China Ready to Quell Disquiet over New Environmental Policies

In the Guardian, Jonathan Watts writes about the links between new policies on the environment and on domestic security announced at the NPC meetings, and the public reaction to both:

The praise was for the new five-year economic plan, which contains several progressive environmental policies (listed below) aimed at slowing emissions growth, cutting pollution and switching the focus of development from GDP quantity to sustainable quality.

The criticism was for a sharp rise in public security spending, which for the first time overtook the military budget.

Unease about the possible rise of a police state was further heightened by official threats and harassment of foreign journalists attempting to cover “jasmine” protests in Beijing and Shanghai on Sunday.

Apart from police and reporters, almost nobody has turned up at these demonstrations, but the government is clearly uneasy. The immediate cause of concern for China’s unelected leaders is the spreading wave of pro-democracy unrest in the Middle East.

Longer term, however, there are deeper causes of tension related to environmental stress, notably the rising prices of food, oil and other commodities.

A post on China Dialogue looks at the energy and climate targets in the new five-year-plan:

The 12th Five-Year Plan, which covers the period 2010 to 2015, won’t be formally launched until the end of this week, but the headline figures for energy and climate are clear: a 16% cut in energy intensity; a 17% cut in carbon intensity; and a boost in use of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 11.4% of primary energy consumption (it is currently 8.3%).

Beyond these numbers, what do we know about China’s new development blueprint so far?

Read Premier Wen Jiabao’s full work report delivered over the weekend.