Wen tells rubber stampers China needs to “halt” environmental damage

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made the country’s deteriorating environment a centerpiece of his opening remarks at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress yesterday.

AFP has a basic summary here:

Wen was introducing lawmakers assembled at the Great Hall of the People to energy-saving policies and other efforts planned for the next five years.

“Conscientiously fulfilling these tasks and measures will significantly increase the efficiency of resource consumption and basically halt the ecological and environmental deterioration,” he said.

The 11th five-year plan, which lasts from this year until late 2010, sets rough numerical targets for a reduction of pollution, calling for a 10 percent reduction in the total discharge of major pollutants by the end of the decade.

A Xinhua report focuses on Wen’s pledge to reduce China’s power consumption by 4 percent this year. The Sydney Morning Herald, meanwhile, noted this about Wen’s speech (bottom of second page):

On the environment, there was no directive to provincial and local officials that growth achieved at the expense of degradation was unacceptable. Many campaigners believe such a demand is crucial if China is to seriously tackle its water shortage and appalling environmental problems.

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