To Have a Greener Spring 让春天更“绿”一些
By Vicco Wu
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) played a leading role at the first press conference of the State Council Information Office at the beginning of the Year of the Horse, where, after making a summary of the environmental progress for 2013, the MEP proposed “three battles” for 2014 and expressed intention to launch new policies related to air, water and soil pollution respectively.
It’s reported that global environmental problems are mainly seen in India, Iran, Mongolia, Brazil and China. In India, fast population growth and excessive discharge of sewage water have caused serious water pollution. In Iran and Mongolia, Ore mining has led to environmental pollution. In Brazil, timber mining has reduced the area of forests. Compared with these countries, China has the most serious air pollution.
Today, the smog in China has attracted global attention. In 2013, the State Council introduced the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Action Plan (“Ten Rules for Atmospheric Pollution Prevention”) to control air pollution by region, stage and differentiated methods. The Plan requires that PM2.5 should be controlled in key areas such as Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, and PM10 should be controlled in other regions. The amount of PM2.5 shall be reduced by over 25% in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, by 20% in the Yangtze River Delta and by 15% in the Pearl River Delta, while the amount of PM10 should be reduced by over 10% in other regions.
After releasing the plan, the MEP has conducted a lot of follow-up work. For example, the MEP has made detailed requirements for Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province and six surrounding provinces (districts, cities) that 13 million tons of coal must be reduced in Beijing, 10 million tons in Tianjin, 40 million tons in Hebei Province and 20 million tons in Shandong, etc. Moreover, the MEP, together with relevant ministries, has divided 80 tasks set out in the Ten Rules for Atmospheric Pollution Prevention among 34 central and national departments, determined each roadmap and timetable and signed objective responsibility agreements with 31 provinces (districts, cities), which have been disclosed to the public.
The MEP has launched a monthly program to monitor the law enforcement in key areas since last October, where inspections and secret investigations are used, with focus on the latter. Even pilotless aircrafts were used in a large-scale monitoring program in last November. Now, 15 provinces (districts, cities) have developed local implementation plans to implement the Ten Rules for Atmospheric Pollution Prevention. In recently-held local Two Sessions, the governors, mayors, and chairmen of 28 provinces, cities and autonomous regions made environmental arrangements at great length in work reports, especially air pollution control work.
Meanwhile, officials with the MEP pointed out that water and soil pollution is also every severe. To solve water pollution, the MEP is developing the Water Pollution Prevention Action Plan, the core of which is to improve water quality, with focus on two aspects: strong water pollution control in heavily-polluted areas and strong protection of rivers and lakes with better water quality to avoid “pollution first and treatment second”. Furthermore, regarding soil pollution control, the MEP is developing a Soil Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Action Plan, similar to the Ten Rules for Atmospheric Pollution Prevention.
To meet the public’s right to know about the environment and prevent any disputes and group events resulting from thereof, the MEP has considered information disclosure as a crucial part in environmental protection and taken measures such as the release of environmental impact assessment reports and report forms to strengthen environmental supervision and urge local governments to solve the problem.
The four elements of “earth, air, water, fire” in the West and five elements of “gold, wood, water, fire, earth” in China are all directed to basic elements of life, so environmental concerns are also a manifestation of respect for life. In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson published a book titled as Silent Spring, which explained the environmental pollution and damage caused by the pesticide DDT.
Alarmed by the book, the U.S. Government initiated an investigation on highly toxic pesticides, established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and all states passed laws to prohibit the production and use of highly toxic pesticides. The book has been considered as the start of environmental ecology in the 20th century.
Environmental protection is more about prevention than control. Rational use of natural resources, energy conservation, biodiversity protection and prevention of environmental pollution and damage shall be remembered at all times. Thus, development of environmental consciousness is also crucial. I believe that with joint efforts, we will have a greener spring.
Behavior Initiative for Environmental Protection
Starting from small things beside us. A small favor from each of us contributes to something big.
1）Water conservation: Turning off the faucet after use, repeated use of water and protection of water sources.
2）Electricity conservation: Turning off the light after use, reducing the use of electric appliances and air conditioners and supporting green lighting.
3）Prudent use of cleaners: Using eco-friendly cleaners such as phosphate-free detergents to reduce water pollution.
4）Green travel: Traveling by bike, maximum use of public transportation vehicles such as buses and subways, use of unleaded petrol and reduction of emissions.
5）Reduced use of paper: Reducing deforestation to lighten the burden on the earth.
6）No waste of food: Supporting the “Clean Your Plate” campaign.
7）Purchase of eco-friendly products: Less use of disposable Products by bringing your own shopping bags and choosing green packages. Use of CFC-free products to protect the ozone layer, purchase of eco-friendly batteries to prevent mercury cadmium pollution and maximum use of green, pollution-free products.
8）Promoting waste sorting and recovery: Sorting and recovery of waste plastics, batteries and paper and bio-waste.
9）Recycling of renewable resources: Waste utilization to support environmental protection; exchange and donation of unused items to avoid waste.
10）Refused consumption of wild plants and animals: Treating life kindly and protecting the food chain to coexist with all things.