China's booming environmental protection industry is playing an increasingly important role in boosting economic growth, as the country increases funding for its ecological endeavors, an official from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said on Tuesday.
The industry, which accounted for 1.8 percent of China's GDP in 2021, notched up total earnings of 2.18 trillion yuan ($320 billion) over the same period, said Zou Shoumin, head of the ministry's department of science and finance, quoting data from the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry.
"As a strategic emerging industry, the environmental protection industry has been a new source of national economic growth," said Zou, pointing out that the sector's earnings grew by 11.8 percent from 2020 to 2021, which was 3.7 percentage points higher than China's overall GDP growth rate.
China now leads the world in technologies and equipment for ultralow emissions in thermal power plants, the construction of large-scale waste incineration plants and the control of coal-fired flue gas, he said.
As a result of this technological progress, coal-fired power plants with a total installed capacity of 950 million kilowatts and steel plants with total annual capacity of 620 million metric tons have been converted to ultralow emissions since 2016.
"The development of the environmental protection industry has made a marked contribution to environmental and ecological improvement," he said.
According to the ministry, for example, the average density of PM 2.5 particulate matter in major Chinese cities dropped by 34.8 percent last year from the level in 2015.
These environmental improvements are also due to increased funding from the central government, with its spending on environmental protection expected to reach 62.1 billion yuan this year, up by 4.9 billion yuan from 2021.
"Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, the central government has consistently increased funds for environmental and ecological conservation. This is not easy," he said.
"This demonstrates the great importance the central authorities have attached to the work, and its people-centered development philosophy."
Zou said the ministry has also endeavored to tap the potential of financial capital in bolstering environmental protection work.
In the second half of 2021, the ministry set up a cooperation mechanism to recommend projects with both good environmental and economic benefits to 10 financial institutions, including China Development Bank and Bank of China.
The first list of projects was sent to the financial institutions in July, said Zou, adding that this procedure will now take place every two months.
The ministry will strive to garner increased support from both central government investment and financial capital, as it strives for even greater achievements in the nationwide battle to prevent and control pollution, he said.