Since the late 1970s, environmental problems, which developed countries witnessed at different stages over centuries of industrialization, all cropped up during a short period of time in China, resulting in striking conflicts between environmental protection and development. Limited resources, fragile ecosystem and environmental deterioration are gradually becoming stumbling blocks to China's modernization drive.
People were filled with both hope and anxiety in 2006.
It is in 2006 that China issued its first ever environmentally adjusted GDP results in the China Green National Accounting Study Report 2004, which subtract the cost of natural resources and environmental degradation from total GDP. Strictly speaking, this report is far from being a complete green national economy accounting aid, for lack of figures on groundwater, soil and indoor air pollution. But statistics are not so important compared to the significance of Green GDP that is reflected in the fact that it is proposing a new concept of development and pointing out a new direction of future work. As a result, people are paying more attention to the cost of resources and environment for sustaining economic growth.
Besides, in 2006, the first year of China's 11th Five-Year Plan period, such "green indexes" as energy consumption and pollution discharge were made into specific quota-based restrictive indications. This implies the fundamental change in China's development mode and also shows China's determination to contribute to the lasting prosperity worldwide. Although the Kyoto Protocol does not demand China to fulfill the mission of emission reduction, China announced, at the Montreal Conference in 2005, its willingness to reduce greenhouse gas.
But it's not all good news. According to the statistics of environmental quality for the first three quarters of the year issued by China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), apart from a few exceptions, most rivers were polluted at different degrees. The country's 113 major cities saw a total of 3,277 air pollution incidents, with 16 percent of the three quarters affected by pollution. About 58 percent of the country's cities had experienced slight pollution, while 18 percent of the cities suffered from serious pollution.
Last year, it was required that the discharge of major pollutants should fall by 2 percent, but quite a few areas across the country failed to reach this target and, worse still, some produced more pollutants. Meanwhile, 2006 is also a year of frequent accidents of environmental pollution. SEPA alone dealt with 159 such cases, twice that of the previous year.
All this reflects the embarrassing reality facing China's environmental protection efforts. It's a common knowledge among China's environmentalists that it is the terrible environment that draws the public to focus on environmental protection programs. In such severe circumstances, the future of China's environmental protection depends on the concerted efforts by both the government and every individual. In this sense, those who won the honor of "Green Chinese of the Year," both individuals and groups, are pioneers who encourage us to never give up the mission to protect the green home around us.
It is hoped that these selfless examples of committed people will encourage others to make joint efforts so that 2007 becomes a year when China takes its green campaigns to new heights.