Eight of 20 environmental goals set under the 2000-2005 5-year plan were not met, according to SEPA. (China Daily 4/13) Most notable was a 27% increase in sulfur dioxide emissions, which were slated to be reduced 10% from 2000 levels. The increase has been ascribed to a hot economy which led to much higher energy, especially coal consumption.
There has also been a recent flap in the Chinese media about comments ascribed to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson that China is responsible for some mercury deposition in the US because of air emissions that travel across the Pacific. Johnson met with SEPA head Zhou Shengxian on April 10 in Beijing. The EPA Administrator made a special point of pointing out that he had been quoted out of context and that the US alone emits about 48 tons of mercuy into the air. (China Daily 4/14)
In itself, the assertion seems unremarkable and reasonable – that China’s significant air emissions might contribute to pollution in the US. And even if the US itself contributes to such emissions, that just means that air pollution is as much a national as well as a transboundary issue. (And there is little question that the US is a major environmental polluter.) But I suppose the more sensitive relations between the US and China require more care in how issues about fault and responsibility are framed. It’ll be interesting to see what concrete progress will be made with bilateral cooperation betweeen the US and China.