SpeakchesYou are here:Home > Events > Annual Meetings > 2009 > Speakches

Special Speech at the Opening Ceremony (Zhou Shengxian)


Respected guests, ladies and gentlemen,

  Good afternoon!

  The Annual General Meeting this year will carry out in-depth discussion with the theme "energy, environment and development". It is a necessary and significant theme. Now, I will share with you my viewpoints with the speech titled "Harmonizing the relationship between energy and environment under the guidance of ecological civilization".

  In some sense, development is combustion. Resources is burnt to generate GDP and pollution is left. Traditional development mode consumes more resources with heavy pollution and sharp contradiction between economic growth and environmental protection. Scientific development means the less consumption of re-sources, the better, the less pollution, the better, "zero emission" will be the best. The former is "resource conservation" and the latter is "environment-friendly". In summary, it is sound and fast development. According to this viewpoint, the traditional "prosperity" based on "extensive combustion" at the cost of the environment is superficial, weak and not sustained, and the disaster of delayed implementation. "Scientific combustion" should be reasonable, equitable and last long. It is clean and safe combustion that saves energy.

  Energy is the important source of economic and social development. Environmental issue to a large extent is energy issue because of combustion. Energy and environment issue in nature is development issue. Fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas have become the dominant energy source for economic and social development with rapid increase in consumption since industrial revolution. At present, total production and consumption amount of energy in the world exceeds 12 billion t of oil equivalent each year, about 90% of them is Fossil fuel. While creating huge physical wealth, the development and utilization of energy also brings about a series of severe environmental problems including air pollution, ecological damage and climate change, intensification of the contradiction between man and nature, which imposes direct threat to sustainable economic and social development.

  The relations among energy, environment and development in China are particularly special and complex. It is more difficult with greater efforts for China to address the problem compared with many other countries. With fast progress in building a well-off (Xiaokang) society in an all-round way, China is facing more serious challenge in environmental protection due to the development and utilization of energy. In energy mix, coal consumption went up from 770 million tons in 1985 to 2.59 billion tons in 2007, accounting for 40.4% of total world consumption from the previous 17.3%. In 2008, total coal consumption rose to 2.74 billion tons. Both the production and consumption of coal account for about 70% of total amount of primary energy. It is expected that this energy portfolio with coal dominance will not change for a consi-derable long period of time.

  Coal combustion is the main source of SO2, NOx, soot and CO2 in the atmosphere. In terms of development stage, China is at accelerated development stage of industrialization and urbanization. It is expected that energy and resource consumption will inevitably continue to rise in future years. In terms of industrial structure, China is the country with highest degree of industrialization among major economies in the world with dominance of heavy & chemical industries in industrial structure. This leads to huge consumption of energy and resources in economic & social activities at present stage. At technical level, China does not have enough capacity in self innovation in environmental protection technology. And the mechanism beneficial to the transfer of the high-efficiency and clean energy technologies from developed countries to developing countries has not been developed. In terms of international division of labour, China is at the low end of industrial chain in international trade, the export of huge amount of products aggravates energy consumption and environmental protection in China. According to estimate, the discharge of about 30% of SO2, 25% of smoke and 20% COD in China come from export trade, this means that China shoulders huge transfer emission of developed countries.

  Too high cost of resources and the environment of economic growth requires our second thought, giving-up, leap-frog and innovation of the traditional industrial culture, which will create new development mode and facilitate the development of new culture. Therefore, ecological civilization emerges as times require and becomes the option of current times for ef-fectively addressing of the issue of re-sources, environment and economic growth.

  The 17th National Congress of Communist Party of China clearly points out that China will develop ecological civilization and identifies it as a strategic task. At the Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th Na-tional Congress of Communist Party, CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao once again raised the concept of developing ecological civilization to the same strategic height as of economic, political, cultural and social development and took it as a component of the overall arrangement of the cause of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The emergence of this important strategy is both the progress of cultural form and improvement of social system; both the enhancement of values and transformation of life styles; both the direction of new path of environmental protection in China and beneficial attempt in the process of human civilization.

  Ecological civilization is the summary of physical, spiritual and institutional achievements of human beings when they develop and utilize natural resources while taking initiative to protect nature, actively improve the relations between man and nature and develop a good eco-environment.

