China may face peaked pollution levels at an earlier stage of economic development than expected, the country's Environment Ministry has warned.
"China has taken a different growth path from developed countries so it is very likely that our pollution peak will come earlier," China Daily quoted Vice-Environmental Minister Zhang Lijun, as saying while releasing the first national pollution census.
The peak could occur when the country's per capita income reaches 3,000 dollars, Zhang said.
China's per capita gross national income hit 2,770 pounds in 2008.
According to Wang Yuqing, director of the national leading office for the pollution census, China's emissions of major air and water pollutants have already reached peak levels and started to come down, as a result of its stringent pollution reduction targets during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010).
The national pollution census showed that China discharged about 209 billion tons of wastewater and 63.7 trillion cubic metres of waste gases in 2007.
"Most of the industrial pollution come from a small number of industries and are mainly concentrated in economically well-off areas," Zhang quoted the census, as saying.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace Campaign Director Sze Pang Cheung said the census has far-reaching implications for China's efforts to curb emissions.
"The Chinese government should use the statistics as the benchmark to prioritize the country's biggest pollution issues, review current measures and policies, and set up more stringent pollution control targets in the 12th Five-Year Plan," he said.