Great changes in China’s environment protection
China has experienced thirty years in environmental protection since the first national environmental protection conference in 1973 to the upgrading of the Ministry of Environmental Protection MEP) from an administration in 2008. What is more, it has managed to put itself among the major 27 ministries and commissions in the Cabinet.
The elevation of the environmental agency within the government system has mirrored the increasing importance the central leadership has attached on the “green drive” at a time when China is confronted with a worsening environment caused by an inconsistent economic development mode.
The past three decades witnessed the rapid economic growth and development at the cost of the environment. The rapid worsening of the nation’s environment of China’s environment and the draining of its natural resources are harming the health of millions of people while still threatening the continuity of the economic development.
Urged by public opinion in taking measures to curb the air and water pollution problems, the central government has improved its environmental policies as well as implementation reflected in the “Scientific Outlook on Development” and the national Five-year Plan to fight against pollutants from 2006 to 2010.
Of all the moves carried out in Beijing, the transformation of the environmental agency into a ministry is widely acknowledged to be the most crucial step in its aspiration to improve the watchdog’s supervision.
However, as many experts predicted, altering the name of the administration does not ensure the results because the environmental protection bureaus at provincial level and below are directly supervised by the local governments who are responsible for the personnel changes and funding. Thus, it is always unpractical to anticipate a local environmental protection bureau to work all by itself and supervise the government independently.
Despite that the central government may unswervingly adhere to its environmental protection policies, inadequate cooperation from the local government may turn out to be a root problem. Local governments lack both the motives and the capabilities to carry out mature projects. As the High ranking Chinese leaders often assure “clean water and clean air for everybody,” this seemingly simple goal is, in essence, still an uneasy job.
Another problem lies in the redundancy of administrative function of several departments. MEP calls for the coordination of many departments, namely agricultural, forestry, water resources. As its motion may harm the interests of other departments, MEP is confronted with much pressure.
Although the transformation of the environmental protection administration might not be an almighty cure, it has still given people hopes.
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