  Ecological civilization seeks for achieving harmony between man and nature, environment and economy as well as individual and society at higher level. Traditional industrial civilization leads to the conflicts between man and nature, while ecological civilization will firstly redevelop the harmony between man and nature. This harmony is not returning the harmony to agricultural civilization, rather, it bases on inheritance and development of existing human civilization is the voluntary, long-term and high-level harmony. The harmony between man and nature and between the environment and economy will greatly facilitate the harmony between in-dividuals and society.

  As a higher form of human civilization and a component of the overall arrangement of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, the development of ecological civilization mainly involve such contents as advanced eco-ethic concept, developed ecological economy, perfect ecological system, basic ecological security and good ecological environment. With understanding natural law, respecting and protecting nature as the precondition, eco-logical civilization focuses on the harmony between man and nature, you and me, individual and society. Based on the carrying capacity of resources and the environment, ecological civilization aims at establishing sustainable industrial structure, mode of production and consumption pattern and improving the capacity in sustainable de-velopment. It emphasizes the initiative and self-discipline of people, mutual dependence and interaction between man and nature.

  The idea of development of ecological civilization has been put forward under the guidance of the scientific outlook on development, grave environmental situation due to rapid industrialization, urbanization and development of new countryside, accurate understanding of environmental change trend, introduction of international environmental protection experience and adaptation to current and future environmental requirement. This idea has deep theoretical source and sound foundation in practice.

  First, the development of ecological civilization originates from the internal requirement of the outlook on scientific development. The development of ecological civilization is an important theoretical outcome under the guidance of the outlook on scientific development and an organic component of the outlook on scientific development. The top priority of the outlook on scientific development is development, so is the first priority of the development of ecological civilization. That is, better ensuring, facilitating and optimizing economic development within the carrying capacity of the environment. The essence of the outlook on scientific development is people first. Man is the son and a member of nature with environment as its very foundation for survival. Good environment is the inevitable pursuit for the achievement of overall human development. The fundamental requirements for the outlook on scientific development are comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development. The key is that we should take economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development of socialist China as an interactive and mutual-facilitating whole and process. The fundamental method of the outlook on scientific development is overall planning and all-round consideration, which requires the overall consideration of the relations between man and nature during development and protecting the environment well when developing and utilizing natural resources. The development of ecological civilization is an important measure for the practice of the outlook on scientific development.

  Second, the development of ecological civilization originates in the rational absorption of excellent traditional Chinese culture. Seeking for harmony is the quintessence of traditional culture of the Chinese nation. The way of Heaven lies in harmony with diversity. Contrary to the characteristics of "fight" in western civilization, the traditional Chinese culture is featured by "he (harmony)". The meaning of "he" is fully reflected in "the harmony of man with nature" of Daoism, "justice and humanity" of Confucianism and "benevolence" spirit of Buddhism. The most lively and vivid expression is the "Taiji figure", the mutual hug of negative fish and the positive one with seamless internal border and the external of the two fish constituting a perfect circle, showcasing the unity of opposite between man and nature. Man and nature are an inseparable whole. Harmony with nature and coordinated development are the must for human development.

  Third, the development of ecological civilization originates in the scientific upgrading of industrial civilization. Traditional industrial culture is characterized by conquering and reforming nature by human beings. The increasingly prominent malpractice and disastrous effect hard to overcome make human beings rethink its relations between man and nature and gradually awaken. Thus, human beings are actively seeking for the harmony between man and eco-environment at higher level. Different from traditional pollution control and ecological restoration, the development of ecological civilization means the correction, upgrading and surpassing of the traditional industrial civilization and drives the building of a resource saving and environment-friendly society.

  Fourth, the development of ecological civilization originates from the historic certainty and current urgency in striving for sustainable development. The evolution of environment and development of China over the past several decades show the characteristics of leap-frog, concentrated, extensive with high carbon emission. China has been enjoying rapid economic development since its adoption of the reform and opening up policy. Its industrialization process has been shortened by a big margin with the occurrence of various kinds of problems in shortened period of time compared with traditional industrialized countries, new environmental problems continually emerge while the environmental contradictions accumulated in the long time have not been settled. Extensive economic growth mode with dominance of heavy industries in industrial structure together with the difficulty of changing the energy mix dominated by coal in the short term further sharpen the contradiction between man and nature. China has not and will not address the environmental problems by plundering resources or shifting its pollution. All these lead to grave challenge to environmental protection in China due to energy consumption and economic growth. Therefore, the development of ecological civilization, protection well the eco-environment, promotion of the shift of growth mode and industrial restructuring is vital to both the implementation of people first policy and sustainable development of economy and society.

