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Recommendations to the Chinese Government On the Formulation of China's Tenth Five-Year Plan from CCICED
Article type: Translated 1999-10-18 Font Size:[ S M L ] [Print] [Close]

  At the advent of the new millennium, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) is paying closer attention to China's environmental protection.

  Experience has shown that, when a country's per capita GNP is between US$ 500 and US$ 3,000, resource and environmental problems are most serious. China is currently at this development stage, and is faced with severe challenges (including heavy population pressure, limited per capita resources, environmental pollution and ecological degradation, etc.) as well as development opportunities. In view of this, and at a time when the Chinese government is formulating The Tenth Five-Year Plan for State Economic and Social Development and Long-Term Strategy for the Year 2015 (hereafter referred to as The Tenth Five-Year Plan), the 3rd meeting of the 2nd Phase of the CCICED discussed the priority issues of environment and development for China during the Tenth Five-Year Period. It is hoped that the recommendations that come out of the Meeting will be helpful for the Chinese government in its formulation of the Tenth Five-Year Plan.

  The Recommendations are as follows:

  1. On the integration of environment and development in decision-making

  Environmental considerations should be taken into full consideration in the formulation of the Tenth Five-Year Plan. Sustainable development should serve as the guiding principle for the formulation of the Tenth Five-Year Plan and sectoral plans. The indicator system for sustainable development should be established in a timely manner. It is essential to integrate economic decision-making with environmental protection, integrate social and economic policies with environmental policies, and integrate key decision-making with investment plans. This integration should be implemented on the basis of environmental objectives. Supervision should be strengthened on the implementation of integrated decision-making, and relevant institutions and systems should be established for that purpose. The government and industrial & commercial sectors should strengthen their cooperation in policy formulation and implementation.

  Capacity building should be strengthened for government departments in the field of environment and development. In order to assess the environmental impact of economic activities, simplified and practical analytical tools should be developed. These tools should be used in the decision-making process. Environmental impact assessment should cover various industries and sectors. The development plans of various industries and sectors should be made according to the carrying capacity of resources. These plans should also undergo environmental assessment in order for the industries and sectors to adopt strategies that are conducive to environmental protection.

  Sectoral plans, such as the Tenth Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection, Strategies and Plans for the Development of Environmental Industries, and Strategies and Plans for the Development of Cleaner Production, should be formulated by drawing upon lessons learned from the Ninth Five-Year Period, and adopting comprehensive decision-making approach. Both necessities and possibilities should be considered in the formulation.

  China's Agenda 21 and Priority Projects for China's Agenda 21 should be revised and updated in a timely manner. Comprehensive decision-making mechanisms should be applied to international cooperation projects. The planning and decision-making process should be given focused attention for these projects, and more standard and rational management mechanisms should be established for the assessment, screening and implementation of the projects.

  Comprehensive treatment plans should be formulated in a timely way for the ecological environment of a number of key regions, such as Beijing and its surrounding areas, the Yangtze River Basin, the Yellow River Basin, The Huai River Basin and Bohai Sea region, etc. By implementing these plans, valuable experience could be accumulated on how to promote the integration of environment and economy.

  2. On improving energy structure and efficiency

  A key priority issue for China is to formulate a relatively long-term energy strategy, which reflects true resource value, environmental costs and economic benefits, and integrates the various aspects of macro-economic policies, finance & investment, and environmental protection. Economic incentive measures should be adopted to encourage energy saving by industries and consumers. The national energy strategies should consider the issue of "increasing greenhouse effect" and how to take advantage of the Clean Development Mechanism and other potential sources of finance under the Kyoto Protocol.

  Policies should be formulated to encourage the diversification of energy supply, liberalization of energy price and trade, and improvement of energy efficiency. Advanced technologies should be adopted with a view to achieving cost-effectiveness through energy efficiency improvement. Policies should be able to ensure that the increasing energy demand due to economic development and people's rising living standard be met. Energy efficiency standards for products should also be formulated, so as to foster the development and wide use of energy efficient products.

