China's green growth could create millions of businesses and jobs

China is a controversial country. They have long been criticized for their dangerous levels of pollution, but they have also recently received praise for investing a great deal in renewable energy. However, the negative tides that blacken China's reputation may yet lighten in color this week.

A report released by the China Council of International Cooperation on Environment and Development included the influential opinions of over 200 experts (both international and domestic), and it ultimately concluded that China has the potential to create more than 9.5 million jobs over the next five years. The catch is that this would be contingent upon China replacing the current industry jobs that are less eco-friendly with jobs that focus on renewable technologies and green energy.

The aforementioned council has thus advised China's government to move forward fiscally and to spend 5.8 trillion yuan toward green ventures. The council calculated that doing such would result in a green GDP boost of 8 trillion, and that the energy-saving processes would also save 1.4 trillion yuan. The current, dirty parts of the economy result in both a loss of jobs and GDP. Li Ganje, the vice minister of Environmental Protection, explains, “The industrial sector is still the prime energy consumer and a major cause of pollution, so greening the sector is key for China's green transformation.â€

The council's report was not altogether positive; it also outlined the repercussions of the current environmental state, and says, “The blind pursuit of economic growth has now become a huge obstacle for China's green growth.â€Â  Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN's Environment Program, commented with the release of the report, citing health repercussions: “They are paying a price first of all individually by premature deaths. . . . Respiratory diseases and premature deaths in the hundreds of thousands.â€

Is China serious about making big changes, or are they too dependent on the current system? Join in the discussion in the comments below and/or share the piece.

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Chris Keenan
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