China vows to punish polluters with ‘iron fist’

BEIJING: “We are going to punish violators with an iron fist who destroy the ecology or environment, without exception,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping, while reviewing the work report of the State Council together with National People’s Congress (NPC) deputies from Jiangxi Province on Friday.Xi said that environmental protection is key to ensuring the livelihood of the people, imploring citizens to care for the environment as “one’s own eyes and life.”

His remarks echoed China’s government work report for 2015, which said “environmental pollution is a blight on people’s quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts. We must fight it with all our might.”

This year’s government work report pays unprecedented attention to ecological and environmental protection. For the first time, it put forward that China will cut the intensity of carbon dioxide by at least 3.1 percent.

“As a responsible member of the international community, China has made great efforts in cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions,” said Wang Yi, director general of Institute of Policy and Management, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He noted that cutting carbon dioxide and other pollutant emissions would spur enterprises to improve technology and strengthen management, both of which are key to upgrading industrial operations.

“To achieve sustainable development, we must optimize the energy structure. The fundamental way is … to promote economic transformation and upgrading. The new requirements for carbon reduction are actually the new driving force,” said Zhang Hui, mayor of Weihai in East China’s Shandong Province.

China’s new Environmental Protection Law, which promises harsh penalties for environmental infractions, took effect in January.

“The implementation of the new law improved law enforcement and laid a good foundation to combat illegal activities and crimes against the environment,” said Gao Jixi, director general of Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

In recent years, China has made significant progress in its efforts to repair the environment. Forestation in China reached 90.41 million mu (6.03 million hectares) in 2014.

“Ecological and environmental protection is closely related to people’s livelihood,” said Gao.

“Nature is of great value. China should pay attention to investing in natural capital and accumulating green wealth,” Wang said, adding that as long as positive measures are taken, China will usher in a bright future of ecological and environmental protection. (People’s Daily)