reform environment and a standard market mechanism. Therefore, comprehensively deepening the reform and comprehensively governing the nation according to law could release the dividend of economic policies and rule of law and facilitate pollution control.
Fourth, the public has increasingly higher expectations on and need for environmental protection. All of us wish a good environment, fresh air and clean water. “APEC Blue” and “Parade Blue” give us strong sense of happiness. Higher public expectations are conducive to common efforts of the whole society in environmental protection, which will become an important and fundamental driving force for promoting the supply of good-quality ecological products.
We are facing challenges mainly in the following 5 areas:
First, our country has not finished the tasks of industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization. The protection of eco environment is facing mounting pressure. In the over 200-year modernization process of mankind, less than 30 have achieved industrialization with total population less than 1 billion, mainly OECD countries. The modernization of our country involves a billion people. Therefore, it is very difficult for China to address environmental problems in the process of development due to objective constraints of economic and social development law as well as natural law.
Second, the contradiction between development and protection becomes more prominent with increasing slowdown of the economy. The progress of industrialization and urbanization is slowing down under the new normal. On one hand, environmental pressure is declining. On the other hand, this is the slowdown on high base; the new increment of pollutants is still high with mounting pressure on the environment.
Third, we will further promote environmental governance and improvement of environmental quality. All activities are hard and complex. Addressing secondary pollution requires double input. China addresses more complicated environmental problems at relatively low income level compared with some other countries in the world. The marginal cost of improving environmental quality is increasing with decrease of marginal benefits.
Fourth, the differentiation trend of regional environment is emerging with higher requirement for overall coordination in wider areas. The economic and social development of our country is not in balance and some regions of the eastern part of our country enter late stage of industrialization with improving trend in environmental quality. However, the central and western parts of China to a large extent still is copying past development mode of the eastern part and are at the stage of concentrated development of heavy industry. In the review and approval of EIA of construction projects, it is possible that the central and western parts may follow the development path of some regions of eastern part with heavy pollution and ecological damages. The eco environment of western part has high sensitivity with poor supervision capacity. In case of any accident, it will be a disaster.
Fifth, international communities especially developed countries ask our country to assume more environmental responsibility with increasing pressure. International communities especially developed countries ask China to shoulder more responsibility for environmental protection with the increase of China’s comprehensive national strength.
In a word, good eco environment quality will be the key for achieving a well-off society in an all round way. At present, eco environment is the short board for achieving a well-off society in an all round way. Reversing the degradation trend of the environment and improving environment quality are both the explicit requirement of the central government and public expectations. This will need our hard work and efforts.
II. The Outline makes comprehensive arrangements for protection of eco environment
The Fourth Session of the 12th NPC has reviewed and adopted the Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development with the goal of developing a well-off society in an all round way. The Outline with over 66000 Chinese characters in 80 chapters of 20 parts attracts world attention with enthusiastic response and far-reach impacts.
There are many highlights of the Outline of the “13th Five-Year Plan”. The core of the Outlines is leading practical innovation by innovative ideas. We will employ innovative ideas to plan, guide and facilitate development and consciously integrate the concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and sharing development into the whole process, all areas and links of the Outline. In particular, the Outline takes the development of green production mode and life style and improvement of eco environment as the key objectives and tasks for the big development picture of building a well-off society and makes proper arrangements. It fully reflects new atmosphere, stage and philosophy of CPC for governance in the new era and is an important document of our country on sound development of ecological civilization and environmental protection.
(I) Green development ideas run through the full text of the Outline
The Outline point out that adhering to innovative development, coordinated development, green development, open development and shared development is a profound reform of the big development picture of our country. The ideas of the five developments are the aggregation with internal relations. As one of the five major development ideas, green development is the prerequisite for sustainable development and important reflection of public expectations on happy life. It focuses on addressing the coordination between economic development and environmental protection and the harmony between man and nature. It is highly consistent with the statement of CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping saying “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets”. It fundamentally changes the traditional understanding of natural resources having no value and breaks the mind constraint that simply sets development against environmental protection. In fact, environmental protection integrates with economic development. Focusing on environmental protection means focusing on development and sustainable development. Only paying true attention to environmental protection and green development can we finally achieve sustainable development.
