"China has dramatically boosted its pollution prevention capacity, and is set to meet the emission reductions of sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand between 2005 and 2010," Zhou was quoted as saying on Friday by People’s Daily at an international forum on environment and development.
Sulfur dioxide is a major indicator of air pollution and carbon oxygen demand is a measurement used to determine the level of water pollution.
By the end of last year, the emission levels of sulfur dioxide had fallen 9.6 percent from 2005 levels, while chemical oxygen demand had fallen 13.1 percent during the same period.
That puts China on target to hit its goal of reducing both by 10 percent from 2005 levels by the end of 2010.
In the first half of this year, carbon oxygen demand dropped 2.3 percent year-on-year, but sulfur dioxide levels increased 0.22 percent, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
New goals for nitrogen oxides, which cause acid rain and haze, and ammonia nitrogen, which leads to excessive food sources for bacteria in water bodies, will be included in the pollution control program for next five years, said Zhou.
But detailed reduction targets are yet to be worked out, experts familiar with the matter told China Daily on Friday.
Coal-fired power plants are major sources for nitrogen oxides, which contribute 45.5 percent to total emissions, according to Yang Jintian, deputy chief engineer of the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning.
Official figures from the Ministry of Environmental Protection show that the country’s total emissions of nitrogen oxide reached 20 million tons in 2008, the largest in the world.
Nitrogen oxides, when mixed with other air pollutants, can cause chemical reactions that form haze and smog.
"It is impossible to cure haze and acid rain problems in big cities without addressing pollution of nitrogen oxide," said Yang.
The accumulation of ammonia nitrogen in rivers and lakes can lead to excessive nutrition levels in water bodies – which cause the overgrowth of blue and green algae.
"Under certain conditions, ammonia nitrogen can also convert into toxic compounds, which pose threats to drinking water safety," said Fu Qing, an associate professor with Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.
The pollutant is discharged from chemical plants, agricultural chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides, as well as domestic sewage in urban areas, said Fu.
China discharged 1.23 million tons of ammonia nitrogen in 2009, with 78 percent being from domestic sewage, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
The country will seek to bolster its rapid economic growth with a minimum of environmental degradation and strike a balance between development and conservation, Zhou told the forum held in Beijing.
He said China needs to improve its green economic policies to facilitate the shift to a "highly effective and low-emission" growth mode.
Between 2006 and 2010, more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) was put into research and development of technologies related to energy conservation and environmental protection, according to Ministry of Science and Technology.
China a world leader in wind energy
China is a leader in the development of non-traditional electrical power, with its world-leading expansion of alternative power generation, says the head of the country’s energy company at the World Energy Congress 2010 on Wednesday.
Liu Zhenya, chairman and chief executive officer of State Grid Corp of China, the nation’s largest grid operator, said water and wind power projects are growing at a fast rate. Since 2000, electrical generation from wind farm grew exponentially, by 21 times, while solar power electricity production rose by 47 times.
"It is estimated that by 2020, the total installed capacity of hydropower will reach 300 gigawatts with 75 percent from large hydro bases,"Liu told the delegates in a keynote speech.
He said wind farms will use wind turbines to produce 90.17 gigawatts, accounting for 78 percent of China’ s wind power.
He noted that China’s investments in alternative energy will mitigate the country’s greenhouse gas production. "The replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy will reduce carbon emissions by 1.6 billion pounds a year."
Liu said China plans construction of seven 10-gigawatt wind farms in Jiuquan, Gansu province, and at Hami, in the Xinjiang autonomous region.
Still, he said, China will rely on fossil fuels. In 2020 China will get 58.5 percent of its energy from coal, 26.5 percent from oil and natural gas, 9 percent from hydropower, 4 percent from nuclear reactors and 2 percent from alternative energy, such as solar energy and wind turbines.
China is investing more in hydro-electric power production. State Grid Corp wants to build 13 hydro power projects along the Jinsha and Daduhe rivers, Liu said.
The five-day conference has attracted 5,000 energy executives, government officials and academic experts to this eastern Canadian city to discuss the world’s future energy consumption and production.
China’s spending on green tech exceeds 10b yuan
The Chinese government’s investment in research and development of green technologies has exceeded 10 billion yuan ($1.47 billion) for the 2006-2010 period.
Zhang Laiwu, vice minister of science and technology, made the remark Thursday at a press conference in Beijing, also saying that China had developed key technologies that could cut greenhouse emissions.
China has applied energy-saving technologies to traditional industries including steel, power, building materials, chemicals and agriculture, which have enhanced their competitiveness, he said.
China has also issued supportive policies for new-energy industries. For instance, the pilot program of energy-saving and new-energy vehicles has been implemented in 25 cities, and the government has provided subsidies for the purchase of 5,000 vehicles, he said.
Also, more than 1.6 million LED lights were being used in 21 cities in a pilot program to promote the use of LED lights, which will save more than 164 million kWh of electricity annually, he said.