A guideline to enhance ecological and environmental protection and win the battle against the pollution of air, water and soil was released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council on June 24, specifying targets that China expects to achieve by 2020 and beyond.
The guideline states that by 2020, China's environment will be improved, the emission of major pollutants will be greatly reduced and environmental risks will be effectively brought under control.
Specifically, cities which have failed to meet national air quality standards will have their density of PM2.5—a key indicator of pollution—reduced by over 18 percent from 2015 levels, while the number of good-air days in cities should reach over 80 percent annually. Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will drop at least 15 percent from 2015 levels and the utilization rate of polluted arable land will reach 90 percent.
The Chinese Government has set the target of establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. In addition to improving incomes and living standards, a healthy environment is also integral to realizing this goal. Over the past few decades, development reliant on energy-intensive and polluting industries has caused huge damage to the environment in China.
The Chinese Government has stepped up efforts toward environmental protection in recent years. It has closed down energy-intensive and polluting enterprises and phased out outdated capacity while supporting the development of emerging industries to realize high-quality growth. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has paid unprecedented attention to environmental protection and made substantial progress in fighting pollution and pushing forward the Beautiful China initiative.
However, the country still faces a number of difficulties and challenges in environmental protection. For instance, some local governments are not shouldering their responsibilities and parts of the country continue to be afflicted by severe air pollution.
According to the guideline, local governments are required to draft and assign a list of responsibilities to departments and report their progress to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council every year. Local governments will be evaluated on their environmental protection efforts, and these evaluations will be regarded as key indicators for promoting and punishing officials.