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New Studies Call On China to Measure and Assess Its Green Economy Opportunities

Beijing, China, 11 June 2014 – Two new reports released today by UNEP and Chinese government highlight how China can measure and model its environmental industry to maximize resource efficiency and boost economic growth as the country transitions towards a low carbon, green economy.

China’s environmental industry has an estimated annual production growth rate of 15 per cent, and grew more than five-fold between 2004 and 2011. While it is recognized by the government as one of seven strategic emerging industries, at the same time, there are growing concerns about air and water quality, soil pollution and forest degradation. 

“Measuring China’s Environmental Industry,” examines the feasibility of China adopting new global standards for tracking the latest data and trends in its Environmental Goods and Services Sector (EGSS), as a means to inform its green development strategy and identify potential new green growth opportunities. 

Under EGSS, the environmental industry includes all areas related to environmental protection and resource efficiency – from the manufacturing of air filters and waste management to renewable energy technologies and recycling.

Conducted in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning, which is part of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, the report compares the internationally-adopted EGSS statistical framework with China’s current data systems, and assesses their linkages and gaps in relation to its environmental industry. 

It specifically examines China’s Environmental Industry Survey, which provides the most comprehensive measure of the country’s environmental industry to date, and explores how it could be used as a starting point for adopting an EGSS framework.  In addition, the report includes findings from a pilot study in Wuhan city, as well as input from Hubei Academy of Environmental Sciences, and local environmental industrial associations and companies.

The EGSS  framework is already being implemented in many developed countries, but this is the first such study to explore how it could be adopted by a country with an emerging economy. 

“The study demonstrates China’s leadership to advance its green economy and its commitment to promoting an eco-civilisation that values people and nature, as well as economic growth,” said Sheng Fulai, a senior economist with UNEP, who led the study. 

“Both of these studies are intended to support the government’s recent legislation on energy-saving and environmental protection, and show where there are opportunities for further policy reforms and green investment that will promote sustainable development,” said Mr Sheng.

“The growth of environment-related industries is one of the key contributors in the green scenario of the modelling report.  A comprehensive accounting framework in environmental industry could measure and therefore promote further growth of the industry as well as the green economy in China, ” he added.

The second report released today, “Modelling China’s Green Economy 2010-2050,” shows how green economy policies can benefit, among others, the country’s economic growth, climate mitigation and adaption efforts, job creation and improved living standards for the poor. 

Produced in cooperation with the Institute of Scientific and Technological Information of China, a subsidiary of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the report uses the Threshold 21 model to analyze three development scenarios (baseline, brown and green) and determine the costs and benefits of each development pathway.

While the report shows that the overall GDP growth rate would be lower in a green economy scenario than in a baseline or brown economy scenario, if taking into consideration the environmental costs of such growth, it finds the green economy scenario would actually enhance the competitiveness of the economy. 

For example, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced under a green economy model.  In addition, better soil condition, water quality and quantity, as well as technology development, could increase agriculture production.  Also, such an approach would result in more decent jobs being created.

Based on the analysis, the report finds that future policies should prioritize green investment, sustainable consumption and production and green technology.  In addition, further policy reforms would be required to support these efforts. 

To download a copy of the reports, visit:  www.unep.org/greeneconomy

For more information, contact:

UNEP Newsdesk -  Hao Chen, Press Officer, by email:  Hao Chen@unep.org

UNEP China Office - Nanqing Jiang, National Programme Officer, UNEP China Office, by email: jiang@unep.org