China's environmental watchdog is investigating whether local officials submitted fake pollution data to the central government after failing to meet annual clean air targets, state media said Thursday.
The State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, calculated that in 2006 emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide nationwide rose 2 percent. However, according to figures submitted by 26 regional governments, emissions of the same two pollutants were reduced by 2 percent, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Chinese cities are among the world's smoggiest following two decades of breakneck economic growth.
The figures submitted by regional governments matched up with clean air targets set by the central government for the year.
The government plans to cut the emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010 _ an average 2 percent reduction per year for the next five years.
"Under the great pressure of assessment, some local governments have fabricated the environmental index," SEPA director Zhou Shengxian was quoted as saying.
Chinese leaders said in March that they would start taking energy efficiency and environmental achievements into account when evaluating local leaders' performance.
The administration will send working groups to the provinces to check the local environmental statistics, Xinhua said.
The report quoted a local official from western Gansu province as saying his colleagues downplayed the province's achievements in cutting emissions this year, so that they would be under less pressure to cut more emissions in the future.
The official, who's name was not given, said sulfur dioxide emissions were down 6 percent and carbon dioxide emissions were cut 4 percent, but that the province reported a 2 percent reduction for both.
The report did not say which provinces or regions SEPA suspected of submitting fake data or explain how the administration had independent data for all of the regions.