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Sustainable mindset needed

2014-01-20 09:30 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

That Beijing presented its rules on air pollution control to its legislative body for approval on Saturday is a sign that the capital is throwing down the gauntlet to smog, the biggest blight and shame on this ancient and modern metropolis.  [Special coverage]

What has added to the significance of the event was the fact that participants in the sessions of Shanghai's legislative body and political advisory committee also focused their discussions on smog on the same day. And two days before, Beijing's neighboring Hebei province, which has seven of the 10 cities with most serious air pollution in the country, convened a press conference on its plans for air pollution control.

The increasingly in-your-face problem of air pollution across the country points to the heavy debt the nation's development has accumulated to the environment over the past more than three decades.

Beijing's rules on air pollution control specify that district and county leaders will be held accountable for toxic emissions and their pollution control efforts will be included in their appraisals.

This sends the message that leaders at all levels, who used to hold gross domestic product as the sole priority for economic growth, will have to change their mentality about development.

It will not be easy to address air pollution, which has grown increasingly severe, and it will be even more difficult for leaders, those at local levels in particular, to change their mentality about development.

But when it comes to sustainable development, a change in mentality is essential, how local leaders look at economic growth will have a decisive impact on whether the development of an area will be sustainable or not.

It is not only air pollution that is a threat to the health of residents, the lack of clean drinking water and soil contamination by heavy metals and chemicals also pose a threat. It would become an increasingly worse nightmare for people should the government fail to pay enough attention to the various kinds of pollution that are plaguing the country.

Smog is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pollution in this country. There is no time to lose if we are to attach enough importance to the environment and move on to a cleaner path of sustainable development.

Provincial Two Sessions 2014

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