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China Approves Five-year Plan for Environment Protection

The State Council has approved in principle a five-year environmental protection plan that sets out guidelines, major tasks and measures for the government to tackle pollution.

The plan, approved during an executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday, has put "pollution control and prevention" as its focus with the aim of achieving the environmental protection targets set by the government last year.

The government set goals in its five-year plan to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent and major pollutant discharges by 10 percent in the 11th five-year plan period ending 2010.

"China is suffering from increasing conflicts between economic and social development and constraints in resources and energy," the State Council said in a circular.

The tasks laid out included:

-- Accelerating economic restructuring to create an industrial system that will aid resource conservation and environmental protection, along with the control of inappropriate development activities.

"Techniques, facilities and backward production measures that lead to too much waste of resources and serious pollution must be eliminated," the circular said.

-- Improving supervision, management and law enforcement of pollution.

-- Advancing environmental science and technology through innovation to improve environmental protection capability.

-- Enhancing cooperation between government departments and local governments to better resolve trans-regional environmental problems.

-- Reinforcing environment education to enhance the public's awareness of eco-system protection.

"A mechanism should be established to encourage government, enterprises, and non-government forces to invest in pollution control projects," said the circular.

China's environment watchdog said at the beginning of this year that the country failed to reach its pollution control goals last year as the economy grew faster than expected.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2007)

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