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National Conference on Environmental Protection Opens in Beijing
On Jan. 25, the 2010 National Conference on Environmental Protection was held in Beijing. MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian attended the meeting and made a speech. He stressed that the environmental system should implement the spirit of the 17th CPC Congress, the 3rd and 4th plenary sessions of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Central Economic Working Conference in the new year and combine environmental protection with national strategies of promoting transformation of economic development mode, adjustment of economic structure and guarantee and improvement of people's livelihood. All this aimed to solve outstanding environmental problems harming public health and affecting sustainable development, accomplish the reduction target of the 11th Five-Year Plan so that we would make big strides forward on the new path to environmental protection and make more contributions to building ecological civilization and promoting balanced and sustainable development of the economy and society.
Zhou reviewed the new achievements of environmental protection made in the past year amid the combat against international financial crisis. He said that the year 2009 was the most difficult year for China's economic development since the new century and also a year of struggle and test of the CPC in its leadership of people of all nationalities. Facing the impact of the financial crisis, the national environmental system pressed ahead with firm determination. They implemented arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in earnest, grasped the main task of exploring a new path to environmental protection and followed the guidance of doing a good job under the circumstance of international financial crisis. Environmental staff focused on key environmental problems doing harm to people's health, supported the overall strategy and introduced innovative measures, making new achievements in various fields.
First, environmental protection participated in macro economic regulation and control and played an important role in maintaining growth and adjusting economic structure. MEP was strict with project EIA approval. It approved over 400 eligible EIA documents with a total investment of 2.7 trillion yuan, and denied or suspended 49 redundant projects that were energy-intensive and might cause serious pollution and overcapacity. These projects cost a total investment of 190.48 billion yuan. The work on EIA for plans progressed smoothly. MEP unveiled Regulations on Environmental Impact Assessment for Plans and issued Technical Guidelines for EIA for Plans. EIA for plans was carried out in the coastal economic belt of Liaoning Province, Jiangsu Province and key development zone of Hengqin, Guangdong and for subway transport plans in 30 key cities. EIA on 10 planned major ports were completed.
Second, notable achievement was made in pollution reduction. Pollution reduction was progressing through engineering programs, restructuring and environmental management and the implementation of target responsibility system. The newly increased sewage treatment capacity nation wide reached 13.3 million tons per day, desulphurization units in coal-fired power plants increased by 102GW. 26.17GW small coal-fired units were phased out. Outdated production capacity in iron, steel making, coking, cement and paper industry totaled 20.1 million tons, 16.4 million tons, 18.09 million tons, 74.16 million tons and 1.5 million tons respectively. Rough estimates showed that COD discharges and SO2 emissions in 2009 continued the downward trend. The reduction target for SO2 emissions set in the 11th Five-Year Plan was achieved a year ahead. The number of sections under national monitoring network with water quality between Grade I and Grade III surface water quality standard went up by 0.5 percentage points compared with the same period of 2008. Among the 113 key cities for environmental protection, the proportion of cities with air quality up to or superior to Grade II national air quality standard jumped by 8 percentage points.
Third, new progress was made in pollution control in key river basins and regions. Inter-ministerial joint meetings on water pollution control were held to address problems in Songhua River, Huaihe River and the upper and middle reaches of Yellow River. Water quality assessment system was established for cross-provincial sections in key river basins. Eco safety assessment of the nine lakes and reservoirs was completed and investigations made on the environmental conditions in urban drinking water source areas. MEP reviewed the successful experience in delivering good environmental quality during Beijing Olympic Games and made arrangements on joint prevention and control of pollution in the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta to guarantee success of Shanghai Expo and Guangzhou Asian Games.
Fourth, environmental law enforcement and emergency response management were carried out steadily. MEP teamed up with nine ministries under the State Council to launch a special inspection on heavy metal pollution and promoted experience in environmental improvement in manganese-polluting region. Special environmental campaigns disclosed over 10,000 illegal cases and 119 people were held accountable. Environmental actions carried out included post-inspection of drinking water source protection zone, special examination of projects satisfying the needs of expanding domestic demand and guaranteeing growth, environmental law enforcement along the Yangtze River, law enforcement inspection on large scale raising farms, investigation of hidden danger of tailing pond and safety check for the celebration of 60th anniversary of the founding of the New China. These moves have safeguarded people's environmental rights and interest. Whole-process management of environmental emergency response was strengthened to promote the building of emergency response management system.
Fifth, we continued to enhance rural environmental protection and conservation of natural ecology. Intensified implementation of reward-based pollution control has supported 1460 villages to improve environment and develop eco demonstration projects. Over 9 million people directly benefited from the policy and a good number of villages took on a new look. Efforts were made to prepare Opinions on Further Building Ecological Demonstration Zone, assessment made on 50 nature reserves nation wide and 16 national nature reserves were newly added. Investigation and supervision of species resources were intensified.
