首页 >> 推荐阅读 >> 正文

译:A paper victory

来源: 时间:2010/10/15 10:59:00 点击:

In early February, the results of a national pollution survey released by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) showed that the country’s pollution problems were much worse than previously estimated. The international media appeared to accept the ministry’s explanation for the discrepancy in its figures – agricultural sources of pollution had not previously been included. But such reports overlooked a more crucial factor: over the last two years the MEP has made no real headway in tackling pollution. It has merely made some feints and declared a paper victory.

On November 2 last year, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the minister for environmental protection, Zhou Shengxian, had claimed that China had “stopped water pollution worsening” and seen slight improvements in all areas over the previous year, during a speech at the 13th World Lake Conference, held in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

This conclusion does not match the facts. On November 11, the People’s Daily reported that, in spite of a six year investment programme, which saw 91 billion yuan (US$13.3 billion) spent on efforts to improve China’s three most polluted rivers and lakes, water quality remains poor. As the development of the Yangtze Delta has charged ahead, for example, the standard of water in Lake Taihu, eastern China, has fallen by three grades – from grade two in the 1980s to grade five or worse now. The many textile-dying, chemical- and food-processing plants around the lake have caused a major accumulation of pollutants. Lake Chao, in eastern China, and Lake Dian, in the south-west, have both shrunk and become more polluted as a result of aquaculture, reclamation of land for agriculture and the building of factories.

The MEP is also aware that, over the past year, there have been 12 incidents of heavy metal and metalloid pollution in Fengxiang in central China, Wugang in south China and Dongchuan, a district of the south-western city of Kunming. These cases left 4,035 people with excessive levels of lead in their blood and 182 with excessive levels of cadmium and gave rise to 32 “mass incidents”, or public protests.

The MEP’s national pollution survey itself undermines the department’s official statements. And even without that data, the Chinese public can see, smell and taste that water quality is still falling and that the environment as a whole is worsening. So why does the ministry insist that water quality is improving? Vice-minister of environmental protection, Zhang Lijun, explains that levels of sulphur dioxide and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) – a measure that helps determine the amount of organic pollutants in surface water – both fell in 2008 and 2009. This is the basis for the MEP’s claim.

But there are many different indicators of water quality. Measuring just two of these is clearly inadequate and can lead to the wrong conclusions being drawn – as the MEP has shown. It is as if the ministry is a doctor who has declared a patient suffering from a brain tumour healthy on grounds of normal blood pressure.

As the highest of China’s environmental protection agencies, the MEP must be aware that it is impossible to get a full picture of water quality by measuring just two factors. Nor can it be ignorant of the reality of China’s deteriorating rivers and lakes – given the national pollution survey has been underway for two years, the ministry must be familiar with the actual situation. But three months before the survey results were released, it was still saying that China had “stopped water pollution worsening”.

Why would the MEP do this? A quick look at its record over the past two years provides an answer: it was in dire need of an achievement.

Two years ago, the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) was upgraded to ministry status and its powers expanded. But the department’s actions since then have been disappointing. As a mere agency, SEPA may have been weak, but it still managed to cause a stir. It launched crackdown after crackdown – known as “environmental storms” – against companies that broke regulations, including the largest of hydropower firms. It enforced regional planning restrictions, refusing to approve projects for law-breaking local governments until changes were made. It called a halt to illegal works at Beijing’s Old Summer Palace and held an unprecedented public hearing, which became a model for public participation and democratic decision-making.

New legal documents, the “Temporary Measures for Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessments” and “Regulations on Publication of Environmental Information”, were drafted to ensure the public’s right to environmental information and participation. Research on environmental planning law was conducted and the concept of Green GDP explored as a way of tackling China’s worship of unbridled growth – which lies at the heart of China’s environmental deterioration.

All of these were significant victories, achieved by a weak government agency fighting real battles against powerful interest groups and building systems for better long-term governance. In 2007, I wrote that SEPA was little more than an unarmed weakling, yet it had already fought long and hard for the environment. Its bravery was recognised – but its weakness was also clear. It was not an independent ministry under the State Council, China’s highest organ of government, and it struggled to participate in policymaking and to coordinate with other departments. It lacked executive powers and capacity. So I and many others said: “If we expect this organisation to deal with the huge issues it faces, we must change the systems and legislation that surround it, and grant them increased power.”

