China to spend $175 billion on the environment
China to spend $175 billion on the environment
July 18, 2006
China plans to spend about $175 billion protecting its environment over the next five years according to a report from BBC News.
The money will be used to reduce pollution, improve water quality, and cut soil erosion.
China has some of the world’s most polluted cities and waterways. A December 2005 report from the Chinese government said some 300 million Chinese drink unsafe water tainted by chemicals and other contaminants, while a nationwide survey found that about 90% of China’s cities have polluted ground water. Meanwhile, a 2005 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), reported that seven of the world’s ten most polluted cities are in China and almost two thirds of the country’s largest cities fail to meet the organization’s air quality standards. Further, China is the planet’s largest emitter of sulfur dioxide and acid rain plagues about a quarter of the countryside. The World Bank estimates that pollution is costing the country 8-12% of its $1.4 trillion GDP in direct losses.
In recent years China taken a number of steps to reduce environmental degradation. The government has banned logging, spent $190 million on environmental protection along the new Golmud and Lhasa railway, initiated a reforestation project that would plant an area of forest the size of California, and invested billions in renewable energy technologies including wind, solar, and biofuels, setting a target of 12 percent of its power generation capacity coming from renewables by 2020 — up from a 3 percent in 2003. The government’s interest in reducing China’s use of petroleum products extends beyond environmental and health concerns; it sees both the strategic value of mitigating its reliance on foreign oil and the economic advantages of being on the technological leading edge of energy production.
Government control facilitates environmental action
China’s environmental mobilization may be made easier by the government’s strict control over the country.
“When the government decides it wants to protect the environment, it doesn’t worry about the concerns of local people, it just goes ahead and does what it needs to suit its goals,” said Ling, a Chinese national who spoke on the condition that her full name not be used.
Nevertheless, it is evident that the Chinese government is increasingly concerned that the country’s environmental problems will eventually impact its booming economy.
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