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Green can be great for China economy: Cox

BEIJING -- Environmental “green” growth will not necessarily result in slow growth for the Chinese economy, said Pamela Cox, regional vice president for World Bank East Asia and Pacific.

In an interview with China Daily, she said well-laid urbanization plans can prove essential to sound development.

Officials in the world's second largest economy seem to have reached a crossroads and now must decide if they are willing to sacrifice economic growth to ensure energy is used more efficiently.

But, “just because (development is) green doesn't mean it cannot be fast,” Cox said.

“If you look at some of the technologies China is currently producing, for example, solar panels or biogas projects that are producing energy at lower costs for residents, it is smart economics,” she said yesterday.

The demand for energy, and the price of it, is increasing throughout the world, she added. Amid those circumstances, technology that uses energy more efficiently will not only help China spend less on energy but also give it business and export opportunities.

“As China moves out of lower-end export goods, such as clothes and shoes, the country can now export more technologically advanced goods,” Cox said.

“Meanwhile, the lower energy costs paid by citizens can also free up new purchasing power for more consumer goods. So, actually, green growth can be great growth.

“People tend to think that green growth is no growth because green means trying to save as much energy as possible. But actually, what you are trying to do is to use the energy in a smarter way.”

In April, the World Bank forecast that China's economy will grow by 8.2 percent this year. Many institutional analysts, in contrast, made gloomier predictions about the economy after they had seen GDP grow at a rate of 7.6 percent in the second quarter, a three-year low.

Various investment projects are now being planned or are in progress as a way to accelerate the slowing economy.

Many experts say they doubt those projects will detract from the country's commitment to achieve growth in a more efficient manner.

The goals, as stated in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), call for reducing the country's carbon intensity, or its emissions of carbon for each unit of its GDP, by 17 percent by the end of 2015.

In a recent report, the World Bank said urbanization will help China meet that goal.

“Cities are politically, financially, and administratively organized to act quickly and to realize the national policy goals, as they have been driving the economic transformation in the last three decades,” the report said.

“The urban areas can be more innovative, more creative and, potentially, more efficient in terms of resources use, but only if you have done it well,” Cox said.

“Few cities are planned and operated in a perfect way. A lot of cities in the world have to adapt to new progress in a changing economy and world. The key is to start with an integrated approach.”

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