Improving the environment is a key element of the government's financial stimulus plan, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing on Wednesday.
"Environmental protection and energy-saving industries should become the new highlights of economic growth in this round of investment to boost domestic demand," Li said at the opening of the annual meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.
Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection, said that over the next three years, 1 trillion yuan (US$146 billion) will be used to tackle environmental problems.
One of the key targets will be the elimination of the imbalance between urban and rural environmental efforts, Zhou said.
"The provision of safe drinking water and the treatment of pollution in the countryside must be given the same attention as in urban areas," he said.
At its first national meeting on rural environmental protection in July, the State Council set a target to increase the amount of sewage and consumer waste treated in rural areas by 10 percent by 2010.
Funds will also go toward solving regional environmental problems, such as the worsening haze situation in the Pearl River Delta, he said.
Last year, more than 100 "hazy days" were recorded in the Pearl River Delta cities of Dongguan, Foshan, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhaoqing, he said.
China's fledgling green industries, such as those involved in the development of renewable energies and pollution treatment, will also benefit from the investment plan, Zhou said.
(China Daily November 13, 2008)