Back in the mid-2000s China began to experiment with the notion of Green GDP as a new way of accounting for its growth in an environmental context. This was touched on in a previous blog post, but I thought a more in depth look into exactly what Green GDP showed and why it failed would provide some insight.
The Green GDP for 2004 was published in September 2006 which calculated the loss for the year at 511 billion yuan ($66 billion) or 3.05% of growth. Within that figure it was calculated that water (286 billion yuan) and air (216 billion yuan) pollution were the most significant costs, followed by solid wastes and pollution accidents at 5 billion yuan.
On its publication SEPA director Pan Yue announced that “This marks only the beginning of our efforts in a Green GDP calculation”. But of course it was the first and only year that Green GDP was calculated, its results of near zero (or worse) growth in many areas considered too politically damaging by China’s authorities.