August 30, 2006
China Fails to Cut Main Pollutants: Government
BEIJING -- China failed to rein in two main pollution indicators in the first half of the year as soaring energy use and lax environmental controls thwarted policies to clean foul water and skies, the government said on Wednesday.
"Environmental protection and economic development are not proceeding in unison," the China Environment News, the official paper of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), wrote in an editorial.
China has set a goal of cutting pollution output by 10 percent, adjusted for economic growth, over the next five years. But just last week, Chinese authorities said acid rain caused by sulphur dioxide affected a third of China's land mass last year, posing a threat to food safety.
In the latest assessment, SEPA announced on its Web site (www.zhb.gov.cn) that nationwide emissions of sulphur dioxide from coal-fired power stations grew to 12.7 million tonnes in the first six months -- up 4.2 percent on the same period last year.
The official environmental monitor also said its key measure of water pollution -- "chemical oxygen demand" or COD -- rose 3.7 percent. COD gauges the noxiousness of wastewater.
In the editorial, SEPA laid the blame for the rising pollution on poor enforcement and a "crude mode of economic growth."
Many new power stations have equipment to strip sulphur from smoke, "but the level of use is not high," said the official announcement.
Even when cities build wastewater treatment plants, some fail to expand pipe networks to collect wastewater from factories and buildings, it added.
The official numbers came in the wake of repeated warnings by officials that China is failing to tame pollution even after promising a shift to clean development.
A senior parliamentary official, Sheng Huaren, said discharge of sulphur dioxide rose by 27 percent between 2000 and 2005 to 25 million tonnes, making the country the world's top emitter of the pollutant.
China's sulphur dioxide emissions were double the acceptable limit, he said.