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Cutting overcapacity helps tackle environmental problems, experts say

China Daily By Xin Zhiming, April 25, 2017 Adjust font size:

China's supply-side structural reform, which has reduced excessive production capacity, helps push the country's environmental protection and resource saving, experts said on April 22.

China cut 65 million tons of excessive steel-making capacity and 290 million tons of coal mining capacity in 2016. It has vowed to continue the reform process over the next two years.

"The excessive production capacity constitutes a serious waste of resources," Zheng Yuxin, a researcher from the Environmental and Development Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said.

"Over-capacity is a global problem facing many countries, but our problem is especially serious," he said. "China should make more efforts to reduce excessive capacity, which is very important for saving resources and building a resource-saving-oriented society."

Zheng said many steel-makers and coal mining companies were main contributors to local coffers, thus prompting local governments to protect them. "It is a problem that China must solve."

Zheng made the comments at a forum marking World Earth Day, which falls on April 22. Experts from CASS and other institutes shared their solutions to the problems of environment degradation and pollution at the forum.

Yue Guoqiang, an economist at the National Development and Reform Commission, said China's energy mix, which heavily relies on consumption of coal, is a main factor behind the country's air pollution.

"Our energy supply is mainly built on thermal power generation, which consumes large amounts of coal, contributing to air pollution," he said, citing the example of air pollution of Beijing.

Apart from coal consumption, dust from construction sites is also a major source of air pollution, said Qin Dadi, an engineer of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. "Many studies, from both Chinese and international researchers, have pointed to dust from construction sites as a major source of air pollution."

Zhao Zhangyuan, a researcher with the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, called for more public supervision.

"We must rely on the public to protect our environment; government efforts alone are not enough."