There are no recognized environmental problems or policies during this period.
Mao Zedong asserts that there are no environmental problems in socialist countries since the fundamental cause of environmental pollution lies in capitalist countries.
Acknowledging serious water pollution, Chinese delegates attend the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. In '73 Beijing hosts the First National Conference on Environmental Protection. Delegates report environmental damage resulting from the disorder of the '50s and '60s. In 1978 the constitution declares environmental protection key to modernization.
Environmental agencies and legislation begin to appear. Planning begins for the Three Gorges Dam, designed to be the world's largest hydroelectric dam. It will displace nearly 1.9 million people, cost between $20 and $100 billion, and cause widespread environmental damage. Officials say the dam will generate a ninth of China's power and control the Yangtze, which often floods and kills thousands.
Bowing to strong public opposition to the Three Gorges Dam project, the government votes to suspend it during the People's Congress. It remains a pet project of Premier Li Peng, however, and shortly after the Tiananmen Square uprising he resumes planning.
Construction begins on the Three Gorges Dam in the midst of protests by environmental groups lobbying the U.S. to stop financial support in 1994. The World Health Organization cites China as having seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Acid rain falls on 30 percent of its land mass. China plans a costly renewable energy program that includes wind and solar energy in rural areas.
Halfway through construction, some Chinese officials, engineers, and activists say the Three Gorges Dam project is riddled with malfeasance, incompetence, and systemic weakness. There is fear that the massive project will never show a profit. China must address its greenhouse gas problem, as the country is projected to experience a huge increase in carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2020.
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