Therefore, green development is both the new development concept that integrates the development of ecological civilization into all areas and whole process of economic, political, cultural and social development and the methodology achieving unity, mutual promotion and coordination and win-win of development and environmental protection. It is both the only way of correct handling the relationship between man and nature and endogenous impetus for facilitating sustainable development. It is both the inevitable choice based on the big picture of long-term development of our country and the in-depth understanding of new development trend of the world. The idea of green development runs through all areas of economic and social development of our country. It reflects the determination and confidence of CCCPC and the State Council that will employ strong measures to address the challenges, make up the short board of eco environment as soon as possible and improve the quality and benefits of development.
The Outline is an outline for green development and reflect the requirements for green development, development of ecological civilization and environmental protection. It identifies the goal of overall improvement of eco environment quality and makes systematic arrangements in special chapter for improvement of eco environment, which are mentioned in other chapters, too. It emphasizes the promotion of economic system, market incentive mechanism and social conducts with small consumption of resources and less emissions.
Green development involves all areas and processes of economic and social development as well as all regions, departments, sectors and social strata rather than only environmental protection department. Taking the promotion of new urbanization as an example, the Outline explicitly requires that China should transform urban development mode, make more efforts in prevention and control of “urban disease” and continuously improve urban environment quality. Based on resource and environment carrying capacity, we will adjust city scale; carry out the standards for green planning, design and construction. We will develop ecological corridor, conduct ecosystem restoration projects; build green cities; develop demonstration villages and towns on the development of ecological civilization; make comprehensive environmental control of rural living environment and develop beautiful villages with good scenery and happy life.
The promotion of green development should depend on common action of the government, enterprises and the public rather than only effort of the government. The Outline requires that the government should make innovations, improve macro regulations, pay more attention to environmental protection, fulfill environmental responsibility of local governments and carry out inspection on environmental supervision. For enterprises, the Outline requires the implementation of the national plan for comprehensive attainment of industrial sources; establishment of enterprise’s record on environmental credits and black list of the enterprises with environmental infringements and strengthen self-monitoring of enterprises and disclosure of environmental information. For the public, the Outline supports green consumption, new life style such as green travel and green life, implementation of national action plan for conservation of energy and water as well as smooth public participation channels.
Good system and mechanisms are strong driving force and guarantee for green development. The top priority is better addressing the contradiction between development and protection in terms of system and mechanism. For example in area of developing new systems, the Outline requires protecting the rights and interests of the owners of natural resource assets, impartially sharing the benefits of natural resource assets; establishing and improving eco environment rights and interest trading system and platform; improving tiered electricity pricing mechanism and comprehensive promotion of differential pricing mechanism for domestic use of water and gas. In facilitating coordinated regional development, the Outline requires establishment and improvement of inter-regional mechanism for balance of interests such as compensation for ecological conservation and compensation for resource development. In reform of basic environmental governance system, the Outline requires the establishment of environment quality target responsibility system and assessment mechanism; implementation of vertical management system for monitoring, supervision and law enforcement of environmental protection institutions at or below protection level; joint prevention and control of pollution at river-basin or inter-regional levels as well as urban-rural cooperative governance mode; establishment of emission license system covering all fixed pollution sources and off-office audit on environmental responsibility of local leaders. In improving ecological security guarantee mechanism, the Outline requires establishment of diversified ecological compensation mechanism; improvement of the mechanism of financial support based on ecological conservation performances and eco environment damage assessment and compensation system; and the implementation of life-long accountability system for ecological damages.
The driving force of green development must adhere to innovation. We will develop the industrial structure and production mode with high application of technology, low consumption of resources and less environmental pollution and greatly raise the proportion of green economy. For example in the area of innovation-driven development, the Outline requires developing systematic technical solutions to the bottlenecks of areas including environmental governance. We will identify clean and high-efficiency use of coal, smart power grid and comprehensive environment control of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei as key scientific innovation projects by 2030. For optimizing modern industrial system, the Outline requires establishment as soon as possible of a new and environment-friendly modern industrial system with strong innovative capacity, good quality & services, and close coordination and promoting the development of high-end, smart, green and service-oriented manufacturing industry. We will carry out green manufacturing projects, facilitate life-cycle green management of products and develop green manufacturing system. Moreover, we will greatly facilitate innovation and commercialization of emerging sectors such as high-efficient energy conservation and environmental protection and create a number of new sources of economic growth. These measures will reduce both emission intensity and total amount of pollutants and improve the capacity in pollution control.
