The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the English summary of its “State of the Environment” report earlier this month. We have read it so you won’t have to.
Let’s first look at the ten achievements identified for 2008. Where interesting facts and figures were given, we have noted them.
- First, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have made important arrangements for environmental protection under the new circumstances. [Zzzzzzzz]
- Second, the environmental impact assessment system has played an important role in macro control. [Not sure I would have placed this item quite so high given concerns about lax review of stimulus projects and the Jinsha River dam debacle]
- 156 projects were denied or suspended.
- Pollution reduction measures helped to cut down 468,600 tons of SO2 and 38,400 tons of COD annually.
- Third, a breakthrough has been made in pollution reduction.
- Urban sewage treatment capacity was increased by 11.49 million tons/day.
- 97.12 GW of installed electric generation capacity was installed with desulphurization facilities.
- 16.69 GW small thermal power plant capacity was shut down.
- COD discharges dropped by 4.42% compared with 2007, and 6.61% against 2005 levels.
- SO2 emissions dropped by 5.95% compared with 2007, and 8.95% against 2005 levels.
- Fourth, accomplished emergency response to severe natural disasters and guaranteed environmental quality for Beijing Olympics.
- Fifth, steady progress has been made in prevention and control of pollution in river basins.
- Sixth, environmental protection work has been unfolded in rural areas.
- Seventh, intensified efforts have been made in supervision of law enforcement.
- 16,000 enterprises have been placed on the nationwide “rectification blacklist” since 2005.
- More than 8,000 papermaking companies inspected in 2007 [sic] and 621 were shut down for violating national industrial policy and total discharge standards.
- Eighth, new achievement has been made in environmental legislation, policy, technology, publicity and education and international cooperation.
- Ninth, further built up capacity.
- The central government invested 34 billion Yuan for environmental protection, an increase of more than 10 billion Yuan compared to that of 2007.
- Tenth, the three strategic programs are proceeding smoothly. [What the "three strategic programs" are, however, is hard to figure out from the description provided].
The report notes, however, that China is still confronted with a “serious environmental situation,” and “general environmental conditions” were described as follows:
- First, surface water pollution remained very serious.
- The general water quality of the seven major waters including the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Pearl River, Songhua River, Huaihe River, Haihe River and Liaohe River were about the same as last year.
- 20.8% of 409 sections in 200 rivers were graded worse than Grade V standard [presumably this means you could walk across the water segment].
- 46.2% of the 26 lakes (reservoirs) under national monitoring programs on their nutrition state suffered from eutrophication.
- Second, the coastal areas nationwide were slightly polluted.
- Third, some cities had good air quality better than last year, but other cities still suffered from serious pollution.
- 519 cities across the country reported air quality data in 2008. 21 of them reached national Grade I standard for air quality, accounting for 4.0%; 378 ones was up to national Grade II standard, accounting for 72.8%; 113 cities hit Grade III standard, taking up 21.8%; and 7 failed to meet Grade III standard, accounting for 1.4%. 71.6% of the country’s cities at or above prefecture level had qualified water quality, and 85.6% of county-level cities managed to do so.
- Fourth, 71.7% of the country’s cities enjoyed good or relatively good regional acoustic environment, and 75.2% of the 113 major cities on environmental protection managed to do so.
- Fifth, the radiation environmental quality across the country was good at large. ["Good at large" does not provide me with the level of comfort I'm looking for when it comes to radiation]
- Sixth, some progress was made in ecological construction.
- Seventh, the environmental problems in rural areas were increasingly prominent, with aggravated household pollution, worsening non-point pollution, sharpening industrial and mine pollution, and hidden risk for drinking water safety. The pollution tended to transfer from urban areas to rural areas.
That’s a wrap for 2008. Overall grade, I’d say B-.