China failing to meet environmental goals

China's rapid economic growth has prevented it from meeting nearly half of its goals for environmental protection, with the level of sulphur dioxide emissions rising by 27 percent over the past five years, the government says.

China had set a target of cutting discharges of sulphur dioxide, a health threatening gas, by 10 percent in 2000-2005. It set the same target for reducing emissions of carbon monoxide, but only managed a 2 percent cut, the State Environmental Protection Agency said in a report carried by state media on Thursday.

The report, posted on the agency's Web site, cited surging energy consumption due to the economic boom, which has kept growth in the gross domestic product above 9 percent.

"Some regions set more value on pursuing rapid GDP growth, sacrificing the environment and public health," the report said.

Of 20 environmental goals, eight were not achieved, including reducing discharges of carbon dioxide and industrial solid waste and expanding the proportion of waste water treatment, it said.

The targets were based on the assumption that China's energy consumption in 2005 would be 1.5 billion tons of standard coal,  a common measure for energy use. Actual consumption last year was 2.2 billion tons, the report said.

Coal fired power plants are China's biggest source of sulphur dioxide emissions. Installed capacity for such plants reached 500 megawatts in 2005, 25 percent above the original expected 400 megawatts of capacity, it said.

The report also cited limited progress in projects aimed at boosting waste water treatment along the Huai River and other severely polluted bodies of water. Of 256 projects, only 54 percent were on target. Poor maintenance and antiquated equipment at aging factories were increasingly causing environmental accidents, it noted, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team