  Long-term coal utilization strategies in line with a sustainable development strategy should be formulated. Advanced technologies, such as coal gasification, co-generation cycle, and coal-bed methane recovery, should be introduced. Use of clean and efficient coal combustion technologies should be encouraged for the construction of new power plants and the reinvestment in low-efficiency power plants and industries. Active trade policies should be established to encourage clean coal technology transfer, foster R&D (research and development) and capacity building within China, and promote dissemination and marketization of new technologies. R&D should also be conducted on low-pollution coal, such as bio-coal (which is composed of coal, biomass and desulfurization agent).

  Natural gas resources should be actively developed, and corresponding pipeline network covering China and its surrounding areas should be constructed. A national plan for natural gas utilization should be formulated and implemented in a timely way. In cities, clean energy such as natural gas should be more widely used. Natural gas or syngas fueled co-generation (heat, power, cold) that is centered around gas turbines or combined circulation should be promoted. At the initial stage, one or two such demonstration projects could be established in hospitals, hotels or universities.

  New energy sources such as solar energy, hydrogen energy, wind energy, tidal energy, and waste-converted energy should be developed in an active way. Long-term plans for the development of nuclear energy should be formulated, provided that safety control technologies and nuclear waste disposal technologies are in place. New energy systems with hydrogen as the main carrier should be developed. At the initial stage, hydrogen could be obtained from coal. Membrane separation technologies should be listed into "national key basic research projects". Organized research should be conducted on the key technical aspects of large-scale manufacturing of hydrogen, and international cooperation will be necessary in this area.

  Demonstrations at village scale should be conducted on how biomass can be gasified to provide cooking gas and heat & electricity in the rural areas. Research should be encouraged to develop power grids that integrate biomass power generation.

  3. On sustainable agriculture

  Agriculture is the foundation of China's national economy. Adjustment of agricultural development strategies and development of intensive agriculture are important for China's food security.

  The Loess Plateau area is very important for regional economic development and ecological protection. China should follow a conservation-based strategy for water and land management. The agricultural and rural development plans of the Loess Plateau area should be re-examined, with a view to integrating sustainable agriculture with ecological construction and industrial development, controlling water and soil loss, creating job opportunities, and overcoming ecological degradation and poverty. Given the fact that there is currently abundant grain supply in China, the importance of developing grassland animal husbandry should be highlighted. While attention should be paid to the recovery of vegetation, grassland animal husbandry should be actively developed in order to increase the income of local farmers, and enhance the capacity of local people to follow the path of sustainable development. More should be done to develop ruminant animal husbandry, especially beef cattle. Local high-quality forages should be utilized, and confined breeding systems should be adopted to reduce the risk of negative impacts of grazing on steep slopes.

  Machine-made wide terraces are more costly, and their long-term effectiveness is limited by management scale, and domestic & international market. Whereas other measures like planting grass strips and promoting soil organic content could be more effective. Converting cultivated land back to forest and grassland is of great significance and should be included in the national Tenth Five-Year Plan.

  Further economic development in China's countryside should be based on comparative advantages of local production. Greater emphasis should be given to: assessing long-term comparative advantage of tree fruit production; capacity building of agriculture extension workers in marketing agricultural products; supporting farmers by providing them with relevant and timely market information; research and development of fruit processing.

  China's agricultural R & D and extension services need to become more client and market oriented. Research institutions and scientists should be encouraged to undertake innovative research on soil and crop management. The current farming systems should be adjusted, especially by reducing tillage frequency. Demonstration projects should be carried out to provide farmers with training of sustainable farming techniques.

  Land property rights should be clarified to encourage farmers to increase investment on land, and to improve the rational use and conservation of natural resources. Rural credit services should be improved in order to promote rural household economic development in less developed areas, and foster the development of non-agricultural industries.

