February 13, 2008 / 3:36 AM / 10 years ago

China green credit move meets resistance: watchdog

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing’s move to cut bank credit to big polluters has met strong resistance from local governments, China’s environment watchdog said on Wednesday.

The comments by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) showcased the obstacles faced by Beijing policymakers in steering China toward a greener and leaner approach to growth.

“Some provinces and financial institutions have not implemented the green credit policy at all,” said Pan Yue, deputy head of the environment agency, in a statement on its Web site www.sepa.gov.cn.

High polluting and energy-intensive sectors are still profitable and protected by local governments, which take a short-term view of the economy, Pan said.

Pan’s agency and the People’s Bank of China launched a program in July 2007, in which the central bank would instruct lenders to reduce or even stop lending to firms included on a list of polluters compiled by SEPA.

Many small polluters rely on private borrowing from relatives and friends instead of bank credit for capital, Pan said.

China, the world’s second-largest energy user and possibly the largest polluter, has pledged to reduce energy use and pollution through a more sustainable development approach.

The country also plans to launch similar taxation, trade and insurance policies that encourage environmentally friendly goals, but the implementation would not be easy, Pan said.

“The obstacles met by green credit have shown the difficulties in changing current trends and rules,” he said.

Reporting by Zhou Xin, editing by Kirby Chien

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