Cleaning Up China: Some Numbers

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A follow up to a previous post about the environment in China and the cost of a clean up. Well, here are some real numbers that show I may have been right and the government thinks it can throw money at the problem and solve it that way. The State Council announced Monday that it would spend about 1.35 pc of GDP annually for the next five years on cleaning up or around $200 billion. Yes, that’s $200 BILLION. And that’s what the government actually admits it will need, which is surely far, far below the real figure they have calculated in private estimates, which is itself a fraction of what outsiders are positing.

The scary part is that China is already spending about the same percentage of GDP on cleaning up but with little effect. There was an environmental protection plan put out in 2001, of course but it wasn’t exactly a roaring success. Instead of dropping by 10 pc as planned, for example, suplhur dioxide emissions actually increased by 28 pc between 2001 and 2005, for example. God alone knows how much the real bill for clean up will be, that is a clean up that actually works. Four pc of gdp ($500 billion)? Six pc ($750 billion or something in that region)?
When you begin to approach one trillion dollars you are beginning to talk real money, even by China’s inflated standards.