I love it when China refuses to play along with its most sycophantic flatterers. You may recall that we discussed HSBC’s bizarre contention that 37.8% (or US$221.3 billion) of China’s stimulus package is devoted to funding “green” projects. These numbers lead to mind boggling claims that “China’s leaders are investing $12.6 million every hour to green their economy.”
Wan Bentai, chief engineer at the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), has just slapped these hallucinators across the cheek. He was quoted today to the effect that “some 210 billion yuan (US$30.7 billion) will support environmental initiatives.” That works out to about 5.25% of the total stimulus package which is even lower than the 10% some Chinese officials had previously quoted. This is still a significant sum (although by the end of April only about 23 billion yuan had actually been spent), and represents a real commitment to the environment. It is not, however, anywhere near the HSBC hype.
The same article also included some additional news concerning the Jinsha dam “stop work” order issued by MEP that we reported on earlier this week. Mr. Wan reported that
“MEP has sent an inspection team to the construction site,” Wan said. “It found the two companies had already halted construction and workers had been withdrawn. People in charge of these projects from the two power companies have come to MEP to acknowledge their mistakes.”
The facts on the ground are anyone’s guess, so take this report with the usual amount of skepticism. MEP’s next steps are unclear.
The fate of the projects will be determined via an overall assessment being carried out by NDRC, MEP and the Ministry of Water Resources, Wan said. “Construction of the two hydro projects will only be resumed if they fit into the overall development plan for Jinsha River,” Wan said.
It’s a little hard to understand what is being referred to here from a legal perspective. It appears that Mr. Wan is saying that a regional or “special program” EIA is going to be conducted to determine if hydro power projects fit within the overall development goal of the region. Even if the results of this type of EIA support the construction of dams in general, a project specific EIA would still be required for each dam project.
One thing seems pretty clear, however. With the NDRC involved these projects are in little danger of permanent shut down.