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Shanghai Could Lead Way in Green Growth

The booming city could become a model for economic growth by 2010, provided it keeps the quality of its environment in check.


But nationwide, it will take much longer to maintain double-digit economic growth without sacrificing the environment, Niu Wenyuan, chief scientist of sustainable development research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.


"Wealth accumulation in China is supported by vast energy and natural resource consumption (but there is) great pressure on the environment," Niu said in an address to the Third Leadership Program on Environment for Sustainable Development, with HSBC as one of its sponsors.


Niu predicted that China's environmental problems would worsen in the short term but could taper off once the GDP per capita found its equilibrium.


"The environment stopped deteriorating in the United States when its GDP per capita reached US$11,000, and for Japan the figure was US$8,000," Niu said, citing statistics provided by the World Bank.


"So it's impossible to put a break on China's environmental degradation when it has an average of US$2,000 GDP per capita."


Also, the scientist was optimistic that Shanghai - the nation's economic engine with a GDP per capita exceeding US$7,000 last year - and a few other first-tier cities would become the forerunners to have green GDP growth.


"It's highly likely that Shanghai's environment will improve with a strong GDP growth in 2010," Niu said.


"But a precondition is that environment quality in its surrounding areas must improve and the city is not affected by pollutants produced by the cities in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River."


(China Daily April 23, 2007)

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