Image source: Economist.com
An article appearing in The Economist last week, Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air (reproduced below), provides a commentary on the largely impotent State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in China. The Deputy Director, Pan Yue, is one of the most outspoken Chinese bureaucrats you are ever likely to come across, but his dire warnings go unheeded, largely because SEPA does not carry much weight alongside the big Ministries.
Despite its best efforts, SEPA has been unable to secure support from the government to publish a green GDP because it was “not internationally accepted”. Interestingly, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) did publish one figure; namely, that environmental damage in 2004 cost 3.05% of that year’s GDP. Maybe this kind of statistic will resonate more deeply with the Chinese government than the number of deaths each year as a result of pollution. According to Pan Yue, 70% of China’s more than 2 million annual deaths from cancer are pollution-related.