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. Regions Ignoring Beijing On Environment Goals

China's booming economy has come at a huge environmental cost, with up to 70 percent of its waterways polluted and air quality in its biggest cities among the world's worst.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 23, 2007
Local governments in China are continuing to invest in dirty, resource-intense industries, jeopardising Beijing's goals of saving energy and cutting pollution, state media reported Monday. Some regions are encouraging steel, cement and other heavy industries to boost economic growth despite demands from Beijing to rein in those sectors, the China Daily newspaper said, quoting a top development official.

"The central government is committed to achieving the (green) targets but some local governments have turned a blind eye to them," said He Bingguang, a deputy director with the National Development and Reform Commission.

He said the problem also could "indirectly hinder social harmony," in an apparent reference to rising social disquiet over China's worsening environmental degradation.

"The highest leadership has realised that if we fail in this endeavour, social harmony could be affected," He said.

China has set ambitious targets for curbing pollution and energy use per unit of GDP by 2010, but has already said it fell well off the pace last year, and He's comments underscore the difficulty in getting growth-minded regional authorities to toe Beijing's line.

The report did not specifically name any regions.

In another setback, the Beijing News said the introduction of a formula that would hold local officials responsible for environmental damage had been "indefinitely postponed."

The so-called "Green GDP" plan would deduct the cost of ecological harm from each region's economic growth data in a bid to encourage officials to better protect the environment.

Wang Jinnan, vice president of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, told the paper that China would continue to fine-tune the formula.

Top officials have previously said the plan was delayed by fierce resistance from local authorities.

A pilot Green GDP report said economic losses caused by environmental destruction in 2004 equalled 3.05 percent of the country's GDP.

China's booming economy has come at a huge environmental cost, with up to 70 percent of its waterways polluted and air quality in its biggest cities among the world's worst.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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The Sky Is Burning Over Ukraine
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jul 20, 2007
A toxic cloud of burning phosphorus gas released by a derailed train near Lviv (western Ukraine) is headed towards Belarus. Moving at a height of two or three kilometers from the ground, it does not pose any threat to aircraft traveling at much higher altitudes. In the meantime, the gas is being broken down by oxygen in the atmosphere, so hopefully we will soon be able to sigh with relief as if we have just seen a short horror movie.

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