China released its first green development index on December 26, which ranks local government performances on ecological development and helps promote high-quality development.
In the 2016 green development index ranking, Beijing and the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang were the top three areas, while Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were the lowest.
The index covers 55 indicators, including energy consumption efficiency, carbon emissions, air quality, per-capita disposable income, as well as research and development spending.
Jointly released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, it will be used to review local government performance on ecological development, and the results will be a key reference in the promotion of officials and punishment for wrongdoing.
Published along with the index, a separate survey of public satisfaction on ecological development showed that Tibet and the provinces of Guizhou and Hainan ranked top three, while the capital city and neighboring Hebei and Tianjin were bottom.
Commenting on the divergent rankings, head of the NBS Ning Jizhe said the green development index came from "objective evaluation" while the public survey reflected "subjective feeling."
"By evaluating the overall progress of ecological civilization development during the past year, the annual evaluation will guide all regions to push forward green development and implementation of policies concerning ecological civilization development," Ning said in a statement on the NBS website.
The green development index system comes amid efforts to push high-quality development and shift away from the practice of pursuing fast economic growth at the expense of the environment.
Yang Weimin, deputy head of the office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs, said China did not have the conditions to pursue high-speed growth, due to upgraded consumption, a shrinking labor force, financial risks, as well as resource and environmental constraints.
"If China ignores these realities and continues to be obsessed with fast growth rates, the concomitant risks will outweigh GDP growth," Yang said.
The country's economic development has entered a "new era," and the basic feature is that the economy has shifted from high-speed growth to high-quality development, according to a statement issued last week after the annual Central Economic Work Conference.
To adapt to the transition, the country will create new indicators, policies, standards, statistical and performance assessment systems.
"The evaluation system based on the green development index, which coordinates economic and social development with environmental improvement, meets the requirement for pushing high-quality development," NBS chief statistician Sheng Laiyun said.