It seems China is getting serious about attempting to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The country is lowering its annual growth target from 8% to 7%, to ensure more sustainable development during its new five year plan.
From 2000-2010, China’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 10.4%, and its energy demand grew by 220%, compared to a world average of 20%.
As you will see from the article below, China is taking the “depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of the environment” seriously, and they want to focus on quality and efficiency of economic growth. There is obviously a long way to go but this is not a bad sign from China, in relation to more sustainable development.
However, as the article also points out, previous attempts to slow the Chinese economy have failed, but they say this time there will be more effort put into controlling GDP growth.
Pollution in Beijing image CC licensed by David Barrie
China will try to slow GDP growth to ease pressure on the environment following a series of unusually stark warnings from senior ministers about the country’s current mode of development.
The announcement that economic growth targets will be lowered from 8% to 7% over the next five years may mark the end of China’s peak growth years as environmental constraints drive up the expense of resources and pollution control.
“In China’s thousands of years of civilisation, the conflict between humanity and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” the environment minister Zhou Shengxian wrote on his ministry’s website.
“The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of the environment have become serious bottlenecks constraining economic and social development.”
In an online discussion on Sunday, the premier, Wen Jiabao, said China’s 2011-15 economic plan would lower the target for annual GDP growth – “to raise the quality and efficiency of economic growth”.
He said: “We absolutely cannot again sacrifice the environment as the cost for high-speed growth, to have blind development, and in that way to create over-capacity and put greater pressure on the environment and resources. That economic development is unsustainable.”
Any change is likely to be gradual, though immensely significant because China has become the most powerful engine for global economic growth in recent years.
A similar line emerged from a report released last Friday by Tsinghua University’s climate policy initiative. It noted that from 2000-10, China’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 10.4%, which took it from sixth to second place in the world. Per capita GDP in that period rose from 6 to ,300.
China’s energy demand, meanwhile, has surged by 220%, compared to a world average of 20%. Since 2006, the country has accounted for 75% of the global increase in coal consumption and 60% of the increase in oil use.
“In the 12th five-year plan we need to consider quality and efficiency of economic growth. We need to change from a big economy to a strong economy,” said He Jiankun, director of the low carbon energy lab at Tsinghua University.
Instead of a reliance on infrastructure investment and manufacturing for export, family consumption and the service sector should be expanded, he said. He estimated that for every one percentage point fall in the investment share of the economy and one percentage point rise in consumption share, the energy intensity of the economy would be cut by 0.45%.
The lead author of the report, Qi Ye, said the next five-year plan would be different to anything before: “There’ll be more emphasis on controlling GDP growth.”
Previous attempts to slow the economy have failed. Local officials almost always overshoot GDP goals because they see economic growth as the best way to compete with rival regions.
If China adopts the unsustainable lifestyle of most western nations, a new set of environmental problems could arise. But demographic pressures are easing. China’s population increase of 6.3 million people in 2010 was the lowest for many years.
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