China may not have a sterling environmental record in the recent past, but officials believe that they are doing a hell of a lot more to improve it than other nation ever has.
According to China’s environmental minister Chen Jining, China is now taking the initiative to clean up the mess it has made, a turning point that it reached much faster than the West, so its solutions will “come earlier, be better and greener,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
To back up his case, Chen presented data for levels of sulfur dioxide, which had dropped by 50% between 2012 to 2014 after peaking in 2007. He also cited falling levels of PM2.5 in the air, though that claim seems a bit more murky.
According to CNTV, China is using its slowing economy as a motivator to work on the environment by focusing on creating new environmentally-friendly jobs and industries.
“Under the pressure of slowing economy, we should make use of environmental protection to improve industrial competition. Eliminating outmoded industries can be an opportunity for more competitive ones. We cannot pursue development through low-price competition at a high environmental cost anymore,” Chen said.
For that purpose, Chen wants more power to enforce pollutant laws and more freedom to go after polluters, both large and small. “The key is to resolve the problem we face by taking action,” he said, adding that China could soon become a model for the West when it comes to healing the environment.
By Emily Lam