Sixth, fruitful results were achieved in the three programs for emission reduction and the early work of the 12th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection progressed smoothly. The general survey on pollution sources got to the bottom of pollutants on their generation, treatment and emissions, which helped to find out about pollution discharges from agricultural sources. The macro strategic study on China's environment successfully completed the set targets, putting forward the new idea of exploring a new path to environmental protection and the countermeasures of environmental protection in the new phase. The special program on water body pollution control was in full implementation and some projects and research have achieved phased results. Work meeting on the preparatory work of the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection was held, where the thought on the plan's guidelines, principle, main objectives, key projects and policy guarantee was basically formed.
Seventh, policy and legal system and capacity building continued to advance. The environmental economic policy system was constantly improved. The pilot work on environmental pollution liability insurance shaped up nicely. Green credit policy continued to deepen with over 40,000 pieces of environmental information incorporated into the credit management system of the People's Bank of China. Reform of environmental taxation was on the move. The supportive role of science and technology for environmental protection was reinforced. A number of key technologies for pollution reduction in chemical, pharmaceutical, metallurgy and chemical fiber sectors have made breakthrough. Transformation of environmental monitoring was accelerated with up-to-standard rate of waste water and waste gas discharged from sections under national monitoring network and companies reaching 12 percentage points and 13 percentage points respectively. The average up-to-standard rate of sewage treatment plant grew by 9 percentage points. Influence of environmental publicity and education kept on expanding, creating a sound atmosphere that all the people support and participate in environmental protection. International cooperation has further strengthened.
Eighth, major breakthrough was made in supervision system for nuclear and radiation safety. The ministry proposed to strengthen supervision of nuclear and radiation safety, which received high attention of the CPC leadership and related departments. Safety supervision on nuclear technology application has been tightened and occurrence of radioactive source-related accidents showed downward trend. Nuclear power units were in safe operation. Research reactors and nuclear fuel recycling facilities did not cause any accidents affecting the environment.
Ninth, the building of environmental team and environmental protection ministry was constantly strengthened. The structure of work team was further optimized and more training was organized. MEP completed study and practice of Scientific Outlook on Development in success and its staff has taken Scientific Outlook on Development as a political belief, truth of science and action guide. It has become a broad consensus among party members. The ministry was managed by strict standard and tried to set a good example for others. New steps were taken to build the agency into a clean and resource-saving department standing out in study, service quality, rule of law and advocation of harmony. A favorable atmosphere of pioneering was taking shape. 
Zhou said that the biggest achievement of environmental work in the past year was that people's thought on promoting ecological civilization and exploring a new path to environmental protection was more unified, their awareness for building ecological civilization got stronger and more effective measures were taken to safeguard people's rights and interest. The road to optimize economic growth through environmental protection was unfolding. 
Zhou said, “The past thirty years of reform and opening up witnessed rapid development of China's environmental course. This was also a period when we have unswerving explored the new path to environmental protection. We have firmly probed the objective through successful experience and bitter lessons. The new situation and tasks require us to deepen our understanding toward the necessity and urgency of exploring a new path to environmental protection, its direction and principle, and the framework of the exploration effort. During the process of exploration we must combine environment and economic development, promoting transformation of economic development pattern and adjustment of economic structure. We should put environmental protection at a more important position and accelerate historic transformation. We must solve outstanding environmental problems that concern people's well being to make environmental protection serve the interest of the people. We aim to achieve harmony between man and nature and rehabilitate rivers and lakes. We must make system and mechanism innovation and try to form a strong synergy of environmental protection among society as early as possible. We need to handle the relationship between part and the whole so as to formulate macro strategic policies for environmental protection fit into China's reality. The relation between prevention and control should be well addressed and a precautionary system for comprehensive control and prevention be established. We need to have wise analysis of cost and effect to improve environmental governance system. A good handle of incentives and restraints will help us to develop environmental regulations, standards and policies in agreement with China's economic development. We should treat unified supervision and divided responsibility in a right manner to build a full-fledged environmental management system. We should correctly handle the relationship between regulation, guidance and self-discipline to form a social action system where all citizens participate in environmental protection. ”
Zhou stressed that the year 2010 was a decisive year for people's to accomplish environmental tasks set by the 11th Five-Year Plan. It was also a critical time to design the 12th Five-Year environmental plan. Good performance of this year requires us to fully implement the spirit of the 17th CPC Congress, the 3rd and 4th session of the 17th Central Committee of the CPC and the Central Economic Work Meeting. We should follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, thoroughly implement Scientific Outlook on Development, promote ecological civilization and actively explore a new path to environmental protection. Environmental protection should be combined with transformation of economic development mode, pollution reduction, strategic adjustment of economic structure, environmental governance and improvement of the people's well being. Our focus is to solve prominent environmental issues harming public health and sustainable development. To achieve this goal, we will give full play to the comprehensive role of environmental protection in optimizing economic growth, finish the pollution reduction targets of the 11th Five-Year Plan and make more effort in capacity building. We will further promote pollution control and prevention in river basins, regions and rural areas, properly handle environmental accidents, hence doing our part in boosting balanced, sustainable development of the economy and society. We must pay attention to the following ten areas: 
1. Earnestly implementing the decisions and arrangements of the central government and grasping opportunities to promote the development of environmental cause. We should study the important speeches and instructions made by leaders of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, acquire correct understanding of economic and environmental situation home and abroad and take full advantage of policies made by different departments, party committees and local governments in favor of environmental protection. We will formulate and improve all kinds of development and implementation plans and aim for new progress in the mechanisms for environmental organizations, nuclear and radiation safety supervision, environmental law enforcement at grassroots level and environmental monitoring. Active effort will be made to prepare for the 7th National Congress on Environmental Protection.