(II) The Outline presents the objective of “overall improvement of eco environment quality”
The Outline takes the protection of eco environment as a guidance and important component for structural reform of supply side. It requires “greatly promoting structural reform of supply side so that the supply could meet increasing public and individualized physical, cultural and eco environment need”. Eco environment need for the first time stands side by side with physical and cultural needs and become a basic public need of same importance.
Based on the new objectives for building a well-off society in an all round way, the Outline identifies major targets for economic and social development of the next 5 years, one of them is “overall improvement of eco environment quality”, which is a separate one. It explicitly requires the achievement of green and low-carbon production mode and life style; significant rise of the efficiency of development and use of energy and resources; effective control of energy and water consumption, land for construction purpose and total carbon emissions; great reduction of total discharge of major pollutants; and basic formulation of layout of priority zones and ecological security barriers in the next 5 years.
Among the major indicators on economic and social development of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period, there are 10 indicators on resources and the environment, all compulsory indicators, taking up 77% of all compulsory indicators (13) and 40% of all (25) indicators. They involve heavy tasks, high requirement and strong constraints and indicate the sharp attitude, firm will and determination of CCCPC and the State Council in enhancing the protection of eco environment.
(III) The Outline identifies a series of tasks and measures for protection of eco environment
The Outline makes arrangements in 7 areas such as accelerating the development of priority zones; promotion of conservation and intensified use of resources; more efforts in comprehensive environmental control; enhancing ecological conservation and restoration; active response to global climate change; improvement of the mechanism ensuring ecological security; and development of environmental protection industries. There are the following major characteristics and requirements:
First, focusing on prevention at sources. Prevention is the most economical and effective method to address environmental problems. In the first place, we will develop priority zones, this is spatial strategy of green development. The core is establishing scientific and appropriate land and space development pattern so that various development and construction activities will be under control in macro layout. Meanwhile, different regions should establish their space control system composed of spatial plan, use control and diversified performance examination.
In the strategy for planning coordinated development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Yangtze River Economic Zone, the Outline highlights environmental protection and takes “expanding environment carrying capacity and ecological space” as an important component for coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province. It requires establishment of regional eco environment monitoring network; early warning system as well as coordination and joint action mechanism; strengthening joint prevention and control of air pollution and enhancement of protection of drinking water source areas and identification of ecological red lines. Based on the requirement of “focusing on environmental protection without large scale development” identified by General Secretary Xi Jinping in the Plan for Promoting the Development of the Yangtze River Economic Development Zone, we will take restoration of eco environment of the Yangtze River as the top priority, facilitate protection of water resources and control of water pollution at river basin level and develop it into the demonstration zone, innovation zone and coordinated development zone for ecological civilization of our country.
Second, focusing on the coordination of conservation and protection. The Outline requires that we should establish the idea of intensified and circular use of resources, facilitate fundamental change of the ways of using resources, strengthen the whole process management, greatly improve comprehensive benefits of resources, and identifies specific intensity and total amount control indicators for utilization of water, energy and land.
Third, focusing on environment control. The Outline makes clear the targets and tasks for prevention and control of air, water and soil pollution of the next 5 years. It requires strict implementation of compulsory indicators; development of the plan for meeting urban air quality standard; 25% reduction of the amount of days of cities at or above prefecture level with heavy air pollution; strict protection of the waters and drinking water sources with good quality; enhancement of comprehensive control and improvement of lakes with relatively poor water quality and over 80% attainment rate of water quality of water functional areas of major rivers and lakes. Moreover, it requires prevention and control of soil pollution based on classification and grading system; great promotion of meet-the-standard discharge of pollutants and reduction of total discharge; enhancement of construction of environmental infrastructure and the sewage collective treatment rate meeting 95% for cities at or above prefecture level and 85% for county cities.
Fourth, focusing on systematic protection. The Outline requires that we should adhere to the policy of “protection first and natural restoration in dominance”; facilitate protection and restoration of natural ecosystems; comprehensively improve stability and service functions of various ecosystems; make sound ecological security barriers; improve ecosystem functions in an all round way; facilitate ecological restoration of key regions; expand effective supply of ecological products and conserve biodiversity.
