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Speech at the Opening Ceremony by Li Ruihuan When Meeting with International Members of CCICED


  It is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to meet with environmental experts and officials from different parts of the world in this most beautiful season of Beijing.

  First, I'd like to offer my warmest welcome and sincere thanks to our friends who have come to Beijing to attend the III Meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. I hear that, out of great concern for China's environmental protection, you put forward a number of very good suggestions and recommendations for China's integration of environment and development during the meeting. The Chinese Government appreciates very much your effort.

  China is faced with many environmental problems, among which energy structure and the utilization models of energy constitute a biggest and most urgent one.

  Residents in many of the Chinese cities use coal ovens in individual households. The heat efficiency is only 10%. But the transportation in and out of the city of coal and coal ash causes the sky to be smoke-covered and dust to spread everywhere. Even the inside of a house is by no means clean and clothes need to be washed several times.

  Developed countries have long solved this problem. When and how China could do the same has always been an issue of great concern for the Chinese Government an d the public. To change the dispersed way of household coal burning and firewood burning o central heating would be the goal of our efforts. Although more and m ore cities are changing their way of heating, China is still faced with huge difficulties in this regard. But we will never give up our effort toward that direction.

  In terms of the use of natural gas, there exist big differences in China. Some departments think that natural gas should be used for fertilizer factories, chemical plants or other enterprises. There is a Dagang Oilfield in Tianjin. Its natural gas could have been used for the city's heating and cooking. But, because of some objection, the gas is led to Changzhou for a fertilizer plant. As a result, Tianjin has to transport more than 10 million tons of coal a year for fuel. I personally think that the most rational way of using natural gas is to make it t he energy of city life. It is simple, clean and economizing if we put it into pipes for heating. If you find the idea correct, Please spread it far and wide in China. It is easier to help people understand the advantage and disadvantage once you approach the issue from the point of view of environmental protection.

  China is a big developing country and a country with lots of environmental concerns. The recent economic development in China has been rapid and of a large scale. Any neglect of environmental protection will result in environmental pollution, causing terrible effects. For example, industrial development can not do with out water. However, building a factory in the water source area will pollute the water. This has happened already in many places. And atmospheric pollution affects not only the local places but may also pollute neighboring countries. Therefore, the environmental protection in China is of international significance. Any one who is honestly concerned with the global environment should show concern for and study China's environmental protection issues, and help China to improve t he work.

  China has made enormous progress in terms of environmental protection in the pas t few years. The awareness has been raised, laws and regulations have been formulated, various measures have been adopted and a lot of experience has been accumulated. All this has helped to slow down the speed of pollution to a great extent. The strategic policy, i.e. simultaneous design, implementation and development of economic, urban and rural, and environmental projects to realize unified benefits for economy, society and environment, is indeed a summary of the achievements and experience in the past number of years. But surely there are difficulties and problems. To score greater results, we need to make arduous effort.

  The following few problems must be dealt with if we want to improve our environmental protection work:

  1. The issue of awareness. This is a problem not only with the public but also with officials, including leaders. We have to help people to understand that the issue of pollution control and environmental protection concerns not just the immediate interest, but the long-term interest; not just affects the local interest but the interest of the whole; and not affects a small number of people but a great majority. Without a proper solution to this problem, which will in turn damage the earth, all efforts will become useless, even if we can perform wonderfully in other areas. If human beings can not survive, that is the end of all.

  This is so simple. But it is again rather difficult for a simple reasoning to be generally accepted. That is why we must do a good job in publicity and education to improve the environmental awareness of the public and officials. Our purpose is to help them attach great importance to environment and protect, out of their own will, the earth upon which human beings depend for survival.

  2. The issue of economic benefits. From an overall point of view, environmental benefit does not go against social and economic benefits. But from a local point of view, some people would discharge waste water into the river and pollute the water and emit waste gases into the air just to insure advantage for themselves. This is harmful for the society. We should stop form the very beginning those behaviour beneficial only for the local interest not the interest of the society. For future construction of factories, environmental protection should be included in project design, and enjoy an appropriate increase of investment. At present, it is true that you spend more money, but from a long-term and an integrated point of view, it is worthwhile.

  3. The issue of organization and management. To improve environmental protection, effort should be made to intensify management, including administrative and le gal means for compulsory management. If we look at the experience of other countries in the world, we can see that nothing could be done without government administrative and legislative interference.

  Also, there must be a set of economic measures in environmental management. Economic incentives must be adopted to make sure that those who pollute will suffer big economic losses. It should not be the case that the polluter profits instead of suffering. How to work out such a system deserves our further study. In a word, we have to make it understood that when people are considering individual and local interest, they must, first of all, put into consideration the issue of environment and the public interest of the whole society.

  4. The issue of science and technology. In terms of pollution prevention and control, we are faced not only with economic issues but also issues concerning science and technology, i.e. prevention and modernization of means of control. Without scientific and technical means, which are practical and effective, there won' t be any success of the work in environmental protection. At present, many of the effective scientific and technological results have not been sufficiently applied to practice. Meanwhile, further study is needed to address other environmental problems, which is also in great number. Therefore, we must further our scientific research, try our best to adopt advanced results in this connection and learn form other countries their successful experience in order to solve the problems.

  Environmental protection is a common task for the whole of mankind. Since it is an international issue, the solution of it must be a result of international cooperation. Human beings live on the same earth and in the same atmosphere and common problems need common effort for solution.

  The developed countries have taken a roundabout course in environmental protection. They should, in an active manner, help the developing countries with their advanced technology and experience, so that the developing countries could avoid the detour and catch up with the advanced level rather quickly. In terms of environmental cooperation, neither economic interest, nor patent or secrecy keeping should be over stressed. This is because environmental protection is a noble cause, benefiting the whole mankind, and cooperation here is of a greater importance than others.

  The Chinese Government attaches great attention to the successful experience in environmental protection acquired by other countries, and also to the cooperation with them.

  The Chinese Government gives special importance to each meeting of the Council and has seriously listened to and studied your suggestions and recommendations. W e hope that, after each meeting and with our earnest effort, practical results can be seen in China's territory of 9.6 million square kilometres, and with that we would be able to express our heartfelt thanks to all experts who take China's environmental protection so much to their hearts.

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