China declares war on pollution

27.08.14 By

Environmental reform is Beijing’s top priority.

China will declare war on pollution, as part of a commitment to overhauling its unsustainable economic model, the country’s premier said.

Li Keqiang said reform was the top priority as he set out his first annual policy report since becoming premier of the world’s second largest economy, but soothed anxieties about the impact by maintaining a 7.5% growth target.

He described pollution as “nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development”, underscoring the broader message that China must not only shut down coal-fired furnaces, but shift to a different kind of development.

Li was addressing the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the largely rubber-stamp parliament that meets annually in Beijing. Amost 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People observed a minute’s silence for victims of Saturday’s terrorist attack in Kunming as the meeting began.

Years of double-digit growth, driven by exports and investment, helped millions climb out of poverty but has led to social and environmental problems.

While the meeting opened under blue skies in Beijing, official statistics showed that much of the year has been blighted by smog.

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