China Faces ‘Very Grave’ Environmental Situation, Officials Say

After the State Council acknowledged the negative environmental impact of the Three Gorges Dam, Chinese government officials have now also given a frank assessment of the country’s overall environmental situation. From the New York Times:

In a blunt assessment of the problems facing the world’s most populous country, officials from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection delivered their 2010 annual report. They pointed to two major advances: improvements in water and air quality — key goals that the ministry had set for itself to achieve over a five-year period ending in December.

The targets were met, with pollutants in surface water down 32 percent over the period and sulfur dioxide emissions in cities down 19 percent.

But officials cautioned that many other problems were serious and scarcely under control.

“The overall environmental situation is still very grave and is facing many difficulties and challenges,” said Li Ganjie, the vice minister. Mr. Li said biodiversity was declining with “a continuous loss and drain of genetic resources,” while China’s countryside was becoming more polluted as dirty industries were moved out of cities and into rural areas.

Mr. Li said reversing the deterioration of the countryside was a major focus for the coming five-year plan. He also pledged to control contamination by heavy metals, which resulted in nine cases of lead poisoning last year and seven more in the first five months of this year. He said that China needed a law to regulate heavy metals and that he was confident it would be written and passed soon.

June 3, 2011, 2:35 PM
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