Friday, January 12, 2007

"Breakneck growth" and "environmental bottlenecks" in China

The BBC report that:

China fails environment targets
The BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, says much of China's airborne pollution comes from large coal-burning power stations and car exhaust fumes, neither of which can be reduced quickly.

Many factories also ignore the law and pump toxic waste into rivers and lakes.

And with the country still focused on breakneck economic growth, there is little sign that things are going to get better any time soon, our correspondent says.

Another senior officials said the situation was worse than ever.

"2006 has been the most grim year for China's environmental situation," vice-minister Pan Yue was quoted as saying on the Web site of the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa).

The International Herald Tribune report the story as:

Report: China has pollution accident almost every two days
BEIJING: There was a pollution accident once almost every two days in China last year, with authorities receiving 600,000 environmental complaints, state media reported Thursday.

The number of complaints was up 30 percent over 2005, a State Environmental Protection Administration official was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency.

Administration Deputy Director Pan Yue was quoted as saying that in addition to the 161 accidents last year, the administration also suspended 163 environment-damaging projects with a total investment of 770 billion yuan (US$96 billion). The projects included the construction of steel and power plants.

Xinhua said environmental pollution caused 511.8 billion yuan (US$64 billion; 49.16 billion) in economic losses in 2004, equal to 3 percent of gross domestic product that year.

Only when the costs start getting into this sort ofrealmm can we expect "economics" to give the environment a helping hand.

I like the quote from the Housten Chronicle:

"The environmental problem has become a key bottleneck for social and economic development," it said.

An unhealthy workforce is clearly going to be bad for growth. Access to clean water would also help one would imagine. The question is how tight is the bottleneck now and how much tighter will it get.

Chinese growth could soon be proverbially "hoisted by its own petard".

(hat-tip Hamlet, act III, scene 4, lines 206 and 207) and the ever thought provoking Gristmill.

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