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UPDATED: May 21, 2014 NO. 12 MARCH 20, 2014
War Against Smog
National political advisors share their ideas on tackling the country's environmental challenge
By Miao Xiaoyang

Diesel-burning vehicles are responsible for 70 percent of the total nitrate oxide emissions and more than 90 percent of total particulate matter emissions from automobiles in China, according to Xu Guanju, Chairman of the private Transfar Group in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Xu, also a CPPCC National Committee member, said that more attention should be paid to truck emissions in tackling air pollution.

Data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection show that total nitrate oxide and particulate matter emitted by trucks, especially heavy duty vehicles, are apparently higher than that emitted by cars, Xu told Beijing Review.

China has about 11 million trucks in operation. Xu said that stricter exhaust standards should be imposed on them and their operation efficiency should be improved.

In his government work report, Premier Li said that this year, China will cut its energy intensity by more than 3.9 percent, along with reductions in sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand by 2 percent. He also pledged to increase the share of electricity from non-fossil fuels, develop smart grids, promote balanced distribution of energy resources, encourage the development of wind and solar power, as well as start construction of a number of hydropower and nuclear power projects.

Liu Zhenya, Board Chairman of the State Grid Corp., calls for speeding up the replacement of coal with electricity for household heating and industrial production, and vigorously promoting the use of electric vehicles as well as tracking traffic.

"Surplus electricity in China's western and northern regions could be transmitted to its eastern and central regions through ultra-high-voltage power grids," said Liu, a CPPCC National Committee member.

"A major cause of China's environmental deterioration is inefficient use of resources," said Jia Kang, a CPPCC member and Director of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science under the Ministry of Finance. "The role of the market in adjusting the industrial and energy structure should be given full play."

Jia suggests pushing ahead with reform on the resource tax, which should be made an ad valorem tax covering major energy resources, including coal. He said that in this way, businesses and the general public will be motivated to cut energy consumption out of their own economic interests.

Improving legislation

In their separate interviews with Beijing Review, several CPPCC National Committee members urged the improvement of laws and regulations concerning air pollution.

Sun Taili, Board Chairman of Tianjin-based Qingda Group, said that China's Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, which took effect in December 1989, has not been amended since 2000. "The law mainly addresses pollutants from coal combustion such as sulfur dioxide and dust, but not yet PM 2.5," he said. "It is imperative to amend the law."

While the law should tackle such types of pollutants as photochemicals and PM 2.5, it should include regional joint prevention and control measures and industrial restructuring as well, said Liu Bingjiang, Director of the Department of Total Pollutants Control under the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

"Improving laws concerning environmental protection is very important and controlling pollution according to law should be a focus in the future," said Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing at a press conference on March 8.

Amending the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law was listed on the NPC's legislative plan in 2011. The draft amendment was deliberated by the NPC Standing Committee for the first time in August 2012, and for the second and third time in June and October last year.

Wu said that currently, the draft is being further amended.

"The new environmental protection law is expected to be enacted later this year. The sooner, the better," Wu said.

Email us at: yaobin@bjreview.com

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