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Guangdong Admits It Is Unlikely To Meet 2010 Pollution Targets

He Huifeng – SCMP – Updated on Oct 15, 2008

Guangdong authorities have admitted for the first time that the province will probably be unable to meet five-year pollution-reduction targets as promised to the central government, mainland media reported. Officials also said 44 towns and one city in Guangdong still did not have any waste water treatment facilities, while waste water treatment plants in several other cities were lying idle or underused.

In 2005, Guangdong signed an agreement with the State Environmental Protection Administration pledging to cut sulfur dioxide emissions and lower chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 15 per cent by 2010. Sulfur dioxide is a chief air pollutant, while a COD test is an important parameter determining the amount of organic pollution in water.

But a midterm review by the provincial environmental protection bureau showed emissions were still severe and a lot more effort was required if the 2010 targets were to be met, Nanfang Daily said yesterday. The review said sulfur dioxide emissions declined by about only 9 per cent between 2005 and June this year, meeting just 60 per cent of the 2010 target. COD progress was even more depressing, with the province meeting just one-third of its target.

The latest statistics are an embarrassment to Guangdong’s leaders, who have repeatedly pledged to clean up the environment.

A provincial environmental official said he released the report to raise public awareness about the seriousness of pollution and to warn city governments to rethink their development strategies. “The developed areas, such as the Pearl River Delta, are doing better. But the pollution problems remain severe, or worse, in those areas in north or west Guangdong,” the official said.

Wang Canfa , an environmental expert at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the province should introduce more restrictions to meet the 2010 targets. “It is definitely not an unrealistic goal for Guangdong to cut emissions by 15 per cent,” she said. “Authorities always cite revenue losses or unemployment as excuses to not remove high-polluting heavy industries.” Professor Wang also urged Guangdong to increase investment in environmental protection.

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