In his previous post, Simon notes that China will begin spending 1.35% of GDP on environmental protection and asks how much it will eventually cost to clean up China’s pollution mess. No one will really know the cost of course until it is actually cleaned up. (What would Donald Rumsfeld call that, a “known unknown?”) Wang Canfa, who runs the Beijing-based Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, has his own estimate. Wang, who was named one of TIME’s Heroes of the Environment earlier this year, told me that China needs to start spending 2% to 3% of its GDP on environmental cleanup in order to see improvement.
How much is 3% of GDP? It’s more than $300 billion, based on last year’s numbers. Here’s another way to look at it: according to Minxin Pei, a China scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 3% of China’s GDP is the amount that ends up in the hands of the country’s elite due to corruption each year.