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Polluters to pay price 'too high to bear': Premier Li

POLLUTERS will pay a price "too high to bear" for their illegal acts, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned today.

All businesses involved in illegal production and emission, no matter what kind of business they are, will be brought to justice and held accountable, Li told a press conference after the annual national legislative session concluded.

He made the remarks in response to a question on whether two Chinese oil giants, Sinopec and PetroChina, have obstructed the implementation of environment policies in the country.

"We need to make the cost for doing so too high to bear," the premier said.

This year the Chinese government will focus on fully implementing the newly-revised Environmental Protection Law, he said.

More supports will be given to environmental law enforcement departments including capacity building, he said.

"No one should use his power to meddle with law enforcement in this regard," he said.

However, the premier stressed that the law enforcement departments should also have the courage to take charge and fulfill their duty while nonfeasance will be held accountable and abuse of power and breach of duty will be punished.

The law must work as a powerful, effective tool to control pollution instead of being "as soft as cotton candy," he said.

Although the government has made tremendous efforts in tackling pollution, the premier said, the progress still falls short of people's expectation.

Unlike previous years, the targets for energy conservation and emission reduction are placed in a more prominent position in this year's government work report.

Chinese government plans to reduce the energy intensity, or units of energy per unit of GDP, by 3.1 percent in 2015.

It will also cut the intensity of carbon dioxide by at least 3.1 percent, reduce both chemical oxygen demand and ammonia nitrogen emissions by around 2 percent, and reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by around 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

The policies to improve economic structure and fuel quality will also contribute to pollution control, the premier said.

In Li's government work report, China will upgrade coal-burning power plants to achieve ultra-low emissions and strive for zero-growth in the consumption of coal in heavily-polluted areas.

The country will promote the use of new-energy vehicles, reduce vehicle exhaust emissions, raise the national fuel quality standard, and provide motor gasoline and diesel fuel of higher quality. All highly polluted vehicles registered before 2005 will be banned from the road.

"This is a joint effort of the whole society," the premier said. "It may be difficult for one to change natural environment he lives in anytime soon but one can always change the way he behaves."


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