Two years ago, the agency finally became a ministry and won greater powers. It was no longer a dwarf, but a full-grown man. But, disappointingly, it has achieved little of note since then. New regulations on public participation in environmental impact assessments and the publication of environmental information have been implemented, but this work started before ministry status was awarded and work was only needed on the final stages. And new laws governing environmental evaluations have so far failed to resolve any issues of public concern over major construction projects.

Moreover, the “environmental storms” have stopped blowing, with the exception of last year’s decision to halt two illegal hydropower projects on the Jinsha River, south-west China. Even then, the MEP only rushed to put a stop to them after State Council leaders started to take a look at the issue of illegal projects in the area. Prior to that, the ministry had quietly approved a different dam. True, sulphur dioxide and COD levels have fallen somewhat. But how much was this the result of reduced industrial production during the economic crisis? Moreover, “green GDP” was left by the wayside, after repeated cries of “not ready yet”.

After all this, the MEP needed a success to show to its superiors and the nation. So “worsening water pollution” was – on paper – stopped. To be fair, the national pollution survey is a big step forward. It has provided relatively accurate data and proved that the ministry’s own “achievements” are not all they may seem.

A few days ago an American reporter asked me whether or not China was really committed to environmentally friendly development. Like her, many foreigners are confused. The idea of building an “ecological civilisation” was included in the report of the 17th Party Congress and China’s leaders are calling for the development of a low-carbon economy and emissions-reduction measures to combat climate change. These are all solemn undertakings. But environmental damage continues to worsen, and not only do the environmental authorities do nothing – they claim false victories.

This does not look like environmentally friendly development. I could not answer the reporter’s question, just like I cannot explain the ministry’s failings over the last two years. If I had to reply, I could only say that I believe that China’s leaders have made the decision to go down a green path, but local government and environmental authorities have not yet taken this seriously.

(译文如有出入请联系本会,来源于chinadialogue)

译  文:

中国环保的“胜利”被戳穿

  二月初,中国环保部公布的一项全国污染源普查显示,中国的污染比以前的估计要严重很多。原因何在?报道此事的国际媒体认同了中国环保部的结论:中国以前没有将农业污染统计在内。但这些媒体忽略了更关键的原因:那就是,这两年多来,环保部并没有向污染发起像样的冲锋,大多虚晃一枪,便在纸面上宣布了胜利。

  比如新华社在去年11月2日报道,在武汉举行的第十三届世界湖泊大会上,环境保护部部长周生贤表示,中国遏制了水污染加剧趋势,去年各领域水质状况均略有改善。

  这个结论与实情不符。2009年11月11日《人民日报》报道:中国政府在6年内投入了910亿治理污染最严重的“三江三湖”,但水质仍然较差。比如,随着长三角区域经济的繁荣,太湖水质“连降三级”:从上世纪80年代的Ⅱ类水为主下降至Ⅴ类、劣Ⅴ类。遍布太湖周边有上万家纺织印染、化工制造、食品加工企业,令污染物急剧积累。巢湖、滇池也在当地政府和居民围网养鱼、围湖造田、建厂兴业的大发展之后,湖面萎缩,水质恶化。

  环保部也了解以下情况:一年来, 陕西凤翔、湖南武冈、云南东川发生12起重金属、类金属污染事件。这些事件致使4035人血铅超标、182人镉超标,引发32起群体性事件。

  环保部2月公布的这个普查结果,也证明其负责人的话是不负责任的。其实不必看这些数据,中国老百姓眼里看到的、鼻里闻到的、口里尝到的,都证明中国的水质仍在下降、整体环境仍在恶化,为什么环保部却硬说“水质状况都有改善”?张力军副部长的解释是,2008、2009年,中国的二氧化硫和化学需氧量这两项指标下降了。环保部以前“水质都有改善”的结论,是依据这两项指标做出的。

  衡量水质有许多指标,只用这两项显然不够,而且可能得出相反的结论(正如环保部得出的错误结论)。这如同一个人得了脑瘤,去看医生,医生只查了查血压,正常,于是宣布他非常健康。环保部就是这位医生。

