ADB okays $300m China anti-pollution loan
12 December 2015, Nirapad News: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $300m loan on Thursday to help clean Beijing’s notoriously polluted air, as it pledged to support Chinese government efforts to reduce coal use in and around the capital.
Beijing officials issued their first “red alert” on Monday after particulate readings soared to hazardous levels, forcing the closure of factories, construction sites and many schools, reports the Financial Times.
The loan aims to reduce coal use in Hebei province, which contributes much of the pollution that routinely blights both Beijing and the nearby port city of Tianjin.
Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, referred to collectively as the greater Jing-Jin-Ji area, are home to almost 110m people and account for 10 per cent of China’s economic output.
Seven of China’s 10 most polluted cities are located in Hebei, which consumes more coal than all but one other province. The ADB loan will support policies aimed at reducing annual coal consumption in Hebei by more than 12m tonnes.
“Although they are making a lot of effort, the pollution is still there,” said Satoshi Ishii, an ADB development specialist. “The fundamental issue is Hebei’s coal-based economy and industrial structure.”
The financial assistance package is the first “policy loan” made by the ADB in China. The Chinese government has traditionally been reluctant to involve overseas lending agencies in policy decisions on critical issues such as the environment. The complexity of China’s environmental challenges has, however, underscored the need to tap external expertise.
“It is less common to do a policy loan for an upper middle income country like China,” said Hamid Sharif, ADB’s China country director. “But as China faces complex issues like air pollution, it is open to policy dialogue and inputs.”
ADB officials added that their discussions about the loan began in January.