June 3, 2009 / 4:21 PM / 10 years ago

China cuts sulphur dioxide, water pollution in '08

Smoke billows from chimneys at a chemical factory in Tianjin Municipality in this December 23, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China cut its water pollution and emissions of acid rain-causing sulphur dioxide last year, as it stepped up efforts to make its economic growth cleaner, state media said on Wednesday.

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), a measure of water pollution, dropped by 4.42 percent in 2008 from a year earlier, while sulphur dioxide emissions were down 5.95 percent, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China has promised to cut the two key pollution measures by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010, and is also looking to reduce its energy intensity, or the amount of energy used to create each unit of gross domestic product (GDP).

Xinhua cited Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection, as saying the government was looking to the environmental industry as a new engine of economic growth.

Despite the progress, the two targets reached are primitive indicators of overall environmental health that do not reflect the many other chemicals that have turned its pollution problems into a domestic headache and an international embarrassment.

Further, emissions of greenhouse gases are set to soar as the government seeks greater prosperity for its people.

China’s energy intensity in the first quarter of this year fell 2.89 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 4.59 percent decline in energy use per unit of GDP for the whole of 2008.

Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Keiron Henderson

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