  作为环境保护的最高管理机构,环保部不可能不知道仅两项指标不能说明水质状况。环保部也不可能不知水质恶化的真实情况——比如这个污染源普查已进行了两年,环保部应该知道事实真相,可在宣布结果的3个月前,环保部负责人还在说中国“遏制了水污染加剧趋势”。

  环保部为什么这么做?看看环保部这两年的作为就知道,环保部太需要一个“成就”了。

  两年前,环保总局升格为环保部,权力扩大,其作为却令人失望。想想仍是环保总局的时候,尽管是弱势部门,却做出多少让人振奋的大事:掀起一次次环保风暴,打击违法大公司,包括最大的水电集团;实施区域限批,对违法的地方政府,在整改之前不批准新项目;叫停圆明园违法工程,并召开史无前例的公开听证会,使之成为公众参与、民主决策的典型;出台《环境影响评价公众参与暂行办法》,制订《环保信息公开条例》,有助于保证公民的环境知情权与参与权;研究规划环评法规,积极研究绿色GDP,希望解决中国GDP崇拜问题——而单纯的GDP崇拜正是中国环境恶化的根本原因。

  以上种种,或与破坏环境的大利益集团真刀真枪地干,到以求长治久安的制度建设,无不是这个弱势部门顶着巨大的压力做出来的大成绩。因此,我2007年在中外对话发表《勇敢的小矮人》一文说:环保总局作为几乎手无寸铁的弱者,已为环境保护做了许多拼杀。人们承认环保总局“勇敢”,同时也看到了它的虚弱。它不是国务院独立部委,难以参与政策制定,难以协调其他部委机构,行政权力与能力不足。因此,很多人像我在文中一样呼吁:“若要这个勇气可嘉的小矮人扛起环境保护这座大山,只有在制度和法律上,给予它更大的力量。”

  两年前,环保总局终于升为环保部,获得了更大的权力,从“小矮人”变成了“大个子”。但让人失望的是,两年来,其所作所为乏善可陈:

  《环保信息公开条例》和《规划环境影响评价条例》出台了,但这是在环保部升格之前就开始的工作,现在只是收个尾;

  而且,《规划环评条例》出台后,尚没有用来解决公众关注的一些大项目;

  “环保风暴”再也不刮了,唯一的例外是去年叫停了金沙江中游两个违法电站。但环保部在此之前已悄悄批准了另外一个电站,因为国务院领导对金沙江中游电站违法建设这一严峻形势的重视,环保部才急急忙忙叫停两个电站;

  二氧化硫和化学需氧量这两项指标有所下降,但是否考虑了经济危机中工业生产下降的因素?

  一直强调“不成熟”、“不成熟”,所以绿色GDP也不搞了。

  这样屈指一算,环保部也许太需要一个“成就”来向上级、向国人交待了。于是,“水污染加剧趋势”就在纸面上被“遏制住”了。当然,公允地说,这次污染源普查是环保部做的一件大好事,提供了较真实的信息,同时也证明环保部自己所说的“成就”不是那么货真价实。

  前几天有位美国记者问我:“中国到底有没有下决心走绿色发展道路?”很多外国人跟她一样被搞糊涂了,因为中国将“生态文明”写入中共十七大报 告,中国领导人号召发展低碳经济,大力减排以应对气候变化,这都是严肃的承诺;但中国的环境破坏却越来越严重,甚至环保主管部门不但无所建树,而且虚夸政 绩, 这看起来又不像是真要走绿色道路。我无法回答她的问题,正像我无法解释为什么环保部这两年的作为与以前大不相同。如果一定要回答,我只能说,我相信中国领 导人是下定了走绿色发展道路的决心,只是地方政府和环保部,还没有把这“决心”当回事。

                                   

浙江正泰公益基金会 浙ICP备11034570号 2000-2011 THE COMMONWEAL FOUNDATION OF CHINA
浙江省杭州市滨江区月明路560号正泰大厦2号楼6F 热线电话:0571—89710110 89710106 邮编310014 电子邮箱:dtxd@ztgy.org