China ‘green’ sector seen growing to 3 percent of GDP by 2020: official

Beijing's landmark buildings are seen during a polluted day in Beijing, China, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

China expects the output value of its energy-saving and environmental protection industry to rise from 4.5 trillion yuan ($653 billion) last year to more than 10 trillion by 2020, lifting its share of gross domestic product from 2.1 percent to 3 percent.

State news agency Xinhua quoted Hu Zucai, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s state planning agency, in a report on the forecasts on Tuesday. Hu said the industry currently employs more than 30 million people.

China is hoping that big outlays in the environmental sector will not only reverse some of the damage done by more than three decades of breakneck economic growth but will also help diversify the country’s heavy industrial economy.

Total investment in pollution prevention is expected to reach 8-10 trillion yuan over the 2016-2020 period, according to analysts with Everbright Securities. Spending stood at 4.3 trillion yuan over the previous five years, amounting to 1.45 percent of GDP, they said.

The Chinese government approved a “five-year plan” for the environment earlier this month, vowing to make significant cuts in total emissions and “bring environmental risks under effective control” by 2020.

In recent policy documents, the government has also promised to spend heavily to improve its environmental monitoring systems and boost sewage and household waste treatment over the 2016-2020 period.