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. China Backs Away Fom Green Plan

A woman sorts empty beer bottles at a dump site in Changsha, in China's central province of Hunan, 23 March 2007. China is backing away from a new requirement designed to pressure local governments to clean up the environment after encountering resistance to the plan. China's statistical body has asked the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) not to publish the latest "Green GDP" figures, citing disputes over the numbers, state media reported. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 23, 2007
China is backing away from a new requirement designed to pressure local governments to clean up the environment after encountering resistance to the plan, state media reported on Friday.

China's statistical body has asked the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) not to publish the latest "Green GDP" figures, citing disputes over the numbers, the China Daily newspaper reported.

The "Green GDP" project requires local governments to deduct the costs of environmental degradation when reporting regional and provincial economic growth figures, part of a bid to stem worsening pollution.

"Experience has shown that both the theory and methodology of Green GDP accounting are not sophisticated enough," said a notice from the National Bureau of Statistics to the environmental watchdog, quoted by the newspaper.

"There are lots of difficulties in the pilot project."

Environmental pollution cost China 511.8 billion yuan (64 billion dollars) in economic losses in 2004, amounting to 3.1 percent of total economic output that year, according to the initial "Green GDP" results from 2004.

Results for 2005 were to be released this week but the statistics bureau has asked that they only be given to top officials as a "reference", the paper said.

Late last year, state media reported that some of the 10 provinces involved in the pilot project wanted to pull out, fearing it would hit economic growth.

Much of China is an environmental wasteland, as its surging economy spews massive amounts of pollution into the country's skies and water systems.

China last year failed to hit state-set targets to cut pollution, with SEPA chief Zhou Shengxian blaming local-level governments for putting economic growth above environmental protection.

China said recently it would devise "more realistic" targets but has given no details.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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