'Pollute, then treat' is not the right model

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-18 09:44

Editor's Note: Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), has been in the media limelight for the so-called environmental protection "storm" his administration launched in 2005 to curb the country's widespread pollution.

Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration [China Daily]

An ardent advocate of Green GDP, Pan has been pushing hard for the program amid resistance from some local government leaders, who fear more rigid environmental protection measures will hinder local economic growth. In an interview with China Daily, Pan tells of the ambitions of his administration and himself: to build a clean, green China.

Q: It is believed that China could not avoid the practice of "polluting first, then treating it" as experienced by some developed countries. What's your comment on this?

A: It might be true that some of these countries could first develop their economy and then begin to engage in environment protection. But China really cannot afford such a model.

Firstly, when China started its industrialization and modernization drive in the late 20th century, the developed Western countries had already completed their primitive capital accumulation and established a series of international rules in their favor. Under such circumstances, it is impossible for China to transfer its cost of pollution to the rest of the world.

Secondly, the population-environment structure in China is different, so we cannot blindly copy the Western model to pay attention to environment issues only after the country has achieved a per capita GDP of $8,000. China may already be facing a severe environment situation when its per capita GDP reaches $2,000. Economic crisis can be resolved through macro-control, but an ecological crisis will inevitably lead a country to disaster.

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