Local environmentalists have appealed to the country's top economic policymaking body to resume environmentally adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) accounting.
Li Hengyuan, deputy secretary-general of the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) called on the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to lead a group of environment-related ministries and departments in rolling out the accounting system across the country.
Simply called Green GDP accounting, environmentally adjusted GDP accounting is intended to demonstrate to the public and officials the waste created and environmental damage done by the process of economic growth.
It is calculated by deducting the cost of natural resources' depletion and environmental degradation from the traditional GDP figure.
According to the ACEF, the bodies to be included are: the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the National Forestry Administration, the State Oceanic Administration and the Agriculture and Water Resources ministries.
The ACEF is one of the country's most influential environmental NGOs with a strong government background. Most of its members are retired senior officials from environment-related positions.
Its members this week told a news conference that whether or not Green GDP accounting was employed was a reflection of officials' concept of environmental protection.
Other environmentalists, however, raised doubts about the ACEF's suggestion.
Zhang Jianyu, a program manager in Beijing for Environmental Defense, a US-based NGO, said: "Environmentally adjusted GDP accounting is a controversial but potentially groundbreaking instrument."
The first Green GDP accounting report, for 2004, was published last September. It showed that the financial loss caused by pollution was 511.8 billion yuan (US$66.3 billion), or 3.05 percent of the nation's economy.
(China Daily April 19, 2007)