“Compared with previous reports, the report on the work of the government delivered by Premier Li Keqiang this year is simple but clear in style,” said Chang Jiwen, Vice Director-General of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies at the Development Research Center of the State Council of China, in an interview with China Report. “Concerning environmental protection, Premier Li said that it’s time to implement concrete measures to make the country’s skies blue again.”
Chang noted that the 2017 report is highlighted by two measures to improve the environment. One is that “we will make our skies blue again” and the other is promoting waste sorting.
“After years of research, the causes of regional air pollution have been found,” Chang said. “We have had clear goals to improve air quality since 2016.” During a press conference held at the end of last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China (MEP) pointed out that tackling the smog problem would be a long-term challenge, and the emissions of primary pollutants are expected to be reduced by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan or in the middle of the 14th Five-Year Plan period.
“Considering the overall situation last year, the measures to improve air quality have had good results,” said Chang. The CPC Central Committee has already sent environmental protection inspection teams to examine how provincial-level Party committees and governments carry out their environmental duties. All these measures have played a positive role in controlling air pollution. The MEP statistics show that Beijing saw a 9.9% drop in the annual average density of PM2.5 and a 3.1% increase in the number of days with good or excellent air quality in 2016 as compared to 2015.
“We should be more determined in 2017 to continue with our policies in environmental protection,” Chang said. “I have confidence that the government will achieve their goals.”
Waste sorting is another key environmental issue in the 2017 report, according to Chang. He believes that promoting waste sorting is an important measure to build China into a culturally advanced country, but its importance has been largely neglected. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed an all-round promotion of waste sorting at a meeting of the CPC Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms held at the end of 2016, which is mentioned again in this year’s report on the work of the government.
“With the advancing of China’s integrated urban-rural development, pollution by daily waste has become a problem in both cities and rural areas,” Chang remarked. “Promoting waste sorting can help foster a resource-conserving and environment-friendly way of life nationwide.” Waste sorting is not only a measure to address water pollution, but also a major impetus for the development of environmental protection industries, according to Chang. (Translation: Gao Jing)