(Jul 23, 2007)

Governments in China block "green" economic report

From AP

BEIJING (AP) - China's provincial and city governments have managed to block plans for a ''green'' economic report that included the cost to the environment, a state-run newspaper reported.

The Beijing News quoted a government researcher as saying the release of the ''green GDP'' report had been ''indefinitely postponed'' because it would have publicly included the environmental costs of the country's already badly polluted water, land and air.

''Taking out the costs of the environmental damage would lead to a huge fall in the quality of economic growth in some areas,'' the newspaper quoted Wang Jinnan, a senior expert at the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, as saying. It said Wang was the technical head of the project.

''Now, many areas still place GDP growth above all else, and when such thinking dominates, the size of resistance to a green GDP can be realized,'' Wang said.

Wang said some of China's municipal and provincial governments had urged the State Environmental Protection Administration and the National Bureau of Statistics not to publicly release the data, the newspaper reported. No specific places or governments were listed.

Communist leaders have promised repeatedly to clean up China's badly polluted environment, though they warn they are constrained by a need to promote economic growth and lack of technology.

Also Monday, the China Daily newspaper reported that excessive spending on high-consumption industries was undermining the central government's efforts to combat its pollution problem and save energy.

China has set targets for cutting pollution and energy use, as defined by per unit of gross domestic product, but has already fallen behind those goals.

''The central government is committed to achieving the (green) targets but some local governments have turned a blind eye to them,'' He Bingguang, a deputy director with the National Development and Reform Commission, was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

He said local areas were ignoring demands from Beijing to cut spending on steel and other heavy industries so they can pursue economic growth and boost their tax bases.

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