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Uplifting Ecological Civilization---Writen by MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian

From the strategic height of accelerating economic development mode and opening a new situation in scientific development, the Suggestions of CCCPC on Development of the "12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development" (hereinafter referred to as the Suggestions) adopted by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th National Congress of CPC clearly point out that to address increasing constraint of resources and environment, we must accelerate the development of resource-saving and environment-friendly society and uplift ecological civilization. Centering on the main objectives and tasks during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period , the just closed NPC and CPPCC annual meeting stressed that we should facilitate energy saving and emission reduction, ecological development and environmental protection, and strengthen our capacity in sustainable development in an all round way.
I. Facilitating ecological civilization is a major and urgent strategic task
Development of ecological civilization is a key strategy and task put forward by CPC to implement the outlook on scientific development and address the grave situation of too big cost of resources and environment during rapid economic growth, it is an important component of the overall arrangement for the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Comrade Hu Jintao clearly pointed out: "Developing ecological civilization in nature is the development of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society with good resource & environment carrying capacity as the base, natural law as principle and sustainable development as goal."
Promoting the development of ecological civilization is an effective resource & environment approach to address increasing resource & environment constraint. The unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustained development problem in our country is still pre-eminent, the resource & environment constraint on economic growth becomes stronger. With rapid urbanization and industrialization, expanding economic strength and population, relatively lack of resources and weak environment carrying capacity are basic national conditions of our country during the new development stage. Environment governance and ecological protection of our country have made active achievements over the past years, but the overall degradation trend of eco environment has not been reversed. Water, air and soil pollution are still serious. The  solid waste, vehicle emissions, POPs and heavy metals pollution continues grow with aggravation of water and soil erosion, reduction of natural forests, degradation of grassland and more fragile ecosystem. The total energy consumption is on continuous rise with low energy efficiency. The environmental problems occurred in developed countries of different stages of industrialization process of past 200 years concentrated in current development stage of our country. Only strengthening conservation of environment and resources, developing circular economy and strengthening environmental governance and ecological development can we effectively remove the resource & environment bottleneck constraining economic growth.
Developing ecological civilization is objective requirement for accelerating the transformation of economic growth mode. Accelerating the shift of economic growth mode is the main line of the "12th Five-Year Plan". Development is closely related to the environment. Environmental issues in nature is the issue of economic structure, production pattern and development path. Talking about environmental protection without economic development is "climbing a tree to catch a fish". Talking about economic development without considering environmental protection is "drain the pond to catch all the fish". Environment carrying capacity in increasingly become a main factor constraining the scale and space of economic development. Environmental protection has the role of ensuring, facilitating and optimizing the transformation of economic growth mode. The translation of "target-driven mechanism" of environmental protection into structural adjustment and economic transformation will better promote the whole society following the development path with high productivity, well-off life and good ecology.
Facilitating development of ecological civilization is internal requirement for ensuring and improving welfare. Environmental protection is a key welfare issue. It directly matters life quality, public health and social stability. With rising living standard, the public has increasingly higher requirements for clean water, fresh air, safe food and beautiful environment. We must adhere to the idea "environmental protection for the people; make more efforts in addressing striking environmental problems threatening public health and practically safeguard environmental rights & interests of the public.
Facilitating development of ecological civilization is strategic option for seizing the commanding height for future competition during post-international financial crisis period. The international financial crisis has profound impacts. Global economy is in a new round of restructuring, innovation and development. Global environmental issues such as climate change, energy and resource security and conservation of biodiversity will be major long-term challenges to international society. Green development and circular economy become an important trend for global development. Only employing environmental protection to optimize economic structure and development mode can we seizing new commanding height for economic development of world economy and win initiatives in new round of international competition.
