China to launch $10.66 billion fund to fight pollution

A building under construction is seen amid smog on a polluted day in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Nov 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A building under construction is seen amid smog on a polluted day in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Nov 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China plans to launch a 50 billion yuan (S$10.66 billion) environmental protection fund in stepped-up efforts to reduce widespread pollution, the official China Securities Journal reported on Wednesday.

The fund would receive investment from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Finance, the paper said, and would attempt to beef up investment in critical sectors through low or no-interest loans.

Beijing has struggled to incentivise local governments and Chinese companies to step up their pollution-fighting efforts. The rapid industrialisation of the world's second-biggest economy has been accompanied by rampant pollution of its air and water supplies, prompting the World Health Organisation to warn of the rising health hazard.

China now emits about twice as much carbon as the United States, the world's second-biggest greenhouse gas polluter. And without major policy changes, China is set to double its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, according to US Energy Information Administration.

The drive to reduce pollution has boosted share values for companies expected to benefit from increased government spending in recent months, in particular water treatment companies.

Official guidance for the fund expected to be published in December, the Journal report said.