Toughts, news and small talk mainly concerning China from a berlin perspective

3/17/2005

Green GDP wishful thinking?

When I watched BBC’s Talking Point on Sunday (13.5.05) Xiong Lei, Director of the Chinese News Agency, asked about environmental pollution, mentioned the “tempest” of environmental protection, that started end of last year, and the green GDP. Today the Asian Times has an article about the topic:

State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Vice President Pan Yue told a press conference on February 28 that SEPA and the National Bureau of Statistics would enforce a pilot green GDP accounting system in 10 provinces and municipalities in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. This would mark China's first step to evaluate the tremendous cost of environmental pollution in the course of its breathtaking economic progress.

and later

Recently, it was reported that the green GDP indicator could be listed as a yardstick to measure the performance of officials and party cadres in 2007.

That would in fact be a big advantage, but it seems that not everybody is pleased with these plans, or at least skeptical about it:

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) spokesman Zheng Jingping admitted, "as for the green GDP project, the concept is good but the practice will be difficult". He acknowledged that "the idea of green GDP indicates that the social awareness of environmental protection and resource conservation has been awakened", but warned that "the public has pinned too much expectation on the system".

and


Skeptics already smell a subtle divergence between the SEPA and the NBS over the effects of the new accounting system.


I’m also quite skeptical if these plans will work, even if they have backing from the top of the government. Money has a big seductive power, and with environmental protection mostly you don’t make money. There are a lot of people who have financial interests in opposing the introduction of the Green GDP, and those who suffer under the pollution have no voice. Also the power of the central government isn’t that big on local level, and the decisions, that lead to the severe state in which the environment of China is, are made at provincial and regional level, as the article also mentions.
So it doesn’t look that good for the Chinese Greens, but good luck to them anyway and lets hope for the best.

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