MEP urges greener hydropower development in China

February 10, 2012

In its recently released “Report on Further Strengthening Environmental Protection Through Hydropower Construction,” the China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection argues that the country’s hydropower development “go completely green” and must not violate the “three minimum standards” for environmental protection.

These standards are: (1) the legal minimum standard, i.e. no hydropower projects may be developed in established protected areas; (2) the public welfare minimum standard, i.e. projects should not interfere with the people's right to a healthy living environment; and (3) the watershed ecology minimum standard, i.e. projects should not interfere with the ability of the watershed ecosystem to thrive.

The report helps to outline standards for the Water Resources Ministry as it continues to plan and develop projects in response to surging energy demands.

Under its 12th Five Year Plan, introduced last year, China has plans to construct a number of large-scale hypropower plants in the environmentally sensitive and earthquake-prone southwest of the country. By 2015 conventional hydropower capacity it targeted to be 254-GW, a 50 pecercent increase over its capacity in 2010.

The country has also come under fire for it backing on controversial hydropower development projects in neighbouring countries. Last year the Burmese Government cancelled plans for the USD3.6 billion Myitsone dam project backed by China, saying it was “contrary to the will of the people”.