World Bank is alleged to have cut from a report research that
suggests pollution causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths
annually in China.
Beijing has just reported its worst pollution
for June in seven years
The move followed pressure from Beijing, which believes the
material is too sensitive and could lead to social unrest, said the
UK's Financial Times.
It said information was cut from the forthcoming report after
requests from two Chinese government departments.
The World Bank told the BBC the final version had not yet been
But a statement added: "[A preliminary] version of the report did
not include some of the issues that are still under discussion."
The Financial Times said the Bank report, entitled 'Cost of
Pollution in China', found up to 760,000 people die prematurely each
year in China because of air and water pollution.
High levels of air pollution in China's cities leads to
350,000-400,000 premature deaths, it said. Another 300,000 die
because of poor-quality air indoors.
The newspaper article, quoting World Bank advisers and Chinese
officials, also said research showing that there are 60,000
premature deaths each year because of poor-quality water was also
left out of the report.
"The World Bank was told that it could not publish this
information. It was too sensitive and could cause social unrest,"
one adviser to the study told the Financial Times.
It said the bank "reluctantly" agreed to take out the sensitive
The World Bank told the BBC that information for the report,
which is being compiled in conjunction with the Chinese government,
was still under review.
Between 1994 and 2004, China's greenhouse gas
emissions grew by 4% a year
China currently depends on coal to meet
two-thirds of its energy needs
It hopes to raise its use of renewable energy
from 7% to 10% by 2010
China may overtake the US as the world's
largest emitter of greenhouse gases by the end of this
A World Bank spokeswoman refused to say whether or not statistics
about premature deaths were amongst the information taken out of the
Despite the apparent dispute over figures, the preliminary World
Bank report published in March suggests air and water pollution do
lead to an increased number of deaths in China.
It also says the total cost of air and water pollution in the
country amounts to about 5.8% of gross domestic product.
According to the Financial Times, China's State Environmental
Protection Administration (Sepa) and its health ministry asked the
World Bank to cut out the reference to the specific number of
The BBC could not reach anyone at Sepa to comment on the issue.
But the government department is certainly aware of China's
pollution problems. Last month it said about 60% of Chinese cities
regularly suffer from air pollution and have no centralised sewage
The final World Bank report is due to be released soon.
The organisation has previously said that China is home to 16 of
the world's 20 most-polluted cities.