China Vows to Curb Emissions as Pollution Fuels Social Unrest

Chinese environmental protection officials pledged to step up their efforts to curb emissions as rising levels of pollution spurs social unrest in the world’s second-biggest economy.

“We need to continuously speed up implementation of plans to prevent air pollution,” Wu Xiaoqing, vice environmental protection minister, said at a briefing held as part of annual legislative meetings in Beijing and aired nationwide by China’s state broadcaster today. “We hope to ease worsening air pollution in a short period.”

Chinese authorities have sought to appease public anger after smog in Beijing hit hazardous levels on 20 days in January. Pollution has surpassed land disputes as the biggest cause of protests in China, Chen Jiping, a former leading member of the Communist Party’s Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs, said this month.

The nation will implement pilot projects to control coal consumption in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai and the provinces of Shandong and Guangdong, Wu said today. Authorities will also require large state-owned companies to report their pollution emissions publicly this year, he said.

China plans to build more than 440 air monitoring stations in 116 cities this year, Wu said. The State Council, China’s cabinet, estimated in August that it may spend 2.37 trillion yuan ($380 billion) on conservation and emissions cuts in the five years through 2015.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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