  Ecological civilization has the following four distinct characteristics:

  ───In value, ecological civilization focuses on equal attention to the environment with humanistic care. The value of ecological civilization requires the following three changes: 1) change from man as the main body with values but nature to both man and nature as the main body with value; 2) change from the traditional "fighting a battle against nature" and "conquering nature" to the "harmony between man and nature"; 3) change from optimization of profits as the driver for economic growth to the optimization of welfare as the new requirement for ecological economy. Ecological civilization stresses the utilization, protection and development of nature with humanistic care under the pre-condition of respecting natural law. Ecological civilization and awareness should become popular awareness, ecological ethics should become social ethics with wide influence.

  ───In terms of practical approaches, ecological civilization is reflected by conscious and self-disciplinary life style. Seeking for benign interaction between economic growth and ecosystems and adhering to ecology-friendly economic development, ecological civilization seeks for reforming the production mode with high consumption and emission with heavy pollution. Based on ecology-friendly technologies, ecological civilization would achieve benign circulation of social production, turn green industry & environment-friendly industries into an important engine for economic growth. Ecological ci-vilization means that we advocate and practice green consumption and choose the life style that meets self requirement but with no damage to natural environment.

  ───In terms of social relations, ecological civilization promotes a harmonious society. With the rise of environ-mental pollution accidents and relevant complaints in China year by year, environmental problem has become an important factor affecting social harmony. With the development of ecological civilization, we infiltrate it into social management, seek for intergeneration environmental equity and justice and environmental equity and justice among different social groups, expand public participation in environmental protection and facilitate the harmony between man and nature, and between individuals and the whole society.

  ───In terms of time, ecological civilization is an arduous and long-term process. China is still in the mid of indu-strialization. The environmental protection problem of developed countries over 100 years concentrate in China during its fast development period. Dual tasks and huge pressure are confronting the development of ecological civilization, that is, making up the missed process of industrial civilization and develop well ecological civilization. Therefore, we cannot expect that we can succeed in the development of ecological civilization in the fortnight, we must make unremitting efforts.

  Ecological civilization is valued for innovation, focused on development and succeeds with continuous efforts. We must base on the current, have our eyes on the long term, make an overall plan with unremitting efforts. Starting from the most urgent and demanding aspects, link and tasks for the development of ecological civilization, we will practically address the most prominent problem, facilitate active progress in the development of ecological civilization in order to obtain good achievements.

  At present, the main tasks for the development of ecological civilization are the followings:

  First, strive for the development of a production and consumption mode that meets the requirement for the development of ecological civilization. We will take initiative to choose the production mode and life style with low consumption and pollution but high efficiency and control economic development activities within the carrying capacity of the environment. The nature of green economy, low carbon economy and circular economy is ecological economy, which is the ecologicalization process and representation of economic activities. We will develop green economy and industries; develop clean energy and renewable energy, raise resource efficiency and minimize pollution emissions. We will carry out trial work on low carbon economy and gradually lower the intensity of carbon emissions. According to the "Reduce, Recycle and Reuse" principle, we will develop and extend state-of-the-art technologies that save, substitute, recycle and minimize pollution and facilitate the development of circular economy.

  Second, accelerate the development of system and mechanism for sustainable development. Systems and mechanism are fundamental with such characteristics as the big picture, stability, long term and effectiveness. We will improve and carry out compensated system for utilization of resources, eco-environment compensation mechanism and strict target responsibility system for environmental protection. We will deepen pricing reform; accelerate the development of pricing mechanism for production elements and resources that reflects market supply-demand relations, resource scarcity and environmental damage cost; facilitate the reform of the price of resource products and environmental charge and continuous improve green environment economic policies. We will improve our capacity in planning, coordinating, optimizing and promoting sustainable development and develop a scientific decision making mechanism and management mechanism.

  Third, do well the emission reduction of major pollutants with unswerving effort. Energy saving and emission reduction is the focus for environmental protection work. The construction of urban environmental infrastructure and corporate pollution control facilities across China have accelerated thanks to the strong promotion since the beginning of the "11th Five-Year Plan" period. With big increase of technical guarantee capacity in pollution control, we must take "ensuring operation" as the central task of current emission reduction activities and make a desperate effort to ensure normal operation of pollution control facilities of enterprises. Targeting thermal power industry, we will vigorously reduce emission amount of air pollutants. We will also taking paper making industry as the key industry and cut the discharged amount of water pollutants. In addition, we will enhance the target responsibility system for emission reduction and strictly implement each sanction and accountability measure.

