Yesterday’s China Daily took a candid look at how China’s stimulus funds are being spent and their potential impact on the environment. As usual, it appears the guys in the provinces didn’t get the part of the message about protecting the environment.
A team of experts at the [China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development] said last week that even some sound practices and systems already well-established [such as Environmental Impact Assessments] had been brushed aside as local governments strive to keep fast growth and create more jobs.
Another troubling contributing factor is that the “provincial and local governments in some regions have ignored the ‘veto system,’ an accountability system started in 2007 linking leading governmental officials’ performance in energy saving and emission control to their career promotion.”
Li Ganjie, vice-minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection has also expressed concern about the lax application of environmental standards by local officials. With a few exceptions, any construction project (and the stimulus plan is heavily weighted to infrastructure spending) with a total investment of less than US$100,000,000 only needs to seek provincial (or lower) approval of its Environmental Impact Assessment.
Vive Minister Li also noted that about 10% of the 230 billion yuan in stimulus funds the central government has spent from January to March “went to environmental protection, energy efficiency and emissions control.”
Wait a minute you say, is this the same stimulus plan we have been lead to believe is the most eco-friendly in the intergalactic region with nearly 40% devoted to greenery? Why yes it is. Just further proof that China’s news media is fairer and more balanced when it comes to reporting on its own environment than many Western sources.