MEP releases the 2012 Report on the State of the Environment in China today. According to MEP official, the country's total discharge of COD and NH3 in 2012 reached 24.237 million tons and 2.536 million tons, down 3.05% and 2.62% against 2011 respectively. Emissions of SO2 and NOx totaled 21.176 million tons and 23.378 million tons, a reduction of 4.52% and 2.77% over 2011 respectively.
The official said the monitoring results in 2012 indicated that national environmental quality kept stable, but the situation remained severe.
First, the quality of national water environment allows no optimism. Among the sections under state monitoring program, including sections of the ten big river basins, the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Pearl River, Songhua River, Huaihe River, Haihe River, Liaohe River, rivers in Zhejiang and Fujian Province, rivers in Southwest China and rivers in Northwest China, 68.9% fell in the category of Grade I to Grade III water standard, 20.9% met Grade IV~V water quality standard and 10.2% was inferior to Grade V standard. The Pearl River basin, rivers in Southwest China and rivers in Northwest China enjoyed excellent water quality, water quality of the Yangtze River and rivers in Zhejiang and Fujian Province rated good. The Yellow River, the Songhua River, the Huaihe River and the Liaohe River were of slight pollution and the Haihe River suffered from medium pollution. Among the 60 lakes and reservoirs, 25.0% were rated as eutrophication and 18.3% and 6.7% fell into the category of slight eutrophication and medium eutrophication respectively. Among the 4,929 groundwater monitoring sites in 198 cities, 42.7% posted excellent-good-fairly good water quality whereas 57.3% were rated as poor-bad water quality.
Second, overall water quality of coastal waters of the country was average. 69.4% of the monitoring sites met Grade I or Grade II sea water quality standard, 12.0% met Grade III or Grade IV sea water quality standard and 18.6% was inferior to Grade IV sea water quality standard. Among the four major sea areas, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea registered good water quality while coastal waters of the Bohai Sea was average. The East China Sea saw the worst water quality. Of the nine major sea bays, water quality at the Yellow River estuary was excellent, the Beibu Bay good, the Jiaozhou Bay, the Liaodong Bay and Minjiang river estuary poor and that of the Bohai Bay, the Yangtze River estuary, the Hangzhou Bay and the Pearl River Bay was bad.
Third, national urban air quality was stable on the whole and the distribution zone of acid rain stayed steady. In 2012, Environmental standard on air quality (GB3095-1996) still prevailed in 325 cities above prefecture level. According to the standard, 91.4% of cities met air quality standard. However, since the Environmental standard on air quality (GB3095-2012) was implemented, the up-to-standard rate slumped to 40.9%. Among the 113 key cities on environmental protection, 88.5% of cities met the old standard but only 23.9% reached the new standard. The distribution zone of acid rain mainly covered areas along the bank of the Yangtze River and areas south to the Yangtze River- areas east to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, accounting for 12.2% of the national territory.
Fourth, the national urban acoustic environmental quality was good. In 2012, 79.4% of the cities reached Grade I or Grade II area-wide acoustic environmental quality standard and 77.9% of key cities on environmental protection met Grade I or Grade II standard. 98.1% of cities enjoyed sound road traffic acoustic environment, meeting Grade I or Grade II acoustic standard and 98.2% of key cities on environmental protection met Grade I or Grade II standard. The up-to-standard rate of various functional areas across China at daytime and at night recorded 91.0% and 69.6% respectively.
Fifth, the national radiation environmental quality was good. The environment ionizing radiation level was confined to the natural background level and no obvious change was observed in the level of environmental ionizing radiation within the vicinity of nuclear facilities and nuclear technology application projects. The overall electromagnetic radiation level was sound and no evident change was found in the environment electromagnetic radiation level around electromagnetic radiation and transmission facilities.
Sixth, positive progress was made in ecological civilization building. By the end of 2012, a total of 2,669 nature reserves of various types and levels had been established across China (excluding Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Taiwan Area). The total area of these natural reserves is about 149.79 million hectares, of which land area is about 143.38 million hectares, accounting for 14.94% of China's land area. The total number of national nature reserves is 363, covering an area of 94.15 million hectares.
Seventh, increasingly prominent rural environmental problems emerge. With the continuous advancement of industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, rural environment is faced with serious challenges highlighted in the following aspects: increased pressure from pollution by industrial and mineral productions, exacerbated domestic pollution in some areas and serious pollution from livestock and poultry farms. According to the monitoring result of the pilot project of rural environmental quality conducted in 798 villages across the country, the overall air quality of the pilot villages is relatively good, but drinking water sources and surface water are polluted to different extents. Therefore, rural environmental protection is still faced with serious challenges.