Fifth, focusing on institutional development. The Outline requires that we should strengthen the development of ecological civilization system; improve eco environment protection system; identify and comply with ecological red lines; establish the system managing total amount of forests, grassland and wetlands; set up green taxation system; study and establish ecological valuation system and explore the possibility of developing the balance sheet of natural resources. At present, the accumulated environmental risks of our country begin gradual release and China is entering the period with high environmental risk. We must make strong defense for prevention and control of eco environment risks and carry out whole process management of environmental risks to reduce such risks and properly handle environmental pollution accidents.
Sixth, focusing on the support of key projects. The Outline identifies 6 key projects on improvement and protection of the environment such as full attainment of industrial pollution sources, control of air pollution, control of water pollution, control of soil pollution, prevention and control of hazardous waste pollution and improvement of the capacity in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety. In addition, the Outline also identifies 8 major ecological project such as protection and restoration of national ecological security barrier; land greening campaign; comprehensive improvement of national land; protection of natural forests; new round of returning arable land or pasture to forest or grassland; prevention and control of desertification as well as comprehensive control of water and soil erosion; protection & restoration of wetlands and protection of endangered wild animal and plant species. The sound completion of these major projects on time will provide a strong foundation for improvement of eco environment quality. Meanwhile, we will leave the “green bank” of sustainable development for future generations.
Based on the reality of eco environment protection, these inspiring major arrangements and measures focus on the big picture of building a well-off society in an all round way with clearly defined objectives.
The “Kuznets curve” in environment science reveals the relation between economic development and environmental protection. In short, pollution discharge would gradually increase coupled with degradation of environment quality with economic growth. Then, pollutant discharge amount would reach the peak and then decline with improvement of environment quality after some development stages such as industrial restructuring or slowdown or completion of urbanization. The key of environment governance is low peak and early occurrence of inflection point. Therefore, we take the peak value and inflection point as the macro indicators measuring the efforts of a country in development, environmental protection and pollution control.
There is active change of environmental “Kuznets curve” of our country during the “12th Five-Year Plan” period. The discharge of 4 major pollutants ——COD, ammonia nitrogen, SO2 and NOx has enjoyed continuous decrease and the targets of “the 12th Five-Year Plan” have been met ahead of schedule.
The most prominent environmental change in our country due to reduction of SO2 and NOx emissions is remarkable mitigation of acid rains with total area subject to acid rain reaching the 1990s level.
This indicates that as long as we have correct ideas and strong measures, give full play to the advantage of backwardness, and make persistent efforts, we will surely reduce the total emissions and Improve environmental quality. We have both determination and confidence in better addressing environmental problems in shorter period compared with that of developed countries and achieve greener development.
III. Major activities on environmental protection in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period
The blueprint of the “13th Five-Year Plan” has been created. Next, we will do practical work and carry out a series of arrangements identified in the Outline. Centering on the overall plan for economic, political, social, cultural and ecological development as well as the “Four comprehensives”, we will establish and carry out new ideas on development with innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing as characteristics and focus on improvement of environment quality. Taking the reform of ecological civilization system as the driving force, we will carry out the strictest environmental protection system; successfully prevent and control air, water and soil pollution and promote the reduction of emissions of major pollutants. We will strictly prevent and control environment risks and continuously improve systematic, scientific and fine environmental management with appropriate laws and regulations and application of information technology. We will accelerate the modernization of eco environment governance system and capacity to ensure overall improvement of eco environment quality by 2020.
In general, the philosophy of environmental protection work of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period is mainly reflected by one core; one system; three campaigns; systematic, scientific, legal, fine and informationalized environmental management and completion of five tasks. That is, we should focus on the core of “improvement of environment quality”, implement the strictest environmental protection system, succeed in three campaigns, improve environmental management and complete the key tasks in five areas.
One core is focusing on the improvement of environment quality. The shift from pollution cap control to improvement of environment quality is one of key arrangement and adjustments of CCCPC. Improving environment quality is both the fundamental objective of protection of eco environment and final scale for measuring environmental protection work. In the “13th Five-Year Plan” period, we will focus on environment quality in all areas of environmental protection work, take strong and practical measures and make sound environmental governance achievements so that the public could see, feel and benefit from the improvement of environment quality and enhance their sense of achievement and happiness.