  Planning of energy and mineral resources development in the Loess Plateau should be closely integrated with ecological construction. Part of the revenue from development activities should be used as ecological compensation fees for environmental improvement. Local residents should be allowed to participate in energy development activities in various ways.

  It is necessary to highlight the authority of the management body of the Yellow River Basin. This body should be headed by a senior leader (such as a leader of the State Council) to implement integrated management by drawing upon international experiences, and to effectively coordinate various departments with respect to their respective responsibilities and concerns in resources allocation, ecological protection and compensation, etc.

  4. On practical environmental economic policies

  The Resource pricing system should be adjusted. Resource prices should be able to reflect true production and environmental costs and follow market economy rules. This would help achieve effective resource management and saving. This kind of adjustment should be reflected in economic planning, so as to encourage the saving of water, electricity and raw materials, and the comprehensive utilization of resources.

  The current national economic accounting system should be reformed. Experiments could be carried out in a number of selected regions and industries. By utilizing international experiences, some practical indicators of resources and environment should be defined in some key areas on a step-by-step basis, and be integrated into the existing national economic accounting system, so that the national accounting system in line with sustainable development could be gradually perfected.

  Pollution fees and environmental taxes should be levied on all enterprises that pollute, and they should be based upon the cost of damage caused by the pollution. Environmental taxation should be integrated into financial reforms. In order to reduce management costs for environmental taxation, ways of how to reuse environmental tax revenue should be explored. The marginal cost principle should be used to price electricity, water conservancy, urban pipeline gas, centralized heating supply, wastewater treatment, garbage treatment and transportation infrastructure construction. Taxation incentives or special funds should be set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient factories and facilities.

  Relevant pricing policies should be formulated and implemented to support the sustainable development of urban transportation. Transportation taxation and fees should be used to promote the development of environmentally friendly transportation modes, and to encourage public transportation.

  5. On trade and environment

  Environmental issues related to foreign trade and investment should be given proper attention. A national strategy for the sustainable development of foreign trade should be formulated. The economic, social and environmental aspects of trade should be integrated. Environmental management regulations by foreign trade departments should be established and updated. Incentive mechanisms need to be set up to promote the importation of environmentally friendly products and technologies. There should also be a coordination mechanism between the trade departments and environment departments.

  Efforts should be made to ensure that foreign direct investment and the use of multilateral, bilateral soft loans and commercial loans support China's sustainable development. New sustainable development criteria for screening foreign direct investment should be established. Foreign investors should be encouraged to invest in cleaner technologies and to transfer environmentally sound technologies to China. Efforts should also be taken to prevent those projects that may cause serious environmental pollution from entering the country. Certain open areas in special economic zones could be transformed into demonstration areas for integrating trade, investment and sustainable development.

  China needs a proactive approach to trade and environmental issues as part of its WTO accession plans. WTO accession could provide substantial trade expansion opportunities for certain Chinese sectors. However, these sectors are likely to meet various environmental barriers, including environmental standards, eco-labeling and packaging standards, and environmental management requirements such as ISO 14000. Adequate policies and measures should be put in place to anticipate these barriers. Environmental considerations should be integrated into China's industrial adjustment plans for the major exporting sectors.

  6. On increasing environmental inputs

  The costs of damage caused by environmental pollution to China's economic development account for at least 5% of China's GDP. It is recommended that the Tenth Five-Year Plan put forward specific requirements regarding the percentage of pollution control input in the GNP. It was estimated by the World Bank that, in order to control TSP and SO2 pollution, China's input into environmental pollution should take up at least 1% (and had better take up 2%) of its GNP.

  National inputs into the conservation of ecologically fragile areas, especially the comprehensive treatment of water and soil loss in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, should be increased. Funds for biodiversity protection and the construction & management of natural reserves should be increased. National and local finance departments need to set up special budgets to ensure that biodiversity protection plans are implemented.

