China's spending on environmental protection will fall 30% short of targets for 2001-2005, state media said March 30, despite growing problems sparked by 25 years of rapid economic growth. China earmarked 700 billion yuan ($85 billion) to clean up badly contaminated land and water resources for the five-year period but the sum will not be met, the China Daily quoted government officials as saying. "The actual investment will not exceed 70% of the planned total by the end of the year," said Chen Bin, vice-head of the Planning and Financing Department under the State Environmental Protection Administration.
Despite six Chinese cities being among the world's top 10 most polluted, tackling environmental concerns have taken a backseat to the country's breakneck industrialization. Experts have warned that China must do more if wants to control the fallout and Chen admitted some $157 billion was needed for environmental protection over the next five years.
Chen said plans being drafted for 2006-2111 would allocate spending equal to 1.5% of gross domestic product but only when this reaches 3% percent of GDP can a country improve its environmental quality noticeably. Priority in the years ahead would be given to ensuring safe drinking water for urban and rural residents, reducing pollution in major rivers and lakes, controlling air pollution in big cities and improving soil quality.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005