China urges investment in pollution control projects

BEIJING Wed Sep 26, 2007 1:26pm BST

Buildings are seen during a hazy day in Tianjin municipality, September 13, 2007. REUTERS/Vincent Du

Buildings are seen during a hazy day in Tianjin municipality, September 13, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Du

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will encourage investment in pollution control projects to help the country meet its environmental goals, according to an environmental policy blueprint provisionally approved on Wednesday.

The State Council approved in principle an environmental plan for the five years through 2010, urging industrial restructuring to conserve resources and requiring companies to adhere to environmental standards to help reduce the damage to its water supplies, coast and air.

"A mechanism should be established to encourage government, enterprises and non-government forces to invest in pollution control projects," said the announcement that led the evening radio and television news on Wednesday.

It also called for an end to the bureaucratic fighting that has allowed many polluters to simply ignore the rules that are on the books.

"The most important job is to prevent pollution," the circular said.

"Governments and ministries should better coordinate to deal with pollution problems that cross administrative and regional boundaries. And companies should adhere to existing laws when expanding or building new plants, while addressing outstanding pollution as quickly as possible."

The five-year plan includes "specific measures" to reach previously announced targets to reduce energy consumption per unit of economic output by 20 percent and major pollutant discharges by 10 percent by 2010.

The State Environmental Protection Administration is gradually gaining clout as Beijing becomes more aware of the social, health and economic cost of unchecked pollution.

But local governments' eagerness to support projects that bring taxes and jobs, added to authorities' inability to enforce laws outside their own jurisdiction, has allowed highly polluting projects to continue unabated.

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