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Red China picks up "green" line
  09:48, October 17, 2007 [Font big medium small] [BBS] [Print] [Close]
 
Chunshuyuan, in downtown Beijing, is a "green community" boasting not only trees and meadows but also eco-friendly facilities.


The latest community action is "Green Commute Day". Residents are urged to leave their private cars at home and go to work by foot, bike, bus or subway on the 30th of every month.


"It is the duty of a citizen to do something to make the air cleaner in Beijing," said Li Xiumei, an active participant in the community's green programs.


About three kilometers away from Chunshuyuan, the Great Hall of People is red with flags and ribbons, the classic color of the Party Congress, and leaders of Red China are doing lots of "green" talking like Li.


"(We will) promote a conservation culture by basically forming an energy and resource-efficient and environment-friendly structure of industries, pattern of growth and mode of consumption," Hu Jintao said in his keynote speech on Monday at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the five-yearly political event.


The term, "conservation culture," hit the headlines of all the Chinese media on Tuesday.


When elaborating on the Scientific Outlook on Development, the highlight of his speech, Hu said that the comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development is a "basic requirement".


"The concept of conservation culture has put environmental protection in an ethical and theoretical range instead of just an issue of practice," said Wang Weiping, guest professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources of Renmin University.


The high-profile speech has given hope and optimism to environmentalists like Wang who has long worked for recycling urban waste and been active in lobbying the government.


"I hoped the guidelines from the leadership will benefit the system building, for instance, speeding up making environmental laws," he said.


Li is no expert in politics or the environment. As a retired worker and housewife, she just looks forward to breathing in clean air and living a healthy life.


"More neighbors may take part in protecting the environment if the government is more active, I think," she said.


Green issues are hot in China. Film stars were invited by TV channels to promote using cotton-made shopping bags rather than plastic ones and every action taken against polluters made by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) is featured on the front pages of Chinese newspapers.


Partly, this is because the country is facing a worsening environment. This summer, Taihu Lake, located in China's most energetic economic belt, suffered a serious blue-green algae outbreak, threatening the tap water supply of more than one million residents in the lakeside city Wuxi, a typical example of how fast economic growth has worn out the environment.


"It is absolutely the right thing to do (to stress eco-friendly and sustainable development in the keynote speech)," said Khalid Malik, Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China, "But even more important is how to make it operational."


UNDP is willing to work with the Chinese government to explore how to put the guidelines into practice, he said.


The Chinese government has made great efforts to solve environmental issues and curb pollution but several challenges lie ahead such as industries of high pollution and low efficiency, he said.


"China has not developed the mechanism of 'polluters pay.' Simply fining polluters will not work," he said.


Pan Yue, deputy director of SEPA, held a similar perspective. He admitted in an essay published recently that the existing administrative measures against polluters will not be effective in the long term.


He called for "green" economic policies including taxation, charging polluters, subsidies to those giving up profits for the sake of the environment and preferential financing policies for the eco-friendly industry.


"China is in even more urgent need of adopting green economic policies than developed countries," he said.


Source: Xinhua

 
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