27 April 2009 | Jake Kanter
Government authorities in China have been urged to use their 293 billion yuan (£28.6 billion) spending power to buy more "green" products.
The China State Council - headed by Premier Wen Jiabao - published an order on its website this month announcing the introduction of tougher rules to enforce the procurement of energy-saving goods.
It required eco-friendly products to be given priority in future public purchasing in a bid to make economic growth in the country "cleaner".
The steps reinforced measures introduced in 2004 that required public sector buyers to give "preferential treatment" to a list of energy-efficient products, as well as goods developed by Chinese nationals. These include products such as fluorescent lamps, IT equipment and televisions.
But Ping Wang, a lecturer at Nottingham University and an expert in Chinese procurement law, said the order was just a "political instruction" and not legally binding.
"If the Chinese government really wants this to work, it needs something more concrete," he said.
Wang said China had a record of "poor implementation" of existing sustainable purchasing policies and the move was an attempt to turn
Professor Wang Conghu, from Renmin University of China, said tougher green procurement rules would encourage suppliers to produce efficient products and become more innovative.
He said increased sustainable procurement would produce savings for the local authorities.
Meanwhile, the Finnish government also made a commitment to sustainable purchasing this month, which will mean public sector bodies have to assess the environmental impact of all of their purchases from 2015.
Authorities will also be required to buy more renewable energy and construct a greater number of low-energy buildings as part of the plans.