China says it's 5 to 10 years away from peak pollution - and 15 to 20 years from cleaning it up

Shanghai, China. Photo: Getty Images

China has admitted it still has some way to go in turning around its pollution problems, with the China Daily reporting that authorities expect things will get worse over the next decade before they get better.

The environmental protection minister of the world’s second largest economy, Chen Jining, told an environment and development meeting – part of China’s 13th five-year plan – that rapid economic growth had come at a high price to the environment.

“The ability of the ecology and the environment to cope with some forms of pollution has reached or exceeded its limits,” Chen said.

The peak of emissions is still five to 10 years away, and Chen warned that the nation’s drive for prosperity may be limited by environmental concerns.

“It will take 15 to 20 years to reduce emissions enough to bring about a fundamental change for the better,” he said.

Chen’s comments are telling in the state-run English language publication, regarded as a government mouthpiece, showing that China authorities are conscious of the nation’s pollution problems and attempting to come to terms with them as the economy expands.

“China faces more complex pollution issues than those encountered by developed countries in the past, with multiple pollution sources in different regions and industries,” Chen said.

Read the rest of his comments here.

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