II. Actively exploring new path to environmental protection of China which is low in cost, good in benefits, low in emissions and sustainable in development
Environmental protection is the main platform and fundamental measure for development of ecological civilization and focal point & direction toward sustainable development. One of main objectives of economic and social development during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period identified in the Suggestion is major progress in strategic adjustment of economic structure, significant reduction of energy consumption per unit GDP and CO2 emission, evident decrease of total pollutant emissions and remarkable improvement of eco environment. The Report of the Government by Premier Wen Jiabao clearly points out that by the end of the "12th Five-Year Plan" period, the percent of non-fossil energy in primary energy consumption will go up to 11.4% with 16% reduction of energy consumption per unit GDP and 17% reduction of CO2 emission; 8%~10% reduction of total discharge of major pollutants and 600 million m3 increase of forest reserve. Over the past 30 odd years, some regions of our country confine the discussion to environmental protection or pollution at issue, even follow the old path of "treatment after pollution" and pay too big environment cost. It is our way out to follow new path to environmental protection that is small in cost, good in benefits, low in emission and sustainable in development based on basic national conditions and centering on the theme of scientific development, main line of shifting economic development mode and new requirement for uplifting ecological civilization.
"Small in cost" refers to adherence to harmony between environmental protection and economic development and supporting greater scale economic activities with minimum resource & environment cost. "Good in benefits" refers to adherence to overall plan for environmental protection and socio-economic development and seeking for the best environmental, economic and social benefits. "Low in emission" refers to adherence to combination of pollution prevention and environment governance and minimizing the adverse environmental impacts of economic & social activities. "Sustainable in development" refers to adherence to the combination of environmental protection with long-term development. With development of resource-saving and environment-friendly society, we will promote sustainable economic and social development. The requirements for "small in cost, good in benefits, low in emission and sustainable in development" will be reflected in all fields of national economic system and all areas of social organization system. Employing environment carrying capacity to optimize regional layout, environment improvement to force the shift of development mode and eco development to create environmental advantages are the fundamental measures for effective mitigation of pressure on environmental governance and reverse of biological degradation.
III. Accelerating the development of resource-saving and environment-friendly society and strive for improvement of ecological civilization
In view of increasing constraints of resources and environment, we must strengthen our sense of crisis; establish green and low carbon development idea; set up the incentive & constraining mechanism focusing on energy saving and emission reduction; accelerate the development of resource-saving and environment-friendly way of production and consumption, and raise our capacity in sustainable development.
Actively addressing global climate change.
Climate change is both an environment issue and a development issue. Our government sets the following targets: It is expected that by 2020, CO2 emission per unit GDP will go down by 40%—45% compared with 2005 level. Significant reduction of energy consumption intensity and CO2 emission intensity will be compulsory targets to effectively control GHG emissions. To combat climate change, we mainly start out work from aspects such as mitigation, adaptation and capacity building. In mitigation, we will firmly facilitate industrial structure, production pattern and consumption mode conducive to conservation of energy & resources and environmental protection; vigorously save energy & resources and raise energy efficiency; adjust energy consumption mix with higher percent of non-fossil fuel energy. We will keep on facilitating afforestation, raise forest coverage, add forest reserve and raise carbon sink capacity. In strengthening adaptation capacity, we will beef up early warning of and response to various extreme weather and climate events; we will establish and improve GHG emission & energy saving and emission reduction statistic monitoring system. We will strengthen scientific research, speed up R&D of low carbon technologies and gradually set up carbon emission trade market. In international cooperation, we will adhere to the common but differentiated responsibility principle and shoulder reduction responsibility & obligation in accordance with development level of our country.
Deepening emission reduction
COD discharge went down by 12.45% and SO2 emissions went down by 14.29% in the "11th Five-Year Plan" period when both economic growth and total consumption of energy exceeded the plan targets. The national government has taken four major pollutants including COD, SO2, ammonia nitrogen and NOx as compulsory targets during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period, so the task of emission reduction will still be hard. We will carry out emission reduction target responsibility system and enhance reduction and control of pollutants. We will put emission reduction by industrial restructuring at a more striking position; and keep on strengthen emission reduction by projects and management. We will speed up construction of sewage treatment plants and raise sewage treatment rate and loading capacity. We will make more efforts in prevention and control of pollution of major river basins such as the "three rivers & lakes", Songhua River, Xiaoliangdi Reservoir and Three Gorges Reservoir areas of Yellow River, sources of and areas along the South-North Water Diversion lines. We will effectively control urban air pollution; keep on enhancement of desulphurization of coal-fueled power plants; practically beef up denitrification of power plants; and strictly control emissions of vehicles. We will Taking regional atmospheric environment as a whole, we will make relevant plan. We will make more efforts in developing a new mechanism for joint prevention and control of regional air pollution with "unified plan, monitoring, supervision, assessment and coordination".
