The government will reform and refine its systems to facilitate the country’s pursuit of high-quality development and environmental protection, Premier Li Keqiang pledged as he delivered the Government Work Report at the opening of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress on March 5.
Green development is a critical element in modernizing an economy and a fundamental solution to pollution, Premier Li said.
The government will unveil a series of measures to strengthen green and environmental industries, including quickening the pace of upgrading thermal power, steel and other industries to achieve ultralow emissions and enforcing upgrades in heavily polluting sectors to achieve compliance with standards, Premier Li said.
“Promoting green development comes down to every last one of us. Its success hinges on action and commitment. We must all work together to create a beautiful and livable environment for our people,” the Premier said.
The country plans to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 3 percent in 2019, while making continuous efforts to reduce the density of PM2.5, a major particle pollutant, in key locations, including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, the Yangtze River Delta region and the Fenhe-Weihe River Plain area, most of which is located in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.
As to water and soil pollution control, the target for the year is to achieve a 2 percent drop in both chemical oxygen demand and ammonia nitrogen emissions.
To achieve the target, the central government plans to allocate 25 billion yuan ($3.7 billion), a year-on-year increase of 25 percent, for air pollution control. Five billion yuan is expected to be allocated for soil contamination control. The planned budget for water pollution control stands at 30 billion yuan. Both of the later two budgets saw an increase of more than 40 percent from last year, according to a draft budget report submitted to the national legislature.
Air pollution control remains at the top of the government’s agenda, and both the National Development and Reform Commission－the country’s economic planner－and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, have vowed to improve air quality.
“We will make a major push to promote conservation and efficient use of energy, and urge key localities to cut coal consumption by replacing it with alternative energy and by using coal in a cleaner and more efficient way,” according to the draft report submitted to national legislature by the commission.
Coal is one of the major contributors to air pollution in China. The commission also promised to effectively promote clean energy sources for winter heating across northern China, and coordinate resources needed to ensure cleaner use of coal in nonindustrial sectors.
The average density of PM2.5 in the country decreased by 10.4 percent year-on-year in 2018. Despite the achievement, the country saw an increase in the pollutant’s concentration in some areas in the past two months, and some key regions even experienced deterioration, said Liu Bingjiang, a national political adviser and head of air quality management at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
He said the local industrial structure in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, which has a large number of air polluting enterprises and industries, needs to be upgraded to improve the region’s air quality. The high reliance on diesel trucks for transportation also needs to be changed, he added.
The efforts of some local governments in the region have relaxed, Liu said, warning that all officials who fail to achieve air pollution targets in their regions will not escape punishment.
Referring to the fight against air pollution as a war, Liu said: “War requires a serious commitment. We should keep our promises with action, and there must be progress. Those who fail will be fully held accountable.”