China will step up legislation to reduce pollution, including drafting the country's first soil pollution law this year, to protect the environment and address food safety concerns.
Speaking ahead of the 13th National People's Congress, spokesperson Zhang Yahui said that the 13th NPC Standing Committee will continue to prioritise environment-related work in 2018.
It will continue to review a draft law on soil pollution, revise a law on solid waste pollution, and review the annual environment report and the progress made in meeting targets, said Zhang, according to a Xinhua report. It will also conduct inspections to review the implementation of air pollution and marine environment protection laws.
Soil pollution is usually caused by industrial activity, fertiliser and pesticide contamination. Food safety concerns have been raised over reports of crops grown on contaminated soil. China is targeting to make 90% of contaminated farmland safe for crops by the end of 2020, reported the Straits Times.
The previous 12th NPC Standing Committee had already put the environment and ecological conservation high on its agenda, with six pieces of legislation concerning environmental protection, air pollution, water pollution, marine environment, environment tax, and wildlife protection having been enacted or modified, and also ratified treaties concerning the Paris climate change agreement.
"With all these efforts, a comprehensive legal framework is gradually taking shape," said Mr Zhang.
Premier Li Keqiang also expounded on environmental protection targets Monday when delivering a government work report. China will cut sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 3% and achieve a continuous decline in PM2.5 density in key areas. This year, chemical oxygen demand and ammonia nitrogen emissions will be cut by 2%, he added.
It will encourage upgrading in the steel and other industries to achieve ultra-low emissions, he said.
Premier Li also emphasised that the government will redouble efforts to protect and restore ecosystems, such as completing the setting of redlines for ecological conservation across the country, wetland protection and national parks system reforms.