An elaborate points system that determines the careers of officials is often blamed for many of China’s problems. In their drive to meet targets for economic growth, local mandarins squander money, ride roughshod over citizens and ravish the environment. So now China is trying to devise and embed into its assessment of officials a way of calculating a “green GDP“”which allows for environmental costs in national accounts”to help mitigate some of these excesses.
President Hu Jintao first endorsed the idea in March 2004, in a speech about the need to foster a “scientific concept of development”, a slogan intended to suggest that in pursuing growth China should pay more heed to such issues as the environment and the depletion of natural resources. Last February, the government said that ten regions, including Beijing, were carrying out a pilot project in green GDP assessment. Pan Yue, the deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said a “framework” for a green GDP accounting system could be unfolded within three to five years. This would make China the pioneer of a statistical approach that no other country has adopted”and which many economists around the world eschew as an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable.