On May 25, MEE Minister Huang Runqiu gave a virtual press conference during the Two Sessions Meeting, the annual plenary sessions of China’s legislative delegates (the National People’s Congress) and political advisers (the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference). He answered questions covering four topics: (1) MEE’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) the achievement of the 13th Five Year Plan’s (FYP, 2016-2020) environmental and climate targets and the work plan for the 14th FYP (2021-2025), (3) reasons for the heavy air pollution during Chinese New Year despite a COVID-19-induced reduction in human activity and (4) the role of central environment supervision and inspection.
According to Huang, MEE will continue to conduct its environmental protection work in a strict and professional manner. It will not change targets or standards because of economic difficulties caused by COVID-19, and the country will continue to pursue green development.
The minister pointed out that seven out of nine environmental indicators set in the 13th FYP have already been reached. MEE will continue to work hard this year on the remaining two indicators, namely carbon emissions per unit of GDP, and the ratio of good days in cities at and above the prefecture-level. Looking ahead to the upcoming 14th FYP, Huang disclosed that China will focus on three major tasks regarding climate and environment: (1) to control and reduce pollution; (2) to promote ecological conservation and restoration; and (3) to build up a modern environmental governance system (as laid out in a recent guideline).
Furthermore, Huang explained that the heavy air pollution during Chinese New Year mainly occurred because the environmental carrying capacity, which is affected by weather conditions, dropped much more significantly than the reduction of pollutant emissions due to less human activity.
The Minister also mentioned that the central ecological and environment supervision and inspection mechanism has had significant positive effects on environmental protection, efficient problem solving and awareness raising at the local level. The second round of inspections will be carried out within this year.