One system refers to implementation of the strictest environmental protection system. This is the third strictest system of the central government followed by the strictest arable land protection system and strictest water resource protection system. “The strictest” reflects the new thinking of enhancing environmental protection at the sources and in the whole process including production, circulation and consumption. The fundamental solution to environmental protection lies in strict prevention at the sources. The key is strict process management and severe punishment of the violators. The implementation of the strictest environmental protection system means establishing systematic and standard incentive and constraint mechanism, enhancing good and effective implementation of relevant policies and developing the environmental governance system with joint efforts of government, enterprises and the public.
Improve systematic, scientific, legal, fine and informationalized level of environmental management. To adapt to the shift from extensive development to the development with good quality and benefits, environmental management should also make active adjustment. Therefore, we identify the transformation into systematic, scientific, legal, fine and informationalized environmental management. “Systematic” refers to overall protection, systematic restoration and comprehensive control of ecosystems based on the idea of “mountain, river, forest, cropland and lake are a community of life” noted by General Secretary Xi Jinping as well as integrity, systematicness and inherent law of ecosystems. “Scientific” focuses on relevance and effectiveness of environmental control measures. Environmental governance should not depend on floor-irrigation conducts and short-term act because of high cost and poor effect. We will comply with scientific approaches to understand why, what and how to improve the environment. “Legal” means employing laws and regulations to constrain the conducts of governments, departments and enterprises; establishing the authority and deterrence of environmental laws; and environmental protection, pollution control and severe punishment according to law. With legal system, we could better release and play the role of economic policies. “Fine” refers to the transformation of past extensive management mode; development of finer and classified measures at different levels and division of responsibility down to each enterprise and individual with higher efficiency of environmental management. “Informationalized” refers to the application of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and “internet +”, which provide basic support to environmental protection, improve management and facilitate transformation of management.
Based on the above philosophy, we will run the idea of green development through the whole process of environmental protection work, intensify the responsibility of local CPC commissions and governments for improvement of environment quality, focus on hard constraints and incentive mechanisms and promote the following major activities in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period.
(I) Divide the targets and tasks of the “13th Five-Year Plan”
The Outline, the “13th Five-Year Plan for Protection of Ecology and Environment, Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution and Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution have their own targets and tasks. The top priority is dividing the targets and tasks down to local government at all levels so that they will shoulder the responsibility for protection of eco environment level by level. To meet the target, we will adhere to environment quality as the core and make clear eco environment quality requirements at province, city and county levels. We will focus on the quality target, improve the target examination & assessment system centering improvement of environment quality, take environment quality indicators as the hard constraint for local CPC commissions and local government and make strict examination and accountability.
(II) Successful prevention and control of air, water and soil pollution
We will further implement the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution. We will attach great importance to ensuring drinking water safety, urge and guide all regions to carry out the whole-process supervision from water source to tap water and make public the information in relation to drinking water safety. We will conduct successful protection of waters with good water quality and ensure their good quality areas such as planning, fund and management. In addition, we will make efforts in the treatment of the “waters with poor quality” and urge local governments to gradually address urban environmental problems such as smell and black waters.
We will release and carry out the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution. The key point is consolidating two bases, highlighting two focuses, facilitating tree big tasks and enhancing three guarantees. The two bases refer to detailed investigation on soil pollution to understand baseline situation and establishment and improvement of regulation and standard system. The two focuses are the requirement for the control of agriculture land and requirement for the control of land for construction purpose. The tree big tasks are presenting the measures for prevention and control of the pollution as well as risk control measures for uncontaminated, being contaminated and contaminated soil. The three guarantees refer to making more efforts in scientific research and development, giving play to the guiding role of the government and strengthening the examination on performances.
People pay attention to the prevention and control of air pollution. Next, I would like talk about the implementation of the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution. We will intensify prevention and control of air pollution in areas such as promoting industrial restructuring and reduction of production capacity, strengthening the control of pollution from bulk coal and vehicles, raising urban management level, enhancing regional joint prevention and control and effective response to weather conducive to heavy pollution.
