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Environment Protection Efforts In China Not Sufficient Warns OECD

World Bank Data On Pollution Deaths Unreliable Says China
Beijing (AFP) July 17 - Research methods used by the World Bank to conclude that 750,000 people die a year in China due to pollution are unreliable, a senior Chinese environmental official said Tuesday. "The World Bank report about the number of premature deaths in China caused by pollution runs short of precise and scientific evidence," said Zhou Jian, vice minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration. "Such figures will not be reliable unless a consistent standard, method and indicator system (from) scientific circles is set up to measure the direct impact of pollution on people's health in a particular country or area."

Zhou said Chinese authorities were open to "deepened discussions" with experts at the World Bank to reach a "comparatively convincing and scientific figure". Western media earlier said that a World Bank draft report completed last year stated that about 750,000 people die prematurely each year from pollution in China. The reports said China successfully lobbied for the removal of a third of the draft report, entitled the "Cost of Pollution in China," arguing that the contents could spark social unrest. Speaking at an environmental forum co-sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Zhou said it was very difficult for China to determine the impact of pollution on people's health over time.

"I don't dare conclude which country can clearly and accurately determine to what extent ecological problems, or pollution, is leading to the reduction of people's life expectancy," he said. "China doesn't have sufficient financial resources to record the health condition changes of a targeted group of people in a targeted region over 20 or 30 years." China's booming economy has come at a huge cost to the environment with up to 70 percent of the nation's waterways polluted and air quality in its biggest cities among the worst in the world.

by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jul 18, 2007
The OECD warned Tuesday that China's breakneck economic growth was wreaking severe damage on the environment and said Beijing's efforts to date to curb pollution had been insufficient. "Rapid economic development, industrialisation and urbanisation have generated severe and growing pressures on the environment resulting in significant damage to human health and depletion of natural resources," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said in an introduction to a report on China's environmental performance.

He said "air pollution levels in some cities are among the worst in the world, one third of water courses are severely polluted and illnesses and injuries are associated with poor environmental and occupational conditions."

China is also the world's second-largest producer of greenhouse gases and is still the largest producer and consumer of ozone-depleting substances, the report said.

While Chinese authorities have introduced some regulatory and economic measures, "these efforts have not been sufficient to keep pace with environmental pressures and challenges generated by the very rapid growth of the economy," the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

The report, which includes 51 policy recommendations, said energy consumption per unit of economic output was about 20 percent higher than the OECD average.

It also said that large-scale transfers of water from southern to northern China needed to keep up with growing demand. Among the policy recommendations, the OECD prescribed higher prices for energy, water and other natural resources that would better reflect their scarcity.

"The under-pricing of energy, water and other resources needs to be addressed," it says.

That step should go hand-in-hand with compensating or mitigating the impact of price hikes on the poor.

An interministerial group should also be set up to examine how environment-related taxes might be restructured to help better achieve environmental policy objectives, it suggested.

For the past 15 years China has had economic growth of 10.1 percent per year and is now the fourth-largest economy in the world. It has set a target of quadrupling GDP between 2000 and 2020.

But despite pledges by authorities to clean up the environment, "economic priorities have over-ridden environmental concerns."

Among the other recommendations of the report are the need to improve governmental supervision of the environmental performance of Chinese corporations working oversees.

And the OECD calls on Beijing to prepare a "coherent national plan" on climate change.

It also calls for a better mix of incentives and sanctions for respecting environmental standards.

In addition, environmental expenditure needs to be made more efficient, strengthening the principles of "polluter pays" and "user pays," it said.

The OECD groups 30 industrialised nations, including the Group of Seven, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Although China is not part of the organisation, the OECD said it had used the same methods of examination as for member countries.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Indian Luxury Hotel Boss Calls For Major City Clean-Up
New Delhi (AFP) July 11, 2007
The head of one of India's top luxury hotel chains called on the country Wednesday to launch a major clean-up of its filthy cities or suffer a drop in tourist arrivals. "We have to clean our cities or risk losing tourists," said P.R.S. Oberoi, the chairman of the EIH Associated Hotels group, which includes the five-star Oberoi chain.

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