Vigorously developing circular economy
The Suggestions and Work Report of the Government put forward a series of requirements for facilitating development of circular economy including the followings: taking high efficiency of resources, we will strengthen planning, guidance and policy support in terms of finance & taxation; improve laws & regulations; carry out producer extended responsibility system and facilitate development of circular economy in production, circulation and consumption. We will accelerate the development of resource recycling industry; strengthen comprehensive use of mineral resources; encourage recycling & reuse of industrial waste; improve renewable resource recycling system and garbage classification & recycling system. We will facilitate commercialization of recycling & reuse of resources. We will develop and apply the technologies such as source reduction, circular use, re-manufacturing, zero emission and industrial link; facilitate typical mode of circular economy and trial on low carbon cities. These specifications are specific and clear and require many measures and efforts to do well.
Focusing on addressing pre-eminent environmental problems threatening public health
The Suggestions point out: "Focusing on addressing striking environmental problems threatening public health such as unsafe drinking water and air & soil pollution, we should strengthen comprehensive environmental control and significantly improve environmental quality". We will continuously beef up measures for management of drinking water protected areas and do well our work on ensuring safety of drinking water. We will implement the "12th Five-Year Plan for Comprehensive Prevention and Control of Heavy Metals Pollution" as soon as possible; investigate and eliminate environmental risks of enterprises discharging pollutants including heavy metals and their surrounding areas in an all round way and effectively address pre-eminent environment problems in key regions, industries and enterprises under focal prevention and control program. We will focus on comprehensive environmental control of chemical enterprises along rivers and lakes and vigorously curb rising trend of environmental accidents in chemical industry. We will beef up capacity building in nuclear and radiation safety supervision. We will effectively control urban noise. We will make more efforts in supporting "employing reward to facilitate pollution control" policy in rural areas, control agricultural non-point pollution, implement rural clean project, launch the "area-targeted pollution control" in an all round way and develop clean water sources, field and homeland.
Practically protecting and restoring ecology
We will adhere to the principle of protection first & natural restoration in dominance and reverse the degradation trend of eco environment at the source. We will carry out major project on eco restoration, consolidate the achievements in protection of natural forests and "grain for green" program and successfully protect grassland and wetlands. We will keep on promoting comprehensive control of desertification and stony desertification. We will strengthen protection and management of nature reserves, major eco function areas and coastal areas, speed up control of water and soil erosion, keep on cultivating water resources and soil and beefing up capacity in fighting against sand and develop national eco security. We will conserve biodiversity and combine effective protection with appropriate utilization of biological resources. We will ecologically restore important ecosystems including rivers and lakes.
Improving systems and mechanisms conducive to environmental protection
We will speed up the development of macro strategy system for environmental protection of China, comprehensive pollution prevention and control system; and improve high-efficiency environment governance system, well-established environment laws, regulations, policy and standard system, complete environmental management system and social action system with public participation that are suitable to basic national conditions of our country. We will further deepen EIA system, carry out strict environmental access policy and supervision on law enforcement; improve accountability system for major environmental events and pollution accidents and keep on special environmental protection campaigns. We will focus on the application of market tools, speed up the establishment of eco-compensation mechanism, actively facilitate pricing reform of resource products and environmental protection charge, reform resource tax in an all round way, collect environmental protection tax, improve environmental science & technology and economic policies such as green taxation, green securities, green procurement and green trade. We will establish and improve "polluters pay" system, and set up diversified environmental protection investment & financing mechanism and vigorously develop environmental protection industry.

 

(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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