In facilitating industrial restructuring and reduction of excessive production capacity, we will employ many environmental approaches, strictly control the increase of new production capacity and eliminate excessive production capacity based on the target of central government for reducing excessive production capacity in the next few years. In Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, our main task is reducing the production capacity of heavy and chemical industries such as iron & steel, coal burning and cement and improving green and clean production in industries.
In strengthening the control of the pollution from bulk coal burning and vehicles, we will replace bulk coal with clean energy source by means of district heating, coal-to-gas, coal-to-power and solar energy. In addition, we will focus on the prevention and control of the pollution from vehicles with high emissions such as yellow-label vehicles and heavy-duty diesel vehicles. On the one hand, we will accelerate the phasing out of yellow-label and old vehicles. On the other hand, we will strengthen environmental supervision on newly manufactured vehicles. Centering on heavy-duty diesel vehicles, we will seriously investigate and punish a group of typical enterprises with environmental infringements.
In improving urban environmental management, we will strengthen the control measures for flying dust from public works, construction sites, road construction and industrial stockpiles and so on. In addition, we will intensify the management of dregs transport vehicles, open-air barbecue and restaurant oil fume and effectively control non-point source pollution. Focusing on “industrial clusters”, we will phase out a group of enterprises that discharge pollutants in violation of relevant law or fail to meet emission standard within a given period of time.
In strengthening regional joint prevention and control, we will continuously strengthen joint prevention and control of pollution in key regions with unified plan, standards and monitoring to strive for the attainment of good air quality of the Pearl River delta, Yangtze River delta and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in about 15 years.
In responding to heavy pollution weather, we will guide local governments to enhance their capacity in responding to heavy pollution weather. It includes giving early warning in time based on prediction, carrying out emergency response in accordance with higher level of early warning and reminding the public for health protection. We will promote the unified early warning classification standard for heavy pollution weather with detailed response procedures for key regions. In addition, we will further improve the workability and effectiveness of emergency response measures and guide local governments in this respect.
(III) Deepen all reform measures
First, we will conduct environmental supervision by the central government and implement the policy of “Party and government leaders share the same responsibility” for eco environment protection. At present, the trial supervision on environmental protection of Hebei Province is near the end. It is expected that we will conduct supervision on the work of 15 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities) this year. It is planned that we will complete environmental supervision on local CPC commissions and governments at province level in 2 years, covering all provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities) across the country. For any region with prominent environmental problems, we will conduct special supervision upon the approval of the State Council. Meanwhile, MEP requires that the environmental protection department of each province (autonomous region or municipality) should carry out comprehensive supervision on over 30% municipal governments this year to enhance environmental supervision. It is expected that each province (autonomous region or municipality) will finish comprehensive environmental supervision on the local CPC commission and government of each city and county within its jurisdiction by 2020.
Second, we will carry out vertical management system for environmental monitoring, supervision and law enforcement of environmental protection institutions at or below protection levels. The implementation of vertical management system for environmental monitoring, supervision and law enforcement of environmental protection institutions at or below protection level is a key decision of CCCPC on protection of eco environment and a key reform of environmental management system of our country. It is helps enhance the unity, authority and effectiveness of environmental supervision and could address some problems such as ignorance of environmental protection; interference with environmental monitoring, supervision and law enforcement; no observance and lax implementation of law and the allowance of law-breakers not being punished in some regions. We will conduct trial on vertical management at province level this year and basically complete this reform before 2018 (change of new provincial administration) in order to leave time and room for the work of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period.
Third, we will take back the authority of environmental monitoring. We will establish a national unified real-time on-line environmental monitoring system. We will finish the taking back of environmental monitoring authority of national environmental monitoring stations and water sections under national monitoring program by 2018 and basically achieve full monitoring of environment quality, major pollution sources and ecological status by 2020 with sharing of the monitoring data of various monitoring systems at all levels and coordination of monitoring and supervision. As a result, we will develop a national environmental monitoring network with full coverage, automatic early warning and investigation of the responsibility according to law.
Fourth, we will set up emission license system covering all enterprises with fixed pollution sources. At present, we are conducting trial work in Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province. This year, we are going to extend the trial in thermal power industry and paper making industry as well as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei with relatively big emissions and good management. We will establish management framework and platform. We will firstly complete approval and issuing pollution discharge permits for major pollution sources under national control program by the end of 2017. We will finish the verification and grant of emission licenses for fixed industrial sources across the country by 2020.
