China embraces greatest achievement in environmental protection

China experienced its greatest improvement in ecological and environmental protection from 2016 to 2020 after the completion of the main objectives and tasks outlined in the 13th Five-Year Plan, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

This year is the last year of the plan in which more attention has been given to environmental protection – targets for cutting carbon emissions and optimizing energy use. Up till the end of last year, eight out of nine projected goals had been accomplished in terms of concentration of fine particles, carbon emissions, water quality and the elimination of other chemical pollutants, Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of ecology and environment, said.

Zhao told a press conference on October 21 that the number of days with excellent or good air quality in 2020 is expected to reach 84.5% by the end of the year, comfortably meeting the goal as outlined in the plan.

On top of that, China has also contributed significantly to tackling climate change by controlling carbon emissions, promoting energy conservation, boosting the development of green energy and actively participating in international governance. Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP continues to decline and carbon intensity has decreased by 18.2% compared to 2015. Since 2010, sales of new energy cars have taken up 55 percent of the global figure, making China the country with the largest number of new energy vehicles in the world.

Zhao said the achievement is the result of a continuously improved management system in the construction of ecological civilization and stronger laws and regulation. 

Having said that, challenges still remain. "Our industrial structure still relies heavily on the chemical industry, the energy industry still mainly relies on coal, and transportation is still highway-based," Zhao said. "Meanwhile, the world is undergoing profound and complex changes, the risks and challenges are growing every day, unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. China's environmental protection is still an arduous task and the road ahead is long and tortuous."

"We will continue our efforts in environmental protection and fighting against climate change based on the previous experiences in the next five years." 

(All photos via VCG. )

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