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China sets environment budget to fund war on pollution

Friday, March 20, 2015 - 19:01
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China will dedicate 1.5 billion yuan (S$338.25 million) this year to projects to help disperse smog in areas around the capital, Beijing, the influential economic planner said on Friday, as part of efforts to assuage public anger about pollution.

[BEIJING] China will dedicate 1.5 billion yuan (S$338.25 million) this year to projects to help disperse smog in areas around the capital, Beijing, the influential economic planner said on Friday, as part of efforts to assuage public anger about pollution.

In a notice, the National Development and Reform Commission said a dedicated environment budget would help fund large anti-pollution projects as well as the manufacture of energy saving equipment and clean technologies.

The plan aims to use public funding to encourage private capital to grow the total value of China's environmental and energy conservation industry to 4.5 trillion yuan this year.

"The government will beef up investment in major projects to protect the ecosystem and environment, cut energy use and reduce emissions," the document said.

The regulator said the government would favour projects for industrial upgrades to supply clean coal to regions around Beijing and reduce sources of smog such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust from factories.

Energy conservation projects that save more than 2,000 tonnes of standard coal a year, as well as companies making equipment to improve efficiency and recycle waste, will also be eligible for funding, it said.

The government will spend half a billion yuan to clean up heavy metal contamination in river basins in five provinces, including central Hunan, where mining has polluted rice plantations, the document said.

China needs to spend 8 trillion to 10 trillion yuan to clean its environment over the next few years, and needs more private sector participation, new environment minister Chen Jining told his first news conference this month.

Investment in the environment has increased around 100 billion yuan annually in the last three years, but government funding makes up around 30 per cent to 40 per cent, Chen said.

China spent 203 billion yuan on environmental protection and energy saving projects last year, figures released during this month's annual session of parliament show.

It plans a 9.5 per cent boost this year in investments in projects to cut air pollution, to 11.55 billion yuan. Subsidies to projects to save energy and cut emissions will rise just over 40 per cent to 47.85 billion yuan, the 2015 budget says.

REUTERS