Vice-Premier pledges 'ecological progress'

Updated: 2012-12-13 06:37

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

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'Livable environment and a good living standard important to people'

China needs to strengthen efforts in five aspects to reach the goal of building a modernized country with ecological progress, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.

The five aspects are green development, establishing people-centered policies, enlarging the market for renewable resources, deepening reform and enhancing international cooperation.

Li was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2012 annual general meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.

"Ecological progress" has been a hot term since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November, when the country's top leaders pledged that political, economic, social and cultural progress will take full account of the environment to ensure the pursuit of "a beautiful China" with a low-carbon economy.

Li said China has adopted a basic national policy to conserve resources and protect the environment over the past 30 years, which has alleviated environmental damage to a certain extent. But the situation faced by the country remains severe.

Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China accounted for 20 percent of global energy consumption with only about a 10 percent contribution to the global GDP in 2011.

"Although many measures have been taken, the trend of overall deterioration of the environment has not been fundamentally stopped," Xie said.

Under these circumstances, Li said China needs to find a new way for its development to avoid the old control-after-pollution path walked by developed economies.

"Environmental problems are generated during the process of development, and thus should be solved during development. But the development has to be sustainable," he said.

Li confirmed that 3.4 trillion yuan ($544 billion) will be invested between 2011 and 2015 to address environmental protection.

He said both a livable environment and a good standard of living are important to the people.

"With the improvement of living standards, people's demand for a good environment has been strengthened," Li said. "They want to live their lives in peace, with good work and a decent salary, but also with a blue sky and clean rivers."

Li said environmental industries should be seen as a huge market during industrialization and urbanization.

"Take the photovoltaic industry as an example. Domestic installation accounts for only less than 10 percent of the total output," he said. "We will support the solar power industry in the future to promote its sustainable and healthy development, opening up a larger domestic market for it. In 2020, the country's photovoltaic power installed capacity will reach 50 million kilowatts."

Li also emphasized the importance of applying more legal means to regulate behaviors and norms related to environmental protection and international cooperation.

Also on Wednesday, an executive meeting of the State Council, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, formulated a plan to develop a recycling economy by 2015, China National Radio reported.

The plan includes the establishment of recycling systems in industry, agriculture and service sectors. It formulates the construction of model cities, model enterprises and model projects of a recycling economy.

The meeting decided that a stimulus and constraint system should be built to improve the efficiency of resource usage, and environment-friendly consumption should be encouraged. It also asked government departments to improve relevant policies in taxation, finance, industry, investment and pricing, to strengthen regulation and supervision and to carry out international cooperation in a bid to facilitate the development of a recycling economy.

Ma Chao contributed to this story.