  Fourth, strive to solve prominent environmental problems posing threat to public health. Environmental problems are major issues that concern public health, wellbeing and their livelihood. Along with socio-economic development and the improvement of people’s living standard, people are showing increasing interest in environmental problems, calling for better environmental quality and harboring many new hopes. We will protect the environment for the good of the public, solve major environmental issues and ensure public access to clean drinking water, clean air and safe food. This represents the concrete task of ecological civilization as well as a catalyst for the development of ecological civilization. We should focus on control of heavy metal pollution as our priority, ensure drinking water safety and improve level-to-level management of drinking water protection zones and emergency supervision and management system for drinking water sources. We will take comprehensive measures to actively prevent other environmental problems affecting public health.

  Fifth, rehabilitate rivers, lakes and other important ecosystems to revive their vitality. We need to show human care to rivers and lakes by identifying the mode and size of development based on their environmental and ecological carrying capacity. Law of nature should be respected to give full play to ecosystem’s self-rehabilitating capacity so as to gradually change ecological degradation. We will employ engineering, technical and ecological steps to enhance protection and development of eco-environment and boost the benign circulation of ecosystem. Legal, economic, technical and necessary administrative measures will be fully used to solve long-standing problems of water environment from both the surface and the root. While rehabilitating rivers and lakes, we will embark on policies and measures to restore such major ecosystems as wetlands and grassland.

  Sixth, promote ecological civilization across the society. Actions are guided by thought. Only entrenched ideas may lead to decisive actions and successive achievements. We will widely promote ecological civilization by minding details and improving means of publicity. Gentle yet refreshing, the concept will take root in each organization, school and family and finally be translated into voluntary actions of every citizen for conservation of resources and energy and protection of ecological environment.

  Development of ecological civilization is the soul and orientation of environmental protection cause in the new era whereas environmental protection serves as the forefront and essential instrument for development of ecological civilization. Advancing ecological civilization and promoting harmony between man and nature is an important task for environmental protection as entrusted by socio-economic development. We will hold high the great banner of ecological civilization, strive to be the proponent, leader and practitioner of ecological civilization, with a view to examining and solving key environmental issues at a higher level and in a broader sense and actively exploring a new path to environmental protection with Chinese characteristics. The course of exploration is also a deepening process for the development of ecological civilization. The more proactive we are, the more effective the result will be.

  Explorations of a new path of environmental protection call for boldness in innovation and changes. It’s a process of constant breakthrough and advance with burgeoning experiences and achievements. Looking from present and into the future, the freshness of this new path is characterized in the following five aspects. First, a set of strategic thoughts, tasks and principles have become brand new guidance for environmental protection since the turn of this new century, which include Scientific Outlook on Development, development of ecological civilization, historical transformation of environmental protection and rehabilitation of rivers and lakes. Second, over the past three decades, we have tried not to repeat the same mistake of developed countries where pollution was controlled after the environment had been sacrificed for the sake of economic development. However, the relentless fact before us now is that we have paid excessive environmental price for fast economic development. This situation requires us to search for a new path to effectively ease the tension between economic development and environment. Third, thanks to years of hard work by all parties, remarkable achievements have been made in environmental protection with overall improvement of environmental quality across the country and worsening trend of pollution locked in a face-off. Inching toward its objective with heavy responsibilities, environmental protection is like sailing against the current— you must forge ahead or you will be driven back. The new stage of environmental protection certainly calls for new effort of exploration. Fourth, since the 11th Five-Year Plan period, we have stuck to the general thought that environmental protection should be pushed ahead on all sides with breakthrough made in key areas. The pillars of environment protection work include the priority of pollution control, the primary task of ensuring drinking water safety, and the central task of reducing major pollutants, which all aim to solve outstanding environmental problems affecting people’s livelihood. Therefore, we must adapt to the new requirements of this general thought through continued explorations on hard issues to be addressed by the new path to environmental protection. Fifth, in recent years we have been adhering to the principle that environmental problems should be solved by working on macro strategic levels and environmental policies developed and improved considering the whole process of reproduction. We have introduced a string of measures including green credit, green taxes, green pricing, green trade, green securities, green insurance and reward-based promotion of pollution control. These policies have been gradually put in place and begun to take effect. The shift of environmental policies will continue to intensify. On the whole, we should face up to the upcoming changes, challenges and requirements and keep up with new explo-rations of the path to environmental protection.

