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Broader environment checks on table
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China is mulling a plan to assess provincial environmental performances, according to the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP).

The CAEP is cooperating with Yale and Columbia universities on the design of an evaluation system for environmental performances at provincial levels, Cao Zhiguo, the program's liaison official, told China Daily yesterday.

"China has already set criteria to determine if the counties, cities and provinces are ecologically sound, but remains nascent on environmental performance assessment, especially at the provincial level," Wang Jinnan, vice-president of CAEP, was quoted by yesterday's China Business Week as saying.

But the CAEP does not have a clear timeline for setting up the system at the moment, Cao said.

The evaluation system will use the Environmental Performances Index (EPI) for reference, Cao said.

EPI is a measurement jointly developed by Yale and Columbia University to quantify the efficiency of environmental management.

The environmental performances evaluation will be different from the "Green GDP", which was designed to gauge real economic growth by deducting the cost of environmental pollution a few years ago.

"Unlike the Green GDP calculation, which focused mainly on economic statistics, the indicators adopted by the evaluation system will cover a wider range," Cao said, "for instance, ecology and health".

The results of the evaluation, once published, are expected to influence decision-makers at provincial level to shift into a sustainable mode of economic development.

In 2005, authorities conducted a pilot project to calculate the Green GDP.

When the first figures were released in September 2006 they showed a 511.8 billion yuan (US$74.73 billion) loss for 2004, or 3.05 percent of the nation's GDP for that year.

Figures for subsequent years have not been released.

Some local governments are opposed to the publication of such disappointing results.

Last year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said China's rapid economic development, industrialization and urbanization have generated growing pressure on the environment.

(China Daily October 7, 2008)

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