CGTN conducted a written interview with Jin Guowei, the vice governor of Liaoning Province, where he shared Liaoning's practical experience in promoting green and low-carbon transition and in taking new steps toward green development.
CGTN: During his inspection tour in Liaoning Province in August 2022, President Xi Jinping emphasized that it's important to apply the concept of green development to ecological conservation, environmental improvement, production and manufacturing, the development of cities, the people's lives, and many other aspects, to accelerate the building of a beautiful China. How do you understand President Xi's vision of green development?
Jin Guowei: Green development aims for economic growth and social development that is efficient, harmonious and sustainable. It's a concept pivotal to China's overall development, and an inevitable choice to navigate resource and environmental constraints, change the pattern of development, and eventually achieve sustainable and high-quality development.
President Xi has always paid great attention to the revitalization and development of Liaoning. He has made several visits to northeast China including Liaoning Province for inspection and research, making important speeches and giving important instructions while offering a clear roadmap for Liaoning to achieve new breakthroughs in revitalization and development.
Last August, during his inspection tour in Liaoning, Xi Jinping once again emphasized that good environment is valuable assets for economic growth and social development in northeast China, and it is also what the region can take advantage of in its revitalization drive. It is important to apply the concept of green development to ecological conservation, environmental improvement, production and manufacturing, the development of cities, the people's lives, and many other aspects, to accelerate the building of a beautiful China.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC Liaoning Provincial Committee and the Liaoning Provincial Government have consistently upheld the concept that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets."
We have taken a coordinated approach to industrial restructuring, pollution control, eco-environmental conservation. We have endeavored to cut carbon emissions, reduce pollution, expand green development, and pursue economic growth. We have prioritized eco-environmental protection, conserved resources and used them efficiently for green and low-carbon development.
New progress has been made in ecological preservation and environmental protection. The sky in Liaoning is bluer, the mountains greener, the waters clearer, and the environment more beautiful and livable, with green being the most distinctive, profound, and solid defining feature for high-quality development.
Transformation brings vitality, while green development adds growth momentum. Liaoning has fully, accurately and comprehensively implemented the new development philosophy, remaining steadfast in its commitment to green, low-carbon, and high-quality development. By shifting mindsets, adjusting structures, and controlling pollution, Liaoning promotes a green and low-carbon transformation in its pattern of production. As a result, Liaoning has taken new steps and achieved new results in green development.
Accelerating the green transformation of the development pattern. Liaoning consistently champions innovation as the primary driving force of development, emphasizing the role of intelligent technology in empowering production. We are earnestly advancing green manufacturing by establishing eco-friendly factories, supply chains and industrial parks. This green development strategy serves as the cornerstone for pivotal structural adjustments.
For "heritage companies,"there's a focus on upgrading and revitalizing them. We are pushing for the intelligent upgrade of time-honored companies, reorienting them to provide services to cater to the needs, modernizing their outdated equipment, and promoting the green transformation of old mining sites and old urban areas.
Furthermore, there's a concerted effort to rejuvenate classic brands. On the other hand, we are delving deep to unleash the potential of the resource sector. Liaoning Province is keen on extending the petrochemical industry chain, strengthening the metallurgical industry chain, fixing the weak links in the magnesite industry chain, and increasing the depth of the agricultural product processing industry chain.
We are also cultivating and strengthening emerging industries. Liaoning takes a forward-looking approach in industries such as advanced equipment, electronic information and new materials, proactively positioning itself in emerging industries like Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Flexible Electronics.
Adjusting and upgrading the energy structure. In Liaoning, with a focus on key renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power and pumped storage hydropower, there's been a massive push to strengthen energy infrastructure construction, thereby fostering a complementary balance between renewable energy and traditional energy.
It is estimated that the installed capacity of wind and solar power in Liaoning will increase from 14 million kW to more than 37 million kW by 2025, with non-fossil fuel installed capacity accounting for 55 percent, and non-fossil energy power generation accounting for 47.3 percent.
Stepping up efforts in environmental pollution prevention and control. Full attention is being given to addressing issues identified by the central government's environmental protection inspectors. Our province continues to make efforts to defend the blue sky, clear waters and clean soil, striving for bluer sky, clearer waters and greener land in Liaoning.
Efforts have been accelerated to implement major projects for the conservation and restoration of crucial ecosystems. Solid progress is being made in the construction of green mines, the management of sandy land, the restoration of marine ecosystems, and the construction of the Liao River Estuary Park, and other systematic projects.
CGTN: "A good environment is part of the public's wellbeing; green mountains and blue skies bring delight and happiness to the people." How have the concepts put forward by President Xi Jinping taken root, blossomed and borne fruit in Liaoning? In the battle to defend blue sky, clear waters and clean soil, and regarding the combined measures of environmental protection and restoration, what experiences and stories can you share?
