MEP Recalibrates for 2009

Last month, Caijing ran a story on the difficulty of the government in achieving various environmental targets (h/t Cleaner Greener China), specifically with regards to the reduction of energy intensity and increasing forest coverage.  Indeed, China Environmental Law blog (CELB) has highlighted the unease that the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) feels with respect to economic policies promoted by other branches of government that work at cross-purposes with the nation’s environmental goals.

Ren Yong, deputy director of MEP’s policy research center for environment and economy, was quoted as saying in China Daily:

The globalization has left China in an awkward situation, which enjoys a trade surplus, but meanwhile an ecological deficit.

In light of the “slippage,” the MEP has adopted eight New Year’s resolutions as articulated by its Vice Minister Zhang Shenxian :

  1. Firmly enhance emission reduction work and ensure the achievement of the emission reduction targets during the “11th Five-Year Plan” period.
  2. Stand unswervingly to strengthen EIA approval service and exert all our energy to facilitate economic growth.
  3. Firmly carry out strict environment access system and curb rapid growth of the development projects with “high energy consumption, heavy pollution and resource oriented” and industries with excessive productivity.
  4. Firmly grasp the good opportunity of huge national investment in infrastructure and strengthen eco environmental protection and build the capacity in environmental management infrastructure.
  5. Firmly intensify rural environmental protection and make more efforts in environmental quality.
  6. Firmly strengthen environmental management and facilitate coordination between economic growth and environmental protection.
  7. Firmly accelerate the improvement of environmental economic policy and establish a long-term effective mechanism for environmental protection.
  8. Firmly enhance environmental supervision and law enforcement, safeguard public environmental right and interests.

Read CELB’s comprehensive post elaborating on each of the above resolutions.   Since then, with respect to #1 above, the MEP has outlined 10 interim emission reduction goals for this year, notes People’s Daily, including the following:

  1. Reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 2% compared to 2008 and by 9% compared to 2005,
  2. Lower emissions of chemical oxygen demand (COD) by more than 3% compared to 2008 and by 8% compared to 2005.
  3. Increase urban sewage treatment capacity by 10 million tons a day
  4. Add over 50 million kilowatts of installed capacity for desulfurization in coal-fired power plants
  5. Add 20 flue-gas desulfurization units for steel sintering machines.
  6. Guarantee the steady operation of the over 300 million kilowatt capacity of desulfurization units in coal-fired power plants
  7. Guarantee the steady operation of the over 1,300 sewage treatment plants.
  8. Connect provinces with the central government in an online monitoring system of over 6,000 state-monitored key pollution sources must be carried out.

Why the article only listed eight goals escapes us, but perhaps it took the view that there are two goals in each of #1 and #2 in the second list above, making it 10 in total.

The MEP’s task ahead is challenging.  With a headcount of roughly just 300, monitoring pollution violators, administering the green credit and green securities programs and evaluating hundreds of environmental impact assessments on top of keeping its tabs on the environmental impacts of the projects seeking their slice of the 4 trillion bailout package (it recently approived 153 and rejected 11) is going to stretch the MEP’s resources thin.  Let’s hope the spirit of the Ox gives the MEP all the strength that it needs.

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