Ministry of Environmental Protection Takes Tougher Position on Emission Reduction

By Zhang Zhe
Published: 2010-05-21

News, Page 4, issue 469, May 17
Translated by Tang Xiangyang
Original article

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has held a national video conference announcing their decision to punish thirteen provincial governments and enterprises who have done an unsatisfactory job at environmental protection and emission reduction of carbon and sulfides.

The ministry also warned local governors to reach the reduced carbon emission targets outlined in the 11th Five-year Plan on time or face punishment; 2010 is the final year of China's 11th Five-year Plan.

To ensure provincial governments and enterprises reach the targets, the ministry will implement six severe measures and hold local governors responsible if they fail to reach the goals.


The national video conference held by the MEP on the afternoon of May 13 was the first time the MEP has publicized the punishment of provincial governments and enterprises.

"The head of the ministry announced the punishment himself. Provincial governments and enterprises listed will face immense pressure and local environmental protection bureaus will face even more," a source with the MEP said.

Planned construction projects by sewage treatment plants in Shuangyashan City in Heilongjiang Province and Wenzhou City in Zhejiang Province which would increase chemical oxygen demand have been temporarily suspended because the treatment plants have not yet reached emission standards set by the MEP.

Tianjin Gangdong, Wuliangye Group and eight other companies have also been required to improve their sewage treatment plant facilities to meet MEP standards.

Hunan Lianyuan Iron and Steel Group have had their ability to approve new projects that would emit sulfur dioxide suspended until they complete construction of desulphurization facilities. Echeng Steel Company in Hubei Province and Dazhou Steel Group in Sichuan Province have been required to reconstruct their desulphurization facilities and suspend production until their new facilities have been approved.

The MEP has ordered its local subsidiaries to take a tough position towards local regions who have not reached the carbon emission reduction targets outlined in 2009 and enterprises who have produced serious amounts of pollution.

It is believed that the government's decision to curb skyrocketing housing prices will also be helpful in reducing carbon emission because it will lead to less housing construction.

Six Major Measures

"We have a tough assignment this year we have to finish. Provincial governments are very nervous due to the pressure being placed on them to reach environmental protection goals," a participant in the video conference said.

Currently, eastern China is leading the rest of the country at environmental protection, followed by central and western China. The five provinces of Hunan, Guizhou, Anhui, Guangxi and Heilongjiang are lagging behind in reducing their carbon emissions. They have only finished 52, 63, 68, 72 and 81 percent, respectively, of their targets outlined in the 11th Five-year Plan; there are only seven months left.

However, it has been reported that although the targets of the 11th Five-year Plan have already been or are about to be reached, the MEP has set a national goal of further reducing the emission amounts of chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 200,000 tons and sulfur dioxide by 400,000 tons from the 11th Five-year Plan targets.

This means that throughout economic recovery, all regions must continue their completion of reaching emission reduction targets and must also accomplish reaching the set quota mentioned above.

What is worrying is that with economic recovery, the output of resource-oriented industries such as power, steel, non-ferrous metal, and petro-chemical have been growing rapidly, pushing the amount of sulfur dioxide emissions up 1.2 percent on the level of the same period last year. This is the first time sulfur dioxide emissions have increased in China since 2007.

Although Guangxi and Guizhou have reached over 90 percent of pollution reduction targets outlined in the 11th Five-year Plan, currently their emissions have been increasing. In the first quarter of this year, the thermal power output of the five provinces in southwest China, including Guangxi and Guizhou, has increased by 40.2 percent on the level of 2009, producing an emission amount of sulfur dioxide that accounts for almost half of the entire country's. With its thermal power more than doubling, Guangxi province's emission amount of sulfur dioxide has increased by 66,000 tons, up 140 percent on that of the same period of 2009.

Some of the MEP's planned environmental protection measures include:

Requiring sewage treatment plants to increase their daily processing capacity in urban areas by 15 million tons; requiring coal burning power plants to install desulphurization facilities with a capacity of 50 million kilowatts; eliminating backward production capacity in industries including thermal power, steel and cement; not allowing the implementation of projects related to sectors with overcapacity and concerning industries that consume too much energy or seriously pollute the environment; and requiring provincial governments to complete the construction of provincial-run automatic monitoring systems of key pollutants before June 30.

The MEP also intensified the authority of its Environmental Monitoring Center. Reduced emission amounts will be calculated based on historical data and material found in archives; the government will use the data to enforce laws and fine pollutants.

"The monitoring system of emission reduction found that the national average inspection score was only 54.5 points in 2009, with 19 provinces not passing the inspection by achieving a 60 point mark. Any province that does not pass this year will be severely punished," said Zhou Shengxian, Minister of Environmental Protection.

He went on to say that the sewage treatment fees of main cities and key river basins would be charged according to national standards, and enterprises with low desulphurization efficiency or suspended or unsteady desulphurization facilities will be punished.

Zhou said, the MEP will hold a mid-year examination of the emission reduction of provincial governments and of the five state-owned electricity groups in July and will evaluate their progress on reaching pollution reduction targets outlined in the 11th Five-year Plan.

This article was edited by Rose Scobie