Jin Guowei: Today, Liaoning has blue sky, green mountains and clear waters, which constitute a beautiful environment. This not only reflects the positive outcomes of Liaoning's green development but also represents a microcosm of the achievements in building a beautiful China. People in Liaoning are taking substantive actions to preserve the beauty of clear waters and green mountains, enhance the value of our "gold and silver mountains," and jointly build and share a beautiful Liaoning.
We adhere to the principle of precise and scientific pollution control in accordance with the law, using a combination of administrative, market-based and law-based measures to defend blue sky, clear waters and clean soil. As a result, the ecological environment in Liaoning keeps improving.
Making ceaseless efforts to defend the blue sky. Liaoning has identified 20 areas with severe air pollution, and has been working on regional joint prevention and control measures to eliminate severe pollution. During the critical periods in spring, we have ensured good air quality by collaborating with Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces to address the pollution from straw burning. A cooperative mechanism for air pollution control has been established between the Shenyang metropolitan area and four cities in western Liaoning, providing daily air quality forecasts and coordinating targeted prevention and control efforts during critical periods.
We actively promote climate investment and financing, and set up pilots of low-carbon initiatives. By establishing a climate investment and financing project pool and collaborating with financial institutions, we utilize carbon reduction support tools and clean coal re-loans to provide 1.56 billion Chinese yuan in funding for clean energy and ecological restoration projects. Moreover, we have helped our steel companies to complete 420 ultra-low emission transformation projects.
In 2022, Liaoning Province had 329 days of good air quality, roughly 90 percent of the time in a year, up 2.1 percentage points from the previous year. The annual average concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was 31 micrograms per cubic meter, a year-on-year improvement of 11.4 percent. The concentration of all six pollutants in the ambient air met the second Air Quality Index level by national standards.
Taking further steps to protect clear waters. We've focused on sections of rivers that do not meet or barely meet standard. By enforcing strict control and supervision over the three main sources of pollution, namely industrial, urban and agricultural, we have brought wastewater discharge points along rivers and seas under check and hence improved the water quality to the national standard. Centralized wastewater treatment facilities have been constructed for basically all the industrial clusters. In 2022, the water quality in the Liao River basin reached a good level, recording the best result since environmental monitoring data became available.
Increasing efforts to safeguard clean soil. We have prioritized the risk control of soil pollution. The safe utilization rate of polluted arable land has steadily increased, reaching 100 percent for key construction land in 2022. We have strengthened pollution source control, completing inspections and supervised rectifications of 88 companies with cadmium and other heavy metals involved in their business operation, and launched eight major projects for soil pollution source control.
We have stepped up risk control and remediation of polluted construction land parcels, completing risk control and remediation of 26 land parcels in total. We are systematically advancing the "waste-free city" program in Shenyang, Dalian, and Panjin. We have built and put into operation 23 municipal waste incineration power plants, and groundwater conditions in provincial-level chemical parks have been surveyed and assessed.
In 2022, the rural living environment of the entire province continued to improve, with a total of 3,486 beautiful demonstration villages and beautiful livable villages being established.
Making sustained efforts to address desertification. Successive key national and provincial ecological projects have been launched, with a focus on desertification prevention and control. These include the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program, the Central Financial Afforestation Subsidy Project, the Liaoning Northwestern Boundary Shelter Forest Project, the Liaoning Northwestern Desertified Grassland Restoration Project, and the Three-Year Initiative for Windbreak, Sand Control and Soil Fixation in Northwest Liaoning.
In Zhangwu County, where desertification is severe, we initiated the Million-acre Zhangwu Grassland Restoration Project. Thanks to relentless efforts, our province has achieved notable successes in controlling and reversing desertification.
Compared to 2004, the area of desertified lands in the province has decreased by 0.248 million acres, down by 18 percent. The area of sandy lands has shrunk by 0.474 million acres, down by 28 percent. The ecological environment in the desertified and sandy areas has improved significantly, and the conditions for production and living are getting better.
Promoting eco-friendly mining practices. Liaoning is a province rich in mineral resources with a long history of mining. While it has made significant contributions to both national and local economic development, the resulting geological and environmental issues from mining cannot be ignored.
Liaoning is making steadfast efforts in developing eco-friendly and intelligent mines, strengthening the protection and restoration of the geological environment around mines, addressing tailings management, and ramping up efforts on the remediation and restoration of abandoned mines.
The number of eco-friendly mines in the province has increased from 25 in early 2019 to 204 at present. In total, around 15,975.9 acres of flawed mining areas and 11,858.4 acres of operational mining areas have been revamped.