2. Making greater achievements in pollution reduction on condition that the reduction targets are secured. We need to carry out General Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Pollutant Discharge Reduction issued by the State Council and accelerate networking of online monitoring system of desulphurization facilities of coal-fired power plants, sewage treatment plants and key polluting companies under state control. Verification of pollution reduction should be well prepared. Pollution reduction will be carried out intensively through economic restructuring, project development and management. Outdated production capacity will be phased out in iron smelting, electric power, cement, coking and paper making by 20 million tons, 10GW, 50 million tons, 20 million tons and 520,000 tons. Newly added sewage treatment capacity will reach 10 million cubic meters per day and that of newly installed desulphurization units 50GW. Air pollutants emitted from iron & steel, non-ferrous metal and cement sectors will be slashed. High attention will be paid to water pollution discharge from chemical, brewery and printing & dyeing sectors. We will improve the desulphurization efficiency of power companies, step up construction of supporting facilities for urban sewage treatment and make every effort possible to ensure effective operation of established sewage treatment plants, desulphurization facilities and corporate pollution control facilities. We will strive to cut additional 400,000 tons of SO2 on the level of 2009 and 200,000 tons of COD based on the reduction target of the 11th Five-Year Plan.
3. Strengthening environmental impact assessment system, improving environmental standards and promoting transformation of economic growth pattern and economic restructuring. We should carry out regulations on environmental impact assessment of plans faithfully and speed up effort to develop a guideline for EIA of special plans for national economic and social development. Standardization is needed for EIA of plans on key areas and industries. EIA of development plan for energy-and-resource-intensive and heavy pollution industry as well as key river basins and regions should be the focus of our attention. Strategic EIA of five major areas will be advanced which include Bohai Rim, west bank of the Taiwan Strait, Beibu Bay, Chengyu area and the energy and chemical area in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River. EIA of construction projects will be deepened. Approval process will be quickened for eligible projects which may benefit people's livelihood and economic restructuring, whereas projects in energy-intensive, heavily polluting and overcapacity industries will be strictly controlled. EIA documents for projects involved in overcapacity and redundant construction industries that fail to carry out EIA of plans according to law and those involved in development of river basins and development zones will be rejected. Special campaigns will be launched to deal with environmental violations and outstanding problems will be rectified. We will perfect environmental standard system and build new systems for environmental quality standard, pollution sources monitoring standard and clean production standard.
4. Concentrating on heavy metal pollution and other outstanding environmental problems harming public health. Investigation on environment and health will be conducted in key areas to ascertain key control areas, sectors, companies and high risk population and solve a group of notable environmental problems. Trial work will begin on soil pollution rehabilitation and comprehensive plan for prevention and control of heavy metal pollution will be prepared intensely. Soil contaminated by excessive heavy metal will be remedied through various means. We should do a solid work to guarantee safety of drinking water sources, complete the division and adjustment of protection zones for concentrated drinking water sources and develop measures for management of dispersive drinking water sources. Hastened effort is needed to introduce National Plan for Protection of Urban Drinking Water Sources and Plan for Prevention and Control of Groundwater Pollution. We will continue prevention and control of industrial pollution by releasing guidelines on pollution prevention and control of key sectors and improving access system of hazardous chemicals. 
5. Taking advantage of the assessment and accountability system and promoting pollution control in key river basins and regions. Assessment should be strengthened according to the strict requirement set by Measures on Assessment of Implementation of Special Plans for Water Pollution Control in Key River Basins. More effort should be made to devise separate pollution control plans for the nine major key lakes and reservoirs. Plan for Regional Control of Air Pollution should be carried out and joint prevention and control of air pollution in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province will be further improved. Regional pollution control will be promoted in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and other regions. Control of SO2 and particulates will be reinforced to ensure up-to-standard air quality during Shanghai Expo and Guangzhou Asian Games. Industrial and NOx pollution control will begin with coal-fired power generation and automobile industry. Whole-process risk control and supervision of hazardous waste and medical waste will be strengthened. Investigation of regional pollution from centralized disposal of electronic waste and environmental risk assessment should be completed.
