Local officials not keen on green arithmetic

By Sun Xiaohua and Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-11 06:56

The central government's bid to factor in the cost of environmental degradation into economic growth with the introduction of "Green GDP" has run into opposition from some local governments.

"There is no consensus on (adopting) Green GDP (standards) among local governments," Wang Jinnan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning and head of the Research Team on Green GDP, said over the weekend, admitting that the pilot project has failed to take off.

"Just a few days ago, some provinces and municipalities said they wanted to withdraw from the Green GDP trial."

While there are different definitions of Green GDP, it is basically a revision of traditional GDP by deducting resource and environmental costs in economic activities.

China is the first developing country to make such an attempt.

In September, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) released the country's first Green GDP Report for 2004. It estimated that economic losses caused by environmental pollution amounted to 511.8 billion yuan (US$66 billion), or about 3.05 per cent of the country's GDP, that year.

The SEPA started a trial introduction of Green GDP in 10 provinces and municipalities last year; and Wang said the country plans to publish the Green GDP Report for 2005 in the first half of next year.

Despite all the difficulties, said Pan Yue, vice-minister of SEPA, the administration will continue to push for the project.

"Even if there is only one province left in the project, we will continue with our work," said Pan, a strong advocate of Green GDP.

Insiders said the controversy over Green GDP mainly stems from technical shortcomings in the survey about accurate figures for economic losses that result from environmental protection.

Pan said in China, environmental protection was different from the situation in other countries. It is not only a technical issue, but also involves politics, the economy and culture, he said.

Wang's research team and eight other people were given awards by the China Environment Culture Promotion Association on Saturday.

(China Daily 12/11/2006 page1)

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