China is to fast-track expansion and investment in energy saving technologies in an attempt to tackle its worsening pollution problems.
China's cabinet, the State Council announced plans on Sunday to make the energy saving sector a "pillar" of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion).
China's massive economic growth has come at a major cost to its environment and even its environmental ministry has described the country's environmental situation as "grim".
Under the plan, environmental protection industries will receive funding from the government in an effort to stimulate technological innovation. The funding will cover a wide range of technologies that address air, water and soil pollution including energy saving products, waste disposal, electric vehicles and pollution monitoring.
Many analysts welcomed the plan and some were quoted in the Chinese media as saying that it will create opportunities for investors and will give direction to the industry.
"It's good to see this and it's an indication that development of environmental protection and energy saving industry is a priority, since it's coming from the State Council," said Alvin Lin, China Climate and Energy Policy Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing. The plan also includes policies, standards, pilot programmes, financing mechanisms and incentives, emissions and carbon trading said Lin.
However Lin believes that the plan is "vulnerable to being so broad as to be lacking focus and hard to implement.
"I think it could discuss more on the importance of implementing standards and policies in order to create the demand for the energy saving and environmental protection market, and the importance of accurate measurement and public reporting to ensure standards are met," he said.