Green safeguards lagging, report says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland's efforts at environmental protection are lagging behind economic and social development, a national report released yesterday said, adding to the growing concern about environmental destruction.

The China Modernisation Report 2007 found the mainland ranked 100th of 118 developing and developed countries in the study based on 2004 data, Xinhua said.

'Compared with social and economic modernisation, China's environmental modernisation lags far behind,' said He Chuanqi , director of the research group that put out the report. The group comprised experts and scholars from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Science and Technology and universities.

China's economy has been growing at double-digit pace for several years. Last year, gross domestic product growth was the fastest in 11 years, at 10.7 per cent. But the growth has come at the expense of a deteriorating environment, which has become one of the biggest threats to sustainable development and citizens' health.

The report found that China's consumption of natural resources in 2004 was 100 times more than developed countries such as Japan and France, as well as South Korea. Its generated industrial waste was 20 times more than Germany, 18 times that of Italy and 12 times that of South Korea and Britain. Air pollution was seven times worse than France, Canada and Sweden.

Professor He recommended an approach based on the principle of modernisation and promotion of green industries. It is expected to bring the modernisation level to a middle ranking by 2050.

In order to ensure proper development, the report recommended compensation, accountability and assessment systems to ensure that environmental protection standards were met and kept.

It said the critical period was between 2010 and 2030, when industrialisation and urbanisation neared completion and the population peaked, pushing demand for resources to its highest level.

The rankings in the report were based on 30 indicators, including carbon dioxide discharges, sewage disposal rates and the safety of drinking water.