China the Biggest: Polluter

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There is an almost endless list of what statistic China is biggest in, and what it consumes / produces most of. But not all of them are positive. The latest projection is that China will become the world’s biggest polluter this year – overtaking the US. The Independent reports that:

    “China’s emissions rose by about 10 percent in 2005, a senior US scientist estimated, while Beijing data shows fuel consumption rose more than nine percent in 2006, suggesting China would easily outstrip the US this year, long before forecasts…Taking the top spot would focus pressure on China to do more to brake emissions as part of world talks on extending the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol on global warming beyond 2012.”

A previous estimate last November, from The International Energy Agency (IEA), had projected that China would overtake the US by 2010.

Meanwhile, in China, the much-vaunted “Green GDP” figures (launched in 2004 to show the impact of economic growth on the environment) have hit a problem. According to Reuters:

    “…the National Bureau of Statistics had asked the State Environmental Protection Administration not to release the results of their “Green GDP” audit for 2005 but to send them instead to the State Council, or cabinet, for reference…The two agencies last September jointly released China’s first Green GDP report, estimating that environmental pollution caused losses of 511.8 billion yuan ($64 billion) in 2004, or 3.05 per cent of that year’s GDP.”

The decision is said to be based on complexities in compiling accurate figures. However, the possibility remains that it is simply easier to hide bad news. Given the fact that last week in Beijing I could not see beyond 4 blocks due to the smog, the latter may seem to have some credibility.

“Green GDP” or not, the environment in China is going to become an increasingly big issue domestically (on the harmonious society agenda) and internationally (the biggest polluter will attract the biggest attention, especially when foreign jobs and trade deficits come into the equation).

From the perspective of companies operating in China, this makes best practice in environmental impact assessments, operations and audits essential – especially for big-name foreign firms, some of which have already been put in the spotlight (see here). Environmental consultants have already seen the light, and have been expanding operations in China. So for them, at least, the smog cloud may have a silver lining.

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2 Responses to “China the Biggest: Polluter”

  1. Archive » Targeting The Environment| China Business Blog Says:

    […] already aware of the risks posed by environmental damage, and that China is set to become the biggest polluter in the world. As Wen’s words suggest, it is also making efforts to manage […]

  2. Archive » China The Biggest: Mobile Phones (And In Line for Online As Well)| China Business Blog Says:

    […] Related entries: General, Research, Consumer Market Last time it was “China The Biggest: Polluter”. This time it is something a bit more positive (at least commer […]

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