China ranks provincial economies with new environment index

A man wears a face mask while riding a bicycle on a polluted day in Shanghai, China, on Nov 22.
A man wears a face mask while riding a bicycle on a polluted day in Shanghai, China, on Nov 22.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China unveiled a new barometer of the health of its regional economies based on environment-related indicators.

Statistics authorities released the "Green Development Index" of 31 provincial-level regions Tuesday (Dec 26) based on gauges ranging from environment quality, resource utilisation to the local authorities' pollution clean-up efforts in 2016.

Beijing, which made international headlines in recent years with its choking smog, topped the ranking with the highest readings on environment governance and the quality of economic growth although its environment quality remained near the bottom.

Coastal provinces Fujian and Zhejiang ranked second and third by the new index. Ningxia, Tibet and Xinjiang in the west were at the bottom.

The world's second largest economy is shifting away from the growth-at-all-cost model with heavy-handed enforcement measures to clean up pollution this year, shaking up industries and rippling global commodity prices. The new index offers an alternative to evaluate the performance of local officials, who used to inflate economic output growth to boost career prospects.

Results from a survey on the level of public satisfaction were also published with the gauge without serving as part of the index.

Residents in Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin - a region with over 100 million people near the capital and the top target of the pollution cleanup this year - were the least happy. People living in Tibet, Guizhou and Hainan were the most satisfied.