  The state should encourage the establishment of development investment mechanism, and guide domestic savings to be invested in activities of sustainable development. A stable and predictable commercial environment should be established on the basis of clear legal framework, practical investment returns and effective decision-making process, to encourage the flow of foreign investment and international capital into China. Environmental protection also means commercial opportunities. Industrial and commercial enterprises, especially privately owned industrial and commercial enterprises, should be encouraged to be engaged in the environmental protection. In order to expedite the approval process of environmental investments, it is necessary for the government and the related departments to raise efficiency and reduce procedural redundancy.

  Construction of environmental infrastructure facilities should be sped up. Since 1998, China has adopted compensation measures and fee policies for environmental infrastructure facilities such as urban wastewater treatment plants, solid wastes disposal facilities (as some other countries have been doing). These measures are conducive to environment and development, and should continue to be adopted and improved in the Tenth Five-Year Period. It will be useful to consider the possibilities of introducing private finance in constructing urban environmental infrastructure facilities. BOT (build-operation-transfer) or PFI (Private Finance Initiative) could be useful examples.

  7. On environmental legislation and public participation

  Environmental legislation and law implementation should be further promoted. Certain new laws and regulations need to be established, and some existing ones need to be revised. For example, legislation on biodiversity protection, cleaner protection and urban eco-environmental protection should be sped up. At the same time, regulatory management should be promoted. For example, management of household wastewater should be strengthened. In the newly established zones of cities and towns, the "three synchronization" system should be implemented for wastewater treatment facilities and residential buildings. In key ecological regions of rivers and lakes and inland river basins, strong management institutions and law enforcement contingents should be set up for specific basins, and water resources should be distributed in a unified way.

  An annual environmental report system and environmental auditing system should be established for key polluting industries and enterprises. The annual environmental reports submitted by polluting enterprises and environmental auditing reports submitted by relevant departments should be made available to public in areas that are likely to be affected by the pollution.

  The public should be encouraged to participate in the decision-making of sustainable development and in environmental education and training. This is especially important for environmental impact assessment, for environmental protection in river basins and coastal regions, and for urban development. Non-governmental organizations should be able to play a bigger role in environmental protection.

  8. On ecological conservation

  Biodiversity protection should be promoted. A sufficiently authoritative national cross-sectoral biodiversity protection coordination body needs to be established, so as to coordinate different departments in protecting resources and ecology and implementing relevant international conventions. Legislation and law enforcement on biodiversity protection should be strengthened. Comprehensive measures should be taken to prevent the destruction and irrational use of wildlife resources, and the negative effects of development projects on nature reserves. Basic research on biodiversity protection should be highlighted. A comprehensive biodiversity inventory of China should be undertaken, and it is desirable that a national natural history museum and data network be established. Special action plans for key areas, sectors, and specific species and communities should be formulated. Efforts of protecting biodiversity should be combined with efforts of controlling flood, as biodiversity protection could effectively contribute to flood control.

  Resource management should be strengthened. Agricultural environmental management should be promoted. Comprehensive prevention and control measures should be carried out against plant diseases and insect pests, and the use of harmful pesticides should be limited. Greater efforts should be made to strengthen environmental management in the mineral industries and promote monitoring and forecasting on weather, climate, earthquake and geological disasters. The development of water resources should be strictly controlled, while protection and management of water resources should be promoted. Attention should be given to siting of underground reservoirs, with a view to the underground storage of water resources. Surveys and assessment for groundwater quality should be conducted across the nation, and effective groundwater monitoring systems should be established. Climate resources should also be developed in a rational way.

  Ecological conservation should be combined with poverty alleviation efforts. Inhabitants living in areas with poor living conditions due to ecological degradation in the western parts of the country should be given energetic support. Economic activities that are conducive to ecological recovery should be developed in those areas, and resettlement of their inhabitants should be carried out in a cautious way. Rehabilitation and improvement of ecological systems should be carried out in line with ecological and economic rules, and related social issues need to be fully considered and tackled in this process.

