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Promote Green Development and Uplift Ecological Civilization
Zhou Shengxian, Minister of Environmental Protection of China

The development of human civilization has been able to be made while the various contractions between person and person, man and nature as well as man and society have been responded and overcome. The development pace after industrialization is faster than any other times. Massive material wealth has been created,meanwhile, huge environmental cost has been paid. The consequence of solely pursuit of economic increase will be very likely that most people have not been entitled to enjoy the benefits of industrialization while they are already driven to the corner resulting from the cost of industrialization. Due to the intensified conflict between man and nature, development is encountered with unprecedented obstacles that has thus given rise to the rude awakening of the awareness of environmental problems as well as the in-depth exploration of the environmental protection endeavors.

During the process of responding to the international financial crisis and then in the post-crisis era, many countries all the more highlight the idea and measures of GREEN. Green development has increasingly become an important trend of global development. It has been generally recognized that developing green economy could effectively protect the environment, make use of resources and expand the market demand as well as provide new jobs. It has made itself an important convergence for protecting environment and developing economy.

Promoting green development is the necessary option and conscious action for China. China has 1.3 billion people, and with its rapid industrialization, urbanization and development of new countryside, the discharged amount of major pollutants has exceeded its environmental carrying capacity and the environmental issue has become a bottleneck constraining its economic and social development. The fundamental approach to addressing the increasingly bitter conflict between socioeconomic development and the resources & environment constraint is to vigorously develop green economy, expedite the shift of economic development mode and explore a new path to environmental protection of small cost, sound effect, low emission and sustainability, in a bid to uplift the ecological civilization.

Based on the factual reality and oriented into the future, the Chinese Government has identified the development targets and blueprint for the next five years as set out in the recommendations on 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development. That is, it will take scientific development as the theme, accelerating the shift of economic development mode as the major thread and developing resource-conservation and environment-friendly society as the focal point so as to lay a sound foundation of decisive significance for the development of a well-off society. Shift of economic development mode is a wide and profound reform that runs through the whole process and reaches out to each field of economic and social development. To achieve this shift, the key consists in strong external forces, identical to that of the hard external conditions such as high temperature, high pressure with catalyst that turns graphite structure to diamond structure. Further strengthening of environmental protection could provide such strong force.

Environment and development go hand in hand. In nature, environmental issue is the issue of economic structure, production pattern and development path. Talking about environmental protection while ignoring economic development is like “climbing a tree to catch a fish”. Talking about economic development while ignoring environmental protection is like “draining the pond to catch the fish”. Right economic policy is the right environmental policy and vice versa. Green development is the reflection of right economic policies and environmental policies. Environmental protection has the role of “guiding”, “optimizing” and “expanding” economic development. “Guiding” means clearly identifying ecological functions of the region and guiding the region and enterprises to develop the economy while bearing in mind what could be developed, encouraged, limited and prohibited. “Optimizing” means utilization of the “target driven mechanism” to facilitate industrial restructuring and shift of development mode. “Expanding” means expansion of environmental carrying capacity by further promoting the pollutants emission reduction in order to create conditions for sustained economic development. Giving full play of the comprehensive role of environmental protection in optimizing economic development will strongly promote green development in China.

At present and in the years to come, China will actively promote green development and make unremitting efforts in the following areas:

First, proactively address global climate change.

Climate change is an environmental issue, and also a development issue. The Chinese Government has announced that the CO2 emission per unit GDP will be reduced by 40%~45% by 2020 compared with that of 2005. Chinese government will firmly promote the industrial structure, production pattern and consumption mode conducive to conservation of energy & resources and protection of the environment; adjust energy consumption structure and increase the percentage of non-fossil fuels; continuously promote afforestation, raise forest coverage and enhance the capacity of carbon stabilization. The statistic and monitoring system for greenhouse gas emission and energy saving and pollutants emission reduction will be established and improved. The carbon emission trade market will be gradually set up. Adhering to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, China will shoulder the carbon emission reduction responsibility and obligations meeting China’s development stage.

Second, intensify the pollution treatment and reduction of pollutant emission.

The types of major pollutants for total amount control will be increased from two to four kinds of major pollutants, namely, chemical oxygen demand, ammonia nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. The pollutant emission reduction to be achieved by adjusting the structure will be put to a more outstanding position. The pollutants emission reduction achieved by implementing corresponding projects and taking administrative measures will be continuously strengthened. The construction of sewage and garbage treatment facilities in cities and towns will be accelerated, and the treatment rate and load rate of sewage will be increased. The prevention and treatment of water pollution in key river basins will be further enhanced. Urban air pollution will be effectively controlled. Desulphurization in coal-fired power plants will be continuously strengthened. Concrete actions will be taken to strengthen the de-NOx in power plants. Vehicle exhausts will be rigorously controlled. The working mechanism for joint prevention and control of air pollution in the region will be structured. The new social tendency for environmental protection will be set up and the whole society will be mobilized for pollutants emission reduction actions.

Third, vigorously develop circular economy.

Aiming at improving resource efficiency, Guiding through planning and supporting through fiscal, taxation and financial policies will be strengthened; the laws and regulations will be improved; the extended producer responsibility system will be implemented; and the development of circular economy in each link of production, circulation, and consumption will be promoted. We will accelerate the development of resource recycling industry, intensify comprehensive utilization of mineral resources, encourage recycling of industrial wastes, improve recycled resources recovery system and classified refuse collection system, and facilitate the industrialization of recycling of resources. We will develop and apply technologies for waste reduction at the source, recycling, re-manufacturing, zero emission, and industrial chains and extend typical mode of circular economy.

Fourth, accelerate the foster strategic and emerging industries including energy-saving and environment-friendly industries.

China’s environmental industry has maintained an average annual growth rate of more than 15% over the past few years with greater prospects in the coming years. We will foster new economic growth engine characterized by low-carbon emission; adjust and upgrade traditional industries and develop emerging industries featuring alternative energy, energy-saving and environment-friendliness; establish a benign circle between socio-economic development and resources & environment, guide enterprises to vigorously develop green technologies & products as well as green economy, and realize sustainable use of resources and continuous improvement of eco-environment.

Fifth, establish and improve the schemes and mechanisms conducive to environmental protection.

We will quicken our steps in developing the macro-strategic scheme for environmental protection, an overall pollution prevention and control scheme, a sound and effective environmental treatment scheme, an improved scheme of environmental laws, regulations, policies and standards, a mature environmental management scheme and a social action scheme fully participated by the people while accommodating to our national conditions. We will focus more on market tools, speed up the establishment of eco-compensation mechanism, comprehensively reform the resource taxation system, initiate environmental protection tax, and improve environmental protection economic instruments such as green tax, green securities, green procurement and green trade.

We are now standing at a new historical point of developing green economy and building the conservation culture while embracing great hopes and promising prospects. We are willing to work with other countries in the world, deepen communication and broaden cooperation so as to obtain fruitful achievements through our concerted efforts and contribute more to the welfare of our people.

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