By Xinhua writers Wang Yue, Sun Liping, Cai Yugao and Yu Fei
NANJING, July 4 (Xinhua) -- China is mulling using environmental indices as a yardstick to evaluate the performances of local governments and officials as the country seeks to convert its development mode to a green one, experts said Sunday.
The new assessment criteria has been proposed in a draft of China's 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015), which the government is currently working on. The draft is to be reviewed and is expected to be approved in March 2011 by the nation's top legislature, the National People's Congress.
"This means local governments will have to implement more effective measures to upgrade industries, save energy and cut emissions, rather than simply focus on GDP growth," said Hu Angang, a top policy advisor, at a theme forum of the Shanghai World Expo in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. The two-day forum ended Sunday.
With GDP the most significant indicator in evaluating the performances of local governments and officials, many tend to neglect the environmental factors while concentrating on economic growth.
"The 12th Five-year Plan will not only be China's first national plan for 'green development' but also the historical starting point on the nation's path towards a 'green modernization'", said Hu, also a prominent economist at Tsinghua University, who has been a member of the research team to draft the 10th, 11th and 12th five-year plans.
"Altogether, 24 indices in the current draft are about green development, covering more than half of the total index number of 47. Some of those 'green indices' would be used to assess local governments and officials," he added.
"For instance, indices on 'water consumption per unit GDP', 'proportion of clean coal consumption', 'decrease in natural disaster-resulted economic losses', and proportion of GDP invested in environmental protection' are in the category of assessment criteria in the draft," said Hu.
"As a large developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, China is under unprecedented pressure for both economic development and environmental protection," said Zhou Shengxian, China's Minister of Environmental Protection, at the forum.
"The old path of economic growth based on environmental pollution, implemented in developed countries over the past 300 years, is not feasible in China, and China can not afford the losses brought by this development mode," he added.