  Forest construction and protection should be promoted. Continued efforts should be made to protect natural forest resources. The government should have clear understanding of the impact of policies and plans of certain sectors on forest ecology. Construction of forest areas (such as that of forests or grassland) should be implemented in light of local conditions. Environmental impact assessment system should be introduced into forest production. Logging plans shall be based on ecological standards.

  Urban eco-environmental construction should be strengthened. The area of ecological forests and green coverage in cities should be increased. Urban water network and green areas should be planned and built rationally. The quantity and quality of urban eco-environment projects should be promoted.

  The health of the environment should be stressed. Construction and protection of a healthy environment has become an important part of development policies and environment policies. Hard efforts should be made in order to provide the public with a healthy environment. Popular science and education activities on biodiversity should be made available to the public. Scientific, healthy and biodiversity-friendly medication and diet habits by the public should be advocated.

  9. On cleaner production

  The Council is very pleased to note that its recommendation of "setting up pilot zones in certain provinces and municipalities" was immediately adopted after it was put forward last year. The Tenth Five-Year Period will be crucial for the promotion and wider implementation of cleaner production in China. It is hoped that the 10 Demonstration Cities and the Demonstrations in 3 industries, which have been identified by the State Economic and Trade Commission, could be successful, and that this initiative could be extended to other places on that basis.

  Clear understanding should be reached that cleaner production is a key means of achieving sustainable development. Apart from its implementation in industrial enterprises, the concept and methods of cleaner production should also be adopted in municipal administration, agriculture, transportation, architecture, and certain sectors in the tertiary industries, etc. Efforts should be made to tackle certain urgent issues concerning the implementation of cleaner production, such as industrial structural transformation, energy structure optimization, pricing system reform, promotion of non-materialization process (i.e. the process of raising people's living standard by means that are not totally dependent on material consumption, such as culture, art, physical culture, tourism and service, etc.), development of clean coal technologies, establishment of investment mechanism for cleaner production, and strengthening of technical support for medium and small sized enterprises. Closer attention needs to be paid to the assessment on the "safe" distance from industrial zones to cities, so as to reduce the impact of industrial pollution on surrounding areas.

  Relevant bodies should be set up at national, local and industrial levels respectively to strengthen guidance for the implementation of cleaner production and incorporate cleaner production into planning. Exchange of information, training, legislation, development of relevant technologies, demonstration projects, establishment of recycling systems, and public participation are all important aspects of cleaner production. Clear-cut targets should be set and specific measures should be taken in those areas.

  10. On urban planning & urban transport and environment

  The character and industrial structure & distribution of cities should be rationally defined in the light of their conditions and environmental capacities. The principles of sustainable development should be integrated into the planning for Urban construction and expansion. In some areas (such as the Bohai Sea surrounding area) where pollution is serious, environmental capacity is low and resources are relatively scare, it is important to tightly control the construction of high water & energy consuming and heavy polluting projects. In areas that are highly constrained by resources, the size of cities should be limited, so as to ensure the coordinated development of urban construction and resources utilization.

  Close attention should be devoted to the planning of regional network of cities and towns. The regional planning should coordinate the designs of water supply and sewage of various cities within the region, should coordinate the construction of infrastructure facilities, and promote unified management. The planning should aim at ecological conservation, should clearly define different land uses, and exercise tight management and control on land use. In order to achieve better land protection, urban planning should aim at upgrading industrial structure through adjusting land structure and establishing differentiated rental systems for land use. The construction of small cities and towns, as well as the development of urbanization, should be properly guided and regulated. This could be achieved through proper sub-regional (county) planning, with more rational distribution of small cities and towns and their infrastructure facilities, and relatively concentrated township and village industrial enterprises (TVIEs). This could help avoid resources destruction and environmental damage caused by unchecked development of urban construction and TVIEs.

