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'More Money Needed' to Keep Beijing Environment Clean
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Beijing still has an expenditure gap to keep its environment clean, according to its green gross domestic product (GDP) report.

The capital was the first to release the 2004 Environmentally Adjusted GDP Accounting pilot project among the 10 participants, including the municipalities of Tianjin and Chongqing, and the provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, Anhui, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Guangdong and Hainan.

The report shows that in 2004, Beijing needed 3 billion yuan (US$375 million) more than the earmarked 5 million yuan (US$625 million) to treat its total pollutant discharge.

"Statistics show that Beijing still has a large debt to pay to improve its environment," Beijing Statistical Bureau deputy head Yu Xiuqin said yesterday.

The economic damage caused by pollution in Beijing that year was about 11.7 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion), or 1.92 percent of its 606 billion yuan (US$76 billion) GDP. The national average, however, was 3.05 percent.

Air pollution caused the greatest damage, resulting in an economic loss of 9.5 billion yuan (US$1.1billion), followed by water pollution and solid waste.

"The green GDP report is just the tip of the iceberg showing the extent of environmental damage because it doesn't cover natural resources depletion and ecosystem destruction," deputy head of Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau Du Shaozhong said.

"It doesn't even take into account soil, underground water, indoor air, noise and radioactive material pollution," Du said.

The national green GDP report was published in September 2006, and was calculated by deducting the cost of environmental degradation from traditional GDP. It was done to show people and officials the cost exacted by economic growth.

Though some participating provincial and municipal governments have reportedly pulled out of the pilot project after the 2004 report was published, Yu said "Beijing will actively work with the top environmental watchdog and statistical administration to take the scheme forward".

(China Daily February 14, 2007)

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