Bogus data masks China’s pollution woes

BEIJING (AFP)—Soaring pollution levels in China may be even worse than thought because local governments bent on economic growth are lying about their progress in meeting environmental goals.

Data reported by China’s regional governments indicates a national goal to reduce China’s two main pollutants by two percent in 2006 has been reached, but calculations by the top environment watchdog show they actually grew two percent, Xinhua news agency said, quoting an environment official Thursday.

“The figures on pollution control reported by local governments dropped remarkably this year, while the real environmental situation continues to deteriorate,” said the unnamed official with the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

“The inaccurate figures were caused by insufficient supervision of the local governments and possible fabrication.”

The two pollutants are chemical oxygen demand, a measure of organic pollutants in water, and sulfur dioxide, Xinhua said.

The official’s comments mark the latest in a series of alarms by SEPA, which has said central-government efforts to curb the environmental damage from China’s chugging economy are being overwhelmed by the local pursuit of economic growth at any cost.

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