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China sets fresh funds of $7.8 bn for ecological zones
July 1, 2014, 8:33 am

Tibetan antelopes look for food at the foot of Hoh Xil Mountain in Golmud, northwest China's Qinghai Province, June 4, 2014 [Xinhua]

Tibetan antelopes look for food at the foot of Hoh Xil Mountain in Golmud, northwest China’s Qinghai Province, June 4, 2014 [Xinhua]

China’s Ministry of Finance announced Tuesday it has allocated 48 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) from the central budget to subsidize ecological functional zones to improve their public services.

The Chinese government does not allow commercial development of these zones.

These ecologically sensitive zones are defined as regions which “play a central role in water and soil conservation, wind shielding as well as the protection of biological diversity”.

200.4 billion yuan has been channelled to those regions since 2008 to guarantee public services in the zones, as China battles concerns about environmental risks.

So far, 512 towns and cities have benefited from subsidies, claims government figures.

The world’s second-largest economy, with a population of 1.3 billion, has encountered a bottleneck as its fast growth has led to adverse side effects for the ecological environment.

China is trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said in Bonn last month that Beijing was working to reduce emissions as early as possible but that Chinese experts were divided about how.

Under a settlement reached in 1992 at the Rio Earth summit, and formalised in the 1997 Kyoto protocol, emerging economies such as China were left out of the roster of obligations to curb emissions.

Meanwhile, a policy notice on China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection website says that projects must pay attention to “economic and ecological benefits, local and overall interests (as well as) immediate and long-term interests.”

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced earlier in April this year that China’s Kubuqi Desert is an ecological economy demonstration zone.

UN researchers will evaluate the desert’s ecology and try to spread successful desert control initiatives to other countries, said Gemma Shepherd, a program officer with the UNEP.

Deserts cover nearly 40 million square kilometers of Earth, accounting for a quarter of its land surface. More than 110 countries and about 1 billion people around the world have been affected by desertification.

 

TBP and Agencies

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