China to punish polluters

China said Wednesday it would punish officials who failed to fulfil emissions reduction targets, warning the nation’s current environmental situation was extremely serious.

“The energy-saving, emissions reduction situation is very grim, particularly since the third quarter of 2009 when high-energy, high-emissions industries increased rapidly,” China’s State Council, or Cabinet, said. “Energy needs have hugely increased, energy consumption has intensified, the speed of reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions has slowed, and they are even starting to increase again.”

China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity — the measure of greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product — by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.

But it has already warned this year that its environment is still deteriorating, prompting speculation it could miss its energy goals.

Premier Wen Jiabao, who heads up the State Council, laid out a series of measures Wednesday to help reverse the trend, including punishing local authorities that did not achieve their targets, according to Xinhua.

“Areas that achieve their energy-saving targets must be rewarded, those that haven’t must make their main leaders and relevant leaders accountable, and they will be punished accordingly, and might even be dismissed,” he said.

The State Council also ordered local authorities to cut electricity and water to those projects that violated rules, and financial institutions to stop giving them loans.

The Government has already said it will spend 83 billion yuan (US$12 billion) on promoting emissions cuts in 2010.

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