“Use the four trillion yuan [US$585 billion] investment to pioneer a green, low-carbon economy,” the letter urged. “Don’t sacrifice the long-term objectives of conserving energy and reducing emissions for the sake of protecting high energy-consuming industries that have no future.”
Environmental advocates are concerned that the government’s desire to bolster economic growth and jobs may favour laxly regulated cement, steel and coke plants and deter effective environmental scrutiny of new projects.
The government set a target of cutting two benchmark pollution measures by 10% between 2006 and 2010 and improving “energy intensity” — the fuel needed to generate each dollar of national income — by 20% by the same date.
Some experts are not confident, however, that such promises can be met when local officials are focused on protecting growth, revenues and jobs. Without comprehensive reform, said Li Dun, a professor of public policy at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, “it will be difficult to fundamentally transform the environment”.
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