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Stimulus programs fuel green concerns (2)

By Lan Lan  (China Daily)

08:10, September 25, 2012

However, after the economy's growth fell to a three-year low in the second quarter, the government changed gears and boosted approval procedures for new investment projects.

This opened the floodgate for various projects which soon added up to 17 trillion yuan, according to Wu Jinglian, a veteran economist and government economic policy adviser.

Wu has been openly critical of the heavy reliance on government investment for economic growth, saying its negative outcome would inevitably harm the economy's long-term health.

China's measure of energy intensity - energy use for each unit of GDP growth - went down 2.01 percent in 2011, missing the government target by 1.2 percentage points.

In a region-by-region breakdown, energy intensity in Beijing and Tianjin went down 6.94 percent and 4.28 percent respectively in 2011. It went up as much as 9.44 percent in Qinghai province, 6.96 percent in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and 4.6 percent in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

Economic fluctuations can influence the environment in China, said Ma Zhong, dean of the Renmin University school of environment and natural resources.

China managed to fulfill its environmental targets during its 9th Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) and 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), thanks in part to the 1998 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis, Ma noted.

The use of desulphurization systems in China's coal-fired power plants increased from lower than 10 percent before 2000 to higher than 85 percent in less than 10 years, he said.

From 2011 to 2015, China's plan is to slash its energy intensity by 16 percent and carbon emission intensity by 17 percent, compared with 2010.

The current slowdown should be seen as a good opportunity for the economy to discard its growth model, and for local officials to change their way of thinking to learn to adopt a long-range view, Ma said.

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