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China released regional rankings for its green development index on Tuesday, the first time the country has evaluated local performance based on environment-related indicators rather than speed of GDP growth.
Analysts said the move will help the country achieve a more coordinated social, economic and environmental development.
Beijing tops the overall green development rankings among 31 provinces and regions on the Chinese mainland, followed by Fujian, Zhejiang, Shanghai and Chongqing, according to results released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The Ningxia Hui, Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions round out the bottom three.
The index covers seven major subindexes, including resource utilization, environmental governance, environmental quality, ecological protection, growth quality, green life and public satisfaction. Indicators such as total energy consumption, carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product and total water consumption are included in the assessment system.
The capital stands out in terms of environmental governance, quality of growth and green life, but it falls toward the bottom in terms of environmental quality.
China has made more efforts to upgrade its growth model and improve its ecological system since 2013 and at the 19th CPC National Congress in October the leadership further called for attaching importance to the coordinated development of economic, social and environmental development and urged improvements to the country"s economic and social development assessment system.
The index will play an important role in improving the social and economic development assessment system and guide regions and departments to implement new development concepts and form better career performance concepts, said Ning Ji¬zhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission.
"Ecological civilization construction is a long-term, tough systemic project and annual appraisals (of green development) will be standard in the future," said Ning, who also is head of the bureau of statistics.
The public satisfaction sub-index, based on surveys by the bureau, includes 14 indicators, such as natural environment and local pollution and environmental management, said Jin Yongjin, an economist at Renmin University of China.
The public satisfaction survey has been conducted seriously and thoroughly in all areas, he said. "So the results are reliable and persuasive."
The move to survey public satisfaction is "down-to-earth" and "supported by the public", said Li Xiaoxi, an economist at Beijing Normal University.
He said the green development index "can reflect the overall development of protections for ecological systems in China"s provinces and regions".
"It is a powerful measure for China to accomplish its green development strategy and provides a valuable basis for officials at all levels, especially provincial-level officials, to implement a green development strategy and the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20)."
Local authorities have started to map out their own assessment rules to implement the central government"s new policy.
In Hainan, for example, the provincial government has released a new development assessment method that no longer includes GDP, industrial output or fixed-asset investment growth in assessing the performance of 12 out of 19 cities and counties in the province. Meanwhile, failure to meet ecological and environmental protection standards will be equal to a veto in assessment of local development, according to the new rule.