  Public transportation should be encouraged. In order to control the negative impact of increasing vehicles on urban environment, effective and comprehensive urban public transportation policies should be adopted. Environmental considerations should be integrated into urban transportation planning. Attention should be given to the establishment of a clean urban public transport system, including the wide use of clean fuels such as LPG and fuel cells. Development of electric powered public transportation system should be encouraged.

  Rail transportation should also be encouraged. Metro systems could be developed on a step-by-step basis in big cities where local conditions allow, while ground-level light rails and commuter trains between cities and their suburbs could be developed in big and medium sized cities. In developing urban transport systems, consideration needs to be given to the coordination between internal and external transportation in terms of spatial distribution and operation hours.

  The use of motor vehicles should be controlled. The use of private vehicles should be limited in urban areas, and the use of business cars should be reduced gradually. The number and use of motorcycles and scooters that cause serious pollution should be tightly controlled. While bicycle users should be encouraged to turn to the more efficient public transportation, greater efforts need to be made to build and improve special lanes for bicycles and to strengthen traffic management.

  Land use for transportation purposes should be controlled. There needs to be effective coordination between transportation department, construction department and other related departments, so as to coordinate the various means of transportation and avoid unnecessary and repetitive construction of transportation facilities.

  11. On the development of environmental sciences and technologies

  A national strategy for environmental scientific and technological research should be implemented. Clean coal technologies that are suited to the local coal quality and production techniques should be actively developed. Development of new technologies for the future, such as nuclear, biomass and fuel cells, should be promoted. Forecasting and early warning systems for the environment should also be developed.

  Research should be conducted on the key technical aspects of the "Engineering Projects for the Sustainable Development of Yellow River Economic Zone", including: evolution and regulation mechanism of soil quality; technologies for controlling soil degradation; bio-technologies for directive breeding of soil quality; technologies for the prevention and control of non-point source soil pollution; and relevant technical services systems, etc.

  Basic research should be intensified on certain issues related to pollution control, such as the effects of air pollution on human health, how to formulate and implement different emission standards in different regions, and the development of monitoring technologies and equipment, etc.

  The development of environmental industries should be promoted. Research & development of technologies and equipment that are suited to China's unique situation should be encouraged, and the introduction of advanced foreign environmental industrial technologies and equipment should be accelerated. Relevant policies should be formulated to foster the dissemination and marketization of new technologies, and to cultivate the development of environmental companies that provide comprehensive services including designing, building, technology development and consultation, etc.

  Monitoring, early warning, information feedback, and emergency response systems should be established for vital environmental disasters in key areas. Based on the existing environmental disaster monitoring stations and network, new monitoring stations should be added in some key regions and disaster-sensitive areas.

  The education system should be reformed to incorporate training of environmental knowledge and expertise. Environmental education and training for government officials should be strengthened.

  12. On improving environmental management system.

  Coordinated measures should be taken to link economic, social and environmental needs, integrate the concerns of governments at various levels and different sectors, and improve the quality of planning, administration and management.

  The government's internal coordination mechanism for environmental protection should be improved so as to avoid compartmentalization. In order to tackle urgent environmental issues, such as serious pollution accidents, it will be necessary that a certain section is designated to have comprehensive responsibilities. Authoritative power and resources should be rationally concentrated into that section.

  The checking system for the environmental performance of government officials at various levels should be perfected. The government head responsibility system for family planning and environmental protection (in which the government head is directly held responsible for family planning and environmental protection by the upper-level government) should be strengthened. This system may also be adopted for the protection of land and mineral resources. By doing so, the capacity of governments at various levels to manage population, resources and environment could be enhanced.

  The adoption of voluntary certified standards of environmental management for industries, of the type of ISO 14000 and EMAS (Environmental Management and Audit Scheme), should be encouraged.