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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 07:26 GMT
China fails environment targets

Air pollution from a factory in north-eastern China
Many factories are ignoring environmental laws
China is failing to meet new targets on energy efficiency and pollution emissions, officials said.

China set the targets in a bid to rein in the environmental costs of the country's rapid economic growth.

But only Beijing and five other provinces or municipalities improved efficiency by 4% and cut emissions by 2% in the first six months of 2006.

"Nationwide, it is certain that last year's [targets] could not be achieved," official Han Wenke said.

Chinese officials did not say how much the targets had been missed by.

The new targets are part of the 2006-10 Five Year Plan, and call for energy consumption per unit of GDP to be cut by 20%, while pollution emissions should fall 10%.

While figures for the second half of the year are not available, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Minister Ma Kai said in December "it is extremely hard to achieve this year's goal", according to the official China Daily.

He cited problems with China's industrial structure and a lack of supportive policies.

The BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, says much of China's airborne pollution comes from large coal-burning power stations and car exhaust fumes, neither of which can be reduced quickly.

Many factories also ignore the law and pump toxic waste into rivers and lakes.

And with the country still focused on breakneck economic growth, there is little sign that things are going to get better any time soon, our correspondent says.

Another senior officials said the situation was worse than ever.

"2006 has been the most grim year for China's environmental situation," vice-minister Pan Yue was quoted as saying on the Web site of the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa).

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