Saihanba National Forest Park, China's largest man-made woodland, in Weichang Manchu and Mongolian autonomous county in Chengde, Hebei province.
A local leader may boast how well his city or province has done in protecting the local environment and ecosystems, but the central government has a series of standards and indexes to determine how much local officials have really done in these regards.
The National Bureau of Statistics, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and some other State and Party departments jointly released the results of analyzing these standards and indexes for 2016 on Monday. In the published results, such green development indexes as the utilization of resources, remedying contaminated soil or water, the environmental quality and the conservation of biosystems are listed for different provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Also published is the degree of satisfaction with the local environment expressed by residents.
This is the first time such information has been published, and it is to become an annual practice. The releasing of the information means it is not just the central government that will know how well a local government has performed in protecting the environment and local ecosystems, but also ordinary residents.
There is little doubt that a local government will face more pressure from both the central government and its local residents when it comes to how it performs in dealing with the enterprises that discharge pollutants and with industrial accidents that have an environmental impact.
Along with inspections by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and heavier penalties for violations of the environmental protection law, as well as the strict requirement for polluters to pay compensation for the pollution they have caused, the publication of these indexes is a move to further tighten the noose on polluters.
It goes without saying that all the measures the central authorities have adopted are meant to bring home the message that local leaders must change their mentality about economic growth.
It is a blessing for all when local leaders show deserved concern for environmental protection, and it would be stupid for local leaders to take it for granted that they can pay off the central authorities with handsome GDP figures without showing concern for the GDP's impact on the environment.