Green Cabinet Leads Us to a Green Future
By Jia Feng
Compared with developed countries in the West, China has a much shorter history of environmental protection. Government officials did not pay much attention to this issue until the event of Guanting Reservoir pollution took place in 1972. Western countries, likewise, having long suffered from pollution problems like smog in London, Chisso-Minamata disease and Photochemical Smog in Los Angeles, later worked out series of environmental laws, regulations and standards; they established separate environmental institutes, adding environmental and ecological protection to their government functions.
In June of 1972, Chinese government sent a large delegation group to the UN Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm. This was the first large-scale international conference with China after it resumed lawful seat in the UN. It was still in the midst of the ten chaotic years that China supported the UN’s proposal with such enthusiasm. This was out of the expectation of other countries, and showed the Premier Zhou Enlai’s understanding and foresight of environmental issue and international relations. After the delegation reported the result of this conference, Zhou Enlai decided to hold a nationwide conference for concrete plans of environmental protection.
The First National Environmental Protection Conference took place in August, 1973. Environmental protection plans were worked out; a special environmental protection organization--Environment Protection Leading Group Office was established. 1973 became the first year of China’s environmental protection.
National Environmental Protection Agency came as an independent agency directly under the State Council in 1988 after 15 years of practical efforts. Ten years after that, NEPA was renamed State Environmental Protection Administration of China, with the same level of ministry.
36 years ago, Chinese delegation went to the Stockholm environment conference in order to “observe and learn” as a new comer in the field of environmental protection; today, China has already been playing a major part in global environmental protection, ranking the fourth in economy ?worldwide and the top with its emission of pollutant like SO2. Some scholars even say: the success of China’s environmental protection will contribute to the sustainability of global development; while its failure will reduce global efforts to “nothing”. With its special international status, China’s environmental protection, especially measures dealing with climate changes, has become an indispensable topic in foreign leaders’ visits to China.
However, with its population over 1.3 billion and a well-off society to build, China is now facing difficulties far greater than those in any of the industrialized countries. China has to keep developing rapidly to meet social requirements; yet China needs more technology, financial support and experience to face challenges from both inside and outside. It is crucial to take obtained advantages to develop with sustainability, rather than repeating the “treatment after pollution” mistake made by Western countries. It is also important to understand the way to build an ecological civilization in an energy- and resource-efficient and environment-friendly society guided by scientific outlook on development, and get support and reduce conflicts and pressures with environmental diplomacy.
Faced with these challenge, Premier Wen Jiabao said: “I want to be an environmental premier” when meeting foreign delegation of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development on November 29th, 2007. This demonstrates the attention of the Chinese leaders on environmental protection and the determination to solve these problems. Over 100 days later, nearly 3000 representatives presented at the Eleventh National People’s Congress showed their support with practical work—Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China has been established.
The birth of the Ministry has realized the “glory and dream” of several generations of China’s staff people in environmental system. It embodies the expectations of 1.3 billion Chinese people for the day when they can “drink clear water, breath clean air and eat quality-safe food.”
We have full reason to believe that Chinese staff people in environmental system will certainly “work together closely for the same belief, make great progress and be prepared for danger in times of safety…” (Zhou Shengxian’s words); with their hard work up to the great duty on their shoulders, they will not disappoint their people. Green Cabinets is surely going to lead us to a green future!