A policy based on economic leverage such as prices, taxes, and
insurance is called for in a bid to control the behavior of
economic entities to ensure that there is harmony between economic
growth and environmental protection.
Compared with the traditional regulating mechanism based on
government command, a new economics-environmental policy is geared
to readjusting the economic interests of entities in environmental
protection and resources distribution and, in turn, introducing a
set of incentives and restraining mechanisms needed in the tapping
of resources in a sustainable way.
The new mechanisms boost the development of
environment-protection technologies, sharpens the competitive edge
of economic entities, reduces the cost of environmental protection
and lowers government expense in supervising environmental
Experience in developed countries shows that this kind of
environmental-economic policy is by far the most effective way in
tackling environmental problems in the long term.
In China, there is a scarcity of such environmental-economic
means and no complete set of policies in this regard has taken
shape. The root cause lies in the failure to calculate the costs
sustained by those who do not implement environmental measures and
the costs born by those who do. In the absence of the calculation,
the decision-making lacks the support of scientific data.
The pressing situation, however, does not allow us to take time
to effect ideal environmental-economic policies when everything is
ready. We have to simultaneously calculate the costs, conduct
research, launch pilot projects, sum up experience, and mobilize
the forces of all sides concerned. All this serves to push for the
establishment of the framework of China's own
China's environmental-economic policy involves seven
First, a "green taxation" regimen needs to be introduced to
reward those who do right in environmental protection and punish
those who do wrong.
Second, rigorous enforcement of fee collection is needed to
redress the situation that doing wrong costs little while doing
right needs a lot of money.
Third, a "green-capital market" ought to be introduced to cut
off the channels through which the polluters obtain capital.
Fourth, ecological-compensation pilot projects should be
launched to explore the way for a sustainable-development
Fifth, a discharge-right exchange market ought to be set up in
order that market forces help achieve the environmental-protection
goals and optimize discharge quotas.
Sixth, we need to largely promote "green trade" in the context
that Western countries are setting up "green" trade barriers.
Seventh, we need to strengthen environment-risk management
through market means in order to provide a policy platform for
enterprises, the public and the government.
All the seven policies are not new, but they are slow in being
adopted by China.
Why? Because they involve power distribution between different
government departments and realignment of interests between various
sectors, regions and economic entities.
In view of this, this author, in his capacity as a senior
official of the State Environmental Protection Administration,
would like to make it clear we will lend our unconditional support
to all authorities that take it upon themselves the responsibility
of implementing the environmental-economic policy. We will try our
best to help them. On condition that the work gets done, we have no
"sectional interests" to speak of.
Environmental problems are very pressing ones and we cannot
afford to wait for the problems to be settled, because involved are
not only China's image among the international community, but also
the country's stability, the harmony of the Chinese society, the
nation's sustainable development and people's health.
The State Environmental Protection Administration can formulate
a package of environmental-economic policies in one year, complete
primary pilot projects in two years, and China's
environmental-economic policy take shape in four years.
The new environmental-economic policies can become an important
milestone in China's road toward modernization.
The "green-oriented" market economy will be a mature market to
nurture a large number of environmentally friendly enterprises.
The "green-oriented" society will be mature one to cultivate a
large number of "green-consciousness" citizens.
The "green-oriented" government will be a mature one to turn out
a large number of officials committed to "green
In this scenario, a "green China" is close at hand.
The author is vice-director of the State Environmental
(China Daily September 19, 2007)