Fifth, we will facilitate the development of environmental protection industry. Based on structural reform of supply side, we will facilitate the approaches such PPP, government procurement and the third party governance and greatly promote the development of green and energy-saving industries so that energy-saving and environmental industries become strategic and emerging industries that could stabilize economic growth, adjust economic structure and benefit the people and turn into the new kinetic energy for economic development of our country. We will support the establishment of various green development funds to leverage and guide social investment in environmental protection.
(IV) Strengthen the rule of law in environmental protection
We will continuously make more efforts in law enforcement and primarily develop the new normal for law enforcement in the next 5 years. This year, we will keep on the activities of the implementation year of the newly amended Environmental Protection Law. We will comprehensively carry out the newly amended Law on Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution; simultaneously “supervise the governments” and “supervise enterprises”; pay equal attention to “cracking down environmental infringements” and “standard law enforcement” and raise the efficiency of environmental law enforcement. Focusing on cracking down malicious illegal discharge of pollutants and forgery, we will keep the high-pressure on cracking down environmental infringements. We will carry out the national plan for full attainment of industrial pollution sources according to law. In addition, we will conduct on-line monitoring of all enterprises that discharge pollutants. We will intensity standard development and law enforcement supervision on environmental law enforcement institutions and improve law enforcement for environmental protection.
(V) Greatly promote co-governance of the whole society
Environmental issues belong to the scope of public interests. Every citizen is both the generator and victim of pollution. He should be the person both enjoys and protects good eco environment. Only with “social co-governance” can we “share”. Though minor, the actual effort of each person could develop into great force for environmental protection.
Here, I would like tell you a story about Mr. Liu Detian, the protector of Saunders gull (Larus saundersi). He is the Chairman of Saunders Gull Conservation Society of Panjin City and Vice Chairman of Liaoning Province Environmental Protection Volunteer Association. To protect the endangered species Saunders gull (black-billed gull) and its habitats, Mr. Liu Detian established the “Saunders Gull Conservation Society” in 1991, the first environmental NGO in our country. Not afraid of hardships, he has visited breeding sites of saunders gull, written many articles to introduce Saunders gull and contributed a lot to the publicity and protection of saunders gull over the past two decades. He has made innovation in the modes of environmental communication and created 18 approaches such as literature, art, photography, calligraphy, singing, dance and embroidery to publicize saunders gull. The three legends ── Saunders Gull Save Hanwang, Saunders Gull Save Phoenix and Saunders Gull Save Fishermen ── are included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List (Group I) with the approval of the State Council. A total of over 500000 mu (15 mu = 1 ha) habitat of Larus saundersi (black-billed gull) have been under effective protection with the population increase from 1200 in 1990 to over 8000 now thanks to his great effort, creating a successful case of protection of endangered species by environmental NGOs. He has been elected as “2012～2013 Annual Person of Green China”. His persistent efforts of the past 20 years infect many people who take part in environmental protection activities. Therefore, we should not belittle individual contributions and achievements.
Information disclosure is the prerequisite and foundation for public participation. It is also the most convenient and effective means to ensure the right of public acquisition and supervision. We will comprehensively promote disclosure of the environmental information on air and water, environmental information of polluting enterprises and environmental information of supervision departments. We will improve the mechanism for disclosing EIA information of construction projects; develop national database for pollution sources and establish and improve environmental network report platform and system. In addition, we will create the open internet information system including national, province, prefecture and county levels, expose the government and enterprises to public supervision and examination and enable everyone to become participator, constructor and monitor for environmental protection.
We will continuously make more efforts in promoting public participation. We will mobilize and promote low carbon and green life style from ourselves and from trifles such as saving 1000 W•h electricity, a drop of water, a grain of rice and a piece of paper. We will actively take part in environmental protection activities such as one day off-road, temperature of air conditioner at 26℃ in hot summer and “clear your plat” campaign, make our own contributions to the improvement of environment quality, and create the situation where all people actively protect the environment.
The protection eco environment matters the welfare of both current generation and our future generations. At the starting point of the “13th Five-Year Plan”, we will be determined to overcome difficulties, improve environment quality, make up the short board of eco environment as soon as possible, provide the public with more good ecological products so that everyone could enjoy happy life with blue sky, green land and clean waters.
(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)