BEIJING - The Chinese government introduced a "green credit" guideline for commercial lenders on Friday to facilitate economic restructuring in a manner that's environmentally friendly and saves energy.
The China Banking Regulatory Commission, the top banking regulator, ordered lenders to cut loans to industries with high-energy consumption and high levels of pollution or excessive capacity, and to strengthen financial support for green industries and projects.
The CBRC encouraged banks to evaluate, classify and rate the environmental and social risks inherent in their clients' businesses and take the results as a key reference in their ratings and access to credit.
"Through credit controls, banks can have an influence on businesses' awareness of energy savings, emissions-reductions and the benefits to the public," said Yan Yanfei, deputy director-general of the statistics department at the CBRC.
He said that in the next step, the CBRC will set up some key indexes to make the guideline more specific and try to include adherence to the plan in the rating system.
Lenders also need to improve management of any overseas projects that they support, to ensure that the initiators of those projects comply with local environmental, land, healthcare and security legislation, according to the guideline.
Zhang Rong, the program manager of environment and social standards at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, said the guideline is welcome, especially given the increased involvement of Chinese enterprises in the global market, and the increasing number of calls urging the overseas projects to take more care of the local environment and to reduce energy use.