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MEP Explains the National 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection
The National 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection (hereinafter referred to as the Plan) distributed recently by the State Council identifies "practically addressing preeminent environmental problems" as an important task for planning. Focusing on addressing preeminent environmental problems such as unsafe drinking water as well as air and soil pollution, this Plan requires that we should strengthen comprehensive control of water, air and non-point pollution and significantly improve eco environment quality.
As an important component of national plan system, this plan, whose development lasts for three years, is causing wide attention. A journalist interviewed an official from Department of Finance and Planning of MEP about the Plan.
Banning the development of land that has not been subject to assessment and environment-friendly treatment
This official said, the major objectives of environmental protection during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period are significant reduction of total discharge of major pollutants; effective guarantee of environment safety of urban-rural drinking water source areas with big improvement of water quality, effective control of heavy metal pollution; remarkable achievements in prevention and control of the pollution by POPs, hazardous chemicals and waste; improvement of both construction and operation of urban environmental infrastructure; reverse of the degradation trend of eco environment; evident enhancement of capacity in supervision on nuclear and radiation safety; further improvement of nuclear and radiation safety and environment supervision system.
In protection of water environment, we should strictly protect drinking water sources; deepen prevention and control of water pollution of river basins and improve environmental quality. Meanwhile, we should strengthen the protection of lakes and rivers with good water quality and fragile ecology; comprehensively prevent and control marine environment pollution and ecological damage; further facilitate prevention and control of groundwater pollution and carry out trial work on remedy of groundwater pollution sites.
In prevention and control of atmospheric pollution, we will carry out synchronized removal of sulfur and nitrogen and comprehensive control of many kinds of pollutants. In key areas such as the "three regions and six city clusters", we will monitor ozone and PM2.5; strengthen the control of particulates, volatile organic compounds and toxic waste gases; improve the mechanism for joint prevention and control of atmospheric pollution and strengthen joint law enforcement inspection and significantly reduce acid rain, haze and smog.
In protection of soil environment, the Plan requires that we should strengthen the development of soil environmental protection system, enhance supervision on soil environment, and start trial and demonstration work on treatment and remedy of contaminated sites and soil pollution. It is prohibited to transfer, develop and utilize the contaminated land that has not been assessed and environment-friendly treatment.
In protection and supervision on ecology, we will strengthen protection and development of national key eco function areas. It is plan that by 2015, the area of land nature reserves will account for 15% of total national land area and 90% the species under national key protection program and typical ecosystems will be under protection.
The actual reduction of major pollutants will be over 30%~40%
The Plan identified 7 main indicators, that is, four major pollutants such as COD, ammonia nitrogen, SO2 and NOx under total discharge control, two environmental quality indicators for surface water environment and one atmospheric environment quality indicator.
This official said, this Plan has more indicators, bigger pressure, smaller potential and higher requirement compared with the "11th Five-Year Plan". The amount of compulsory indicators go up from two to four, ammonia nitrogen and NOx are included in addition to COD and SO2, the total ammonia nitrogen and NOx emissions will decrease by 10% respectively compared with that of 2010, the reduction of COD discharge and SO2 emission will go down by 8% compared with that of 2010. With smaller potential of emission reduction by pollution control projects during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period and continuous economic development and growth of resources and energy consumption, it is expected that the actual reduction of discharge of major pollutants will be over 30%~40%.
Meanwhile, there is bigger pressure on and higher requirements for improvement of environmental quality. Therefore, there are changes in surface water environment indicators, monitoring sites and assessment factors. Adjustment has been done to the implementation scope of atmospheric environment quality, which expands from 113 major cities on environmental protection to 333 cities at or above prefecture level with stricter assessment criterion.
During the "12th Five-Year Plan" period, China will deepen and improve the system of reducing total discharge of pollutants and take the control of total discharge of major pollutants as one of the bases for making decisions on regional and industrial development.
Increase of pollution control indicators, expansion of the areas subject pollution control, more efforts in the control of total pollution discharge in key industries and highlighting regional characteristics will become strong measures for reduction of major pollutants. Among them, the control of NOx emissions from vehicles and ships, appropriate control of energy consumption amount, strategic adjustment of energy mix and exploration of appropriate method to control the amount of in-service vehicles in cities and so on are the highlights.
This official said, in view of high occurrence of pollution accidents, the Plan for the first time takes "strengthening prevention and control of environmental risks in key fields and safeguarding environment safety" as an important task and takes nuclear and radiation, heavy metals, hazardous wastes, POPs and hazardous chemicals as the focuses for prevention and control of environmental risks.
The demands for investment in environmental protection and pollution control of the whole society is about 3.4 trillion yuan
The Plan presents eight key projects including emission reduction, improvement of welfare and the environment, rural environmental protection benefiting the people, protection of eco environment, prevention of environmental risks of key fields, ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, public service of environment infrastructure, ensuring the capacity in environmental supervision and development of talents. This official said, according to estimate, the total investment demand for environmental protection and pollution control will be about 3.4 trillion yuan (estimate as the price of current year and not including operational fee) during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period, taking up about 1.4% of GDP of the same period. The investment demands for the eight priority key projects will be about 1.5 trillion yuan.
The input in key projects will be dominated by enterprises and local governments at all levels, the central government will give support based on different circumstances. To ensure the investment for key projects in place, the Plan requires that we should make full use of market mechanism, study and develop policy measures, encourage social funds to invest in environmental protection, develop diversified investment pattern and ensure in place of the investment for key projects.
The Plan specifies that local people’s governments are the subject for implementation of the Plan and shall carry out interim assessment of the implementation at the end of 2013 and final assessment at the end of 2015. The assessment and examination results will be reported to the State Council and made public and serve as important component of the performance of local government.

(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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