03/28/2013, 00.00

Pollution costs China US$ 175 billion a year

The Ministry of Environmental Protection found that pollution costs, not to mention health-related costs, have risen faster than GDP growth. At present, the authorities are unable to cope with the situation, which might get out of hand.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The average direct cost of pollution in the past ten years has been US$ 175 billion per year, a government study found. The actual numbers could be even higher since the aforementioned figure does not take into account pollution-related deaths and health costs.

As big as it is, the problem represented 2.5 per cent of total economic output in 2010. In fact, that same year, pollution costs grew faster than GDP, 13.7 per cent against 10.4 per cent, the study reported.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, who carried out the research, it would take 558.9 billion yuan (US$ 60 billion) to undo the damage caused. This represents a huge jump compared to 287.4 billion yuan that would have been needed in 2004.

That year was not randomly picked. Local governments have stubbornly resisted the study because its findings could tarnish their political record. As a result, researched have been able to release figures only for 2004 and 2008, and now 2010 even though the study is conducted annually.

The environment is one of China's top problems. Forced by the need to promote economic growth at all costs, the government has failed to protect the environment and reduce the use of raw materials. In so doing, the problem can only grow further, year after year.


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