This official indicated that the year of 2012 had a special and important meaning for China's development. We successfully held the 18th CPC National Congress, which has incorporated ecological progress into the ¡°five-in-one¡± overall arrangement of the socialism cause with Chinese characteristics and proposed the goal of promoting ecological progress and building a beautiful China. Our Party has achieved great innovation in its governing philosophy and practice. Our national environmental protection system has resolutely implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee on environmental protection and made positive progress in all key tasks. First, implementing the spirit of the Seventh National Conference on Environmental Protection. A landmark result of this conference is the introduction of the idea of actively exploring new approaches to protect environment emphasizing ¡°protecting the environment in the course of economic development and pursuing economic development in the process of environmental protection¡±. 28 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) have held working meetings on environmental protection and 26 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) have, in the name of local Party committees or governments, issued documents on further strengthening environmental protection. Second, fully accomplishing the annual emission reduction targets of major pollutants. Compared with 2011 level, 2012 total discharge of COD decreased by 3.05%, SO2 by 4.52%, NH3 by 2.62% and NOx by 2.77% respectively nationwide. Third, further exposing the role of environmental protection in the optimization of economic development. The strategic environmental assessment of the Western Development Drive has progressed steadily. MEP approved 240 environmental impact assessment documents on construction projects, which involved a total investment of nearly 1.4 trillion Yuan. Among them, 79 are livelihood and infrastructure construction projects, accounting for half of the total investment. 24 unqualified projects involving 100 billion Yuan investment were either rejected, disapproved or suspended. Fourth, making new progress in solving the livelihood issues. We established and implemented the new standard on air quality. We started monitoring items such as PM2.5 and O3 in accordance with the new standard and timely released the monitoring data in 496 monitoring sites in 74 cities (including such key regions as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, and municipalities directly under the central government and capital cities of provinces). We conducted environmental assessment on urban centralized drinking water source areas in cities above prefecture level across China; allocated special fund of 5.4 billion Yuan for treatment of heavy metal pollution; disposed an accumulative total of 2.3 million tons of historical chromium residue nationwide; continued to extensively carry out special actions of environmental protection; and accomplished the 100-day environmental safety inspection. Fifth, making greater breakthroughs in pollution prevention and control in major river basins, sea areas and regions. The State Council has approved the Plan on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution for Major River Basins (2011-2015) and the 12th Five-Year Plan on Prevention and of Control Air Pollution in Key Regions. We have promoted pollution prevention and control in key lakes, and preliminary improvement in the water quality of major lake basins like Taihu Lake has been achieved. We have also allocated a total of 2.5 billion Yuan special fund to protect lakes with sound ecosystems. Sixth, constantly strengthening ecological and rural environmental protection. Comrade Li Keqiang chaired the first meeting of the National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation, and the China Action Plan for UN Decade on Biodiversity was approved during the meeting. We have set up the satellite remote sensing to monitor human activities and conducted field verification in 363 National Nature Reserves. Across the country, 15 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), over 1,000 counties (cities and districts) and 53 regions have established pilot projects on ecological civilization. The central government has allocated 5.5 billion Yuan of special funds for rural environmental protection to support localities to carry out the comprehensive treatment of rural environment. We have completed the national soil pollution investigation. Seventh, establishing the ecological compensation mechanism at a preliminary level. Since the central government adopted transfer payment to key ecological function zones in 2008, the coverage of transfer payment has been expanded and the amount of fund has been increased. In 2012, the number of beneficial counties (cities and districts) reached 466 and the annual fund increased to 37.1 billion Yuan. Eighth, further ensuring nuclear and radiation safety. The State Council has approved the 12th Five-Year Plan for Nuclear Safety and Prevention & Control of Radioactive Pollution and Vision for 2020. In China, all 15 running nuclear power plants are in safe operation, the quality of the 29 nuclear power plants under construction is kept under control, and 19 civilian research reactors are generally in good conditions. We launched a national comprehensive investigation on radiation safety to inspect nearly 60,000 entities utilizing nuclear technology. Ninth, making solid progress on such work as policies and legal construction, science and technology and environmental monitoring. The revision of the Environmental Protection Law has been carried out in an orderly way. We released the Comprehensive Catalogues for Environmental Protection of 2012, and carried out pilot projects of compulsory environmental pollution liability insurance in 15 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities). We actively promoted the space-ground integration process of environment monitoring and successfully launched the Environment-1C satellite. New progress was made in the implementation of The Major Science and Technology Program for Water Body Pollution Control and Treatment. We issued 68 standards for environmental protection. We successfully hosted the side event of 20th Anniversary China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) at UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the 2012 AGM of CCICED. Tenth, further enhancing capability and team building of environmental protection. The office building construction projects for environmental monitoring and law enforcement have been progressed smoothly. The operating rate and completion rate for these 565 projects are 97% and 65% respectively. We supported 24 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and 163 counties (districts) to develop standardized environmental monitoring stations, and equipped 170 monitoring and law enforcement departments with mobile law enforcement systems and volatile gas detecting devices. We carried out the Mid- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Capable Personnel in Environmental Protection (2010-2020), and trained different types of talents for more than 40,000 person-times.