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Experts Urge Tougher Pollution Controls

A pollution reduction task force under the nation's top environmental administration has urged the country to introduce tougher pollution controls in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

In the series of policy recommendations, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) said the country should shift from trying to cut emissions of major pollutants - sulfur dioxide (SO2) and chemical oxygen demands (COD), to a full range of pollutant controls.

"The focus of governmental work should be transferred from reduction capacity building to the quality of engineering projects and reduction. In addition, market-based instruments need to be introduced," it said in the report.

Poor quality environmental facilities have been a common flaw in the rush to meet the country's green goals, added the report.

Daniel Dudek, council member of CCICED and chief economist of the US-based Environmental Defense organization, called for "reforming the penalty system to be sure that enterprises know that violating the law is more expensive than obeying the law".

"The debate over the revision of the Water Pollution Control Law is focused on this issue," said Dudek, adding that the government should ensure that financially effective penalties are in place to ensure the law has teeth.

CCICED is an international think tank of the State Environmental Protection Administration. It collects opinions from more than 200 senior environment and development experts and officials at home and abroad.

CCICED concluded its three-day annual meeting in Beijing on Friday, in which it made proposals to the Chinese government on environment and development.

The task force called for a policy mechanism to ensure the successful achievement of the 11th Five-Year Plan's environment targets.

Besides promoting emission reductions, the proposal also spelled out measures to further cut SO2 and COD emissions.

The report estimated that thermal power generation units equipped with sulfur removal would account for 64 percent, leaving little space to further cut SO2.

So it suggested taking coal-fired industrial boilers as a new field of SO2 emission reduction. According to the study by the CCICED task force, in 2015, SO2 emitted from boilers nationwide will exceed 10 million tons.

As for water pollution control, the task force said greater importance should be attached to pollution from non-industrial sources.

It is said that in key lake basin areas, such as Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake, Dianchi Lake and the Three Gorges Dam area, nitrogen and phosphor coming from industrial wastewater only accounts for 10-16 percent of pollution. Most pollutants come from household consumption and farming.

(China Daily December 1, 2007)

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