  Starting from September 2008, the world economy has experienced the toughest challenge since the Depression of the last century. The Chinese Government made resolute decisions and kept on enriching and improving the stimulus package to address the crisis. Environmental protection and ecological development have been taken as the major areas of investment during the process of economic recovery. To follow the guidance of ecological civilization and undertake active explorations on the new path of environmental protection, we must make in-depth study on new challenges posed by the financial crisis on environmental protection and fully implement the new requirement on environmental work as a result of the strategy to boost domestic consumption. The following eight aspects will be strengthened. First, we will grasp the opportunity to foster new sources of economic growth and emerging industry and boost the development of green economy and green industry; second, we should withstand the pressure caused by unchecked development of heavy chemical industry in the short term and make unremitting effort to reduce major pollutants; third, we will give full play to the role of environmental impact assessment in macro regulation to facilitate the implementation of plans for adjustment and revitalization of top ten industries; fourth, speeding up urbanization to solve urban environmental problems; fifth, promoting social and economic sustainable development in rural areas and strengthen rural environmental protection in a coordinated manner; sixth, encouraging innovations in economic and social policies and constantly improving environmental eco-nomic policies; seventh, we should seize the rare opportunity brought about by independent innovation of technology through research and development of efficient and applicable green technologies; and eighth, advocating and guiding green consumption, and promote new consump-tion pattern.

  Dear Council Members and experts,

  Ecological civilization is the direction of human civilization, but its development is largely constrained by environmental problems. No country is immune to or able to address by itself the acute situation in-terwoven with energy, environment and development issues. All countries should take a long view to deal with environmental problems from a much broader perspective, enhance communications and promote cooperation on technical research and development that caters for the need of energy conservation, environmental protection and low-carbon energy sources, hence fostering production and consumption modes compatible with ecological civilization. Developed countries should acknowledge the fact that they have consumed a great deal of resources and discharged enormous pollution in history, take up responsibilities by providing more support to developing countries in policy-making on green economy, investment, technology transfer, personnel training, mechanisms and capacity building and helping the latter out of the trouble of pollution as soon as possible.

  As a high-level consulting agency, CCICED has made many policy recommendations on environment and development to the Chinese government, attracting high attention of ministries concerned. At the 2008 AGM, members and experts noted that China should prevent environmental protection from falling victim to international financial crisis and economic downturn, grasp the opportunity of industrial restructuring while reviving the economy and accelerating the transformation of economic development mode. Members also put forward other essential-suggestions, which included building up capacity in working towards sustainable development and a harmonious society, promoting environmental innovations, persistently strengthening environmental supervision and control of rural environment, guarding against environmental and health risks and promoting Beijing’s experience from hosting a green Olympic Games. We may find what the Chinese government has done over the past year is closely linked to many of the recommendations made by the Council. The major policies and steps are as follows: making energy conservation and emission reduction and strengthening of ecological protection a crucial constituent of China’s economic stimulus package; increasing environmental threshold for project approval and strictly curbing energy wasting, heavily polluting and resource guzzling industries, overcapacity and redundant projects; and boosting the development of green economy, low-carbon economy and circular economy by increasing investment in R & D of green energy technologies and environmental innovations. The central fund for rural environmental protection was added to 1 billion yuan to facilitate the policy of reward-based pollution control. Beijing’s successful experience in hosting a green Olympics will be extended and applied to a larger scale for preparing the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. I hope all experts will make full use of your knowledge, make innovation in research and provide proposals, contribute wisdom and strength to the development of China’s ecological civilization.

  The great scientist Albert Einstein once said: "The civilization of tomorrow begins with the dedication of today." The bright future of ecological civilization calls for unswerving effort. We should grasp the opportunity before us, keep forging ahead and actively explore a new path to environmental protection under the guidance of ecological civilization. We are ready to treat each other with an open mind and join hands with the international community to address environmental challenges, and make greater contributions to mankind for a better world.

Contact Us:


Address:5 Houyingfang Hutong,Xicheng District,Beijing 100035 P.R.Chinazip code:100035

Copyright © 2020 Secretariat of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. All Rights Reserved. Presented by China Daily.