President Hu Jintao’s most ambitious attempt to change the culture of fast-growth collapsed this year. The project, known as “Green G.D.P.,” was an effort to create an environmental yardstick for evaluating the performance of every official in China. It recalculated gross domestic product, or G.D.P., to reflect the cost of pollution.I like this idea of a Green G.D.P. Disappointing that it has been shelved for the moment in China, I think it would be in their best interest to bring it back.
But the early results were so sobering — in some provinces the pollution-adjusted growth rates were reduced almost to zero — that the project was banished to China’s ivory tower this spring and stripped of official influence.
The Green G.D.P. team sought to calculate the yearly damage to the environment and human health in each province. Their first report, released last year, estimated that pollution in 2004 cost just over 3 percent of the gross domestic product, meaning that the pollution-adjusted growth rate that year would drop to about 7 percent from 10 percent. Officials said at the time that their formula used low estimates of environmental damage to health and did not assess the impact on China’s ecology. They would produce a more decisive formula, they said, the next year.
That did not happen. Mr. Hu’s plan died amid intense squabbling, people involved in the effort said. The Green G.D.P. group’s second report, originally scheduled for release in March, never materialized.
The official explanation was that the science behind the green index was immature. Wang Jinnan, the leading academic researcher on the Green G.D.P. team, said provincial leaders killed the project. “Officials do not like to be lined up and told how they are not meeting the leadership’s goals,” he said. “They found it difficult to accept this.”
I am also curious how exactly they calculated it, but this being China, hard to say if that information would ever become public.
via NY Times