China stimulus plan not green enough, says official

China's $586m economic stimulus plan lacks measures to protect the environment, according to a top official.

Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian said the program - which was set up last year to counter the effects of the global financial crisis - had defects, which included a lack of measures to protect the environment.

The stimulus package led to investments in infrastructure projects and factories, but new industrial operations had created environmental problems in the country's central and western regions, Zhou told the China Daily, the country's state-run English newspaper.

Other negative consequences, which were uncovered during a fact-finding mission by his ministry, included a marked decline in pollution control by the corporate sector and a more relaxed attitude to environmental protection by companies.

Zhou said he would offset the impact by exercising the ministry's power to approve and review new projects. In the three months to February, it had rejected or suspended approval of 14 polluting and high-energy consumption projects that had development budgets totaling $15bn.

Despite the problems created by new factories, project monitoring had played an important role in reducing the emission of pollutants, said Zhou.

China claims that sulfur dioxide emissions dropped 5.9 per cent in 2008 from a year earlier, while chemical oxygen demand - a measure of water pollution - was reduced by 4.4 per cent.

The country, which is the world's largest emitter of sulfur dioxide, had previously promised to cut the two key pollution measures by 10 per cent between 2006 and 2010.

Zhao Hualin, the Ministry of Environmental Protection's department chief of pollution emission control, told the China Daily that the targeted emission cuts would likely be achieved ahead of schedule.

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