6. Advancing reward-based pollution control and stepping up environmental protection and ecological conservation in rural areas. More investment will be made in rural environmental protection which should prioritize villages with protruding environmental problems in key river basins, regions and key counties for poverty relief. Dispersive and low-cost sewage treatment mode that is easy to manage will be promoted in scattered villages in poor and remote areas, so that environmental infrastructure can be shared by both rural and urban areas. Investigation and assessment of the situation and functions of eco system will be carried out and supervision and assessment of nature reserves will be strengthened. Solid steps will be taken to build environment-friendly society and resource-saving society. The campaign for building national model city on environmental protection and ecological demonstration area will continue.
7. Defending the bottom line of environmental security and strengthening law enforcement supervision and emergency response management. The campaign on rectifying illegal polluters and safeguarding public health will be deepened and more effort will be made to supervise handling of typical cases, investigate responsibility and ex post inspection. Trial of environmental law enforcement checkup will be initiated on a large scale and coordination system be improved for trans-provincial dispute over law enforcement and environmental pollution. We must do a good job in investigation of environmental risk sources and hidden dangers of tailing pond. Environmental contingency plan should be improved as soon as possible in order to handle emergencies properly. The safety supervision system should be improved to meet the need of rapidly-developing nuclear cause. Supervision of nuclear facilities in operation should be tightened and active measures will be taken to control radioactive pollution left over by history. Stricter requirement will be set on application of nuclear technology and management of electromagnetic radiation to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.
8. Making more progress in environmental science & technology, monitoring, policy & legislation, publicity & education and international cooperation. Active promotion of environmental legislation is needed and the effort to improve environmental economic policies will be quickened. A set of system for green credit, insurance, taxation, purchase and trade will be further improved together with measures for compensated use and trading of pollution discharge permit. We will press ahead with innovation in environmental science and technology and development of environmental standard and management system for environmental technology. Preparation should be made to address climate change and acclerated effort will be made the boost the development of environmental industry. We will further improve monitoring of environmental quality, expand the application scope of remote sensing monitoring results of environmental satellites so as to promote the integration of space and land-based technologies. National environmental monitoring network will be optimized to improve environmental quality assessment. Environmental promotion should highlight theme design. Innovative methods and full-fledged mechanism are needed to promote ecological civilization and the theoretical and practical results of exploration of a new path to environmental protection, which will help to create a sound atmosphere for smooth progress of environmental work. We will continue to expand international cooperation and exchanges and promote negotiation of international environmental convention and implementation work within China.
9. Making full use of the achieved results and promoting preparation of the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection. We should sum up the environmental work in the 11th Five-Year Plan period, absorbing results of the macro strategic study of China's environment, the survey on pollution sources and special research on water pollution, intensifying research on major issues and breaking down objectives, indicators, key projects, major reform and policy measures. Preparation of the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection will be launched. A set of special plans should be developed quickly including prevention and control of pollution, control of total pollution discharge and capacity building, conservation of nature and ecology and rural environmental protection, which will contribute to a complete system for the 12th Five-Year Environmental Plan. A trial scheme will be made on environmental function zoning as an attempt of new environmental management featuring zone-to-zone management and category-by-category guidance.
10. Furthering the building of our thought, institution, work style, business and system and building up the capacity of environmental system. We will further enhance the building of our thought, institution, work style, business and system in order to improve our solidarity, creativity, effectiveness of combat and implementation. We will carry out the activity promoting the character, morality and exemplary role of CPC members and provide more chance of training and promotion to excellent cadres to inject vitality of the team. Attention will be paid to party discipline education, the building of supervision mechanism over exercises of administrative power and anti-corruption campaign.
Zhou highlighted that the new journey had begun where all environmental staff, centering around the CPC Central Committee headed by Secretary General of Hu Jintao, should pioneer and make strenuous effort to win the final stage of battle. We should carefully plan for new development and live up to the expectation of the time, history and the people, aiming at outstanding achievements and making greater contributions to the grand goal of building an all-round well-off society. 
The meeting was chaired by MEP Vice Minister Pan Yue. Participants included Vice Minister Zhang Lijun, Wu Xiaoqing, Li Ganjie, leader of the Discipline Inspection Group Fu Wenjuan, Member of the leading party members' group Hu Baolin, Chief Engineer Wan Bentai, Chief Engineer on Nuclear Safety Lu Xinyuan and senior ministerial officials Zhu Guangyao, Wang Xinfang and Wang Yuqing.

(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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