China’s first-of-its-kind “Green GDP” report finds pollution hampering economy

The Chinese government is exploring an innovative way to assess economic growth with a new “green GDP” report, released last month. The report found that air and water pollution cost the nation $64 billion in 2004, equivalent to 3 percent of gross domestic product; it suggests that China’s true growth rate in 2004 was actually closer to 7 percent rather than the officially touted rate of more than 10 percent. Pan Yue of the State Environmental Protection Administration spearheaded the reporting project, and hopes to refine the green GDP measuring system and convince the government to incorporate it into the official economic evaluation system. “China can’t go the way of polluting first, and then treating it,” said Jia Feng of SEPA, or “the ecological system that shoulders economic development will be crushed.” More than 400,000 Chinese die from air pollution each year, and about 300 million lack access to clean drinking water.