March 6, 2011

China Goes For ‘Green’

China's premier on Saturday pledged that his country, the world's leading producer of greenhouse gases, would work harder to save energy and clean up its atmosphere as it overhauls the economy over the next five years.

"We will effectively conserve resources and protect the environment. We will respond actively to climate change," Premier Wen Jiabao said in a speech opening the annual session of China's parliament, or National People's Congress.

China will seek to cut back carbon emission per unit of gross domestic product by 17 percent within the 2011-2015 period. It is looking farther ahead as well, saying it plans to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40 percent by 2020.

The country also hopes to raise the percentage of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix by 11.4 percent from 8.3 percent last year, according to the premier.

Wen said China has made "genuine progress in energy conservation, emissions reduction, ecological improvement and environmental protection" in the last five year period, and that it had enthusiastically "developed clean energy" technologies.

The premier also said energy consumption per unit of GDP fell 19.1 percent over the past five years -- close to the 20 percent target it had set back in 2006.

China plans to reduce both carbon intensity and energy consumption per unit of GDP by 3.5 percent this year alone, the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, said in a separate report.

The country has adopted a motivated plan to boost the use of clean energy such as wind and solar power and also plans to increase its use of nuclear power. Currently the country relies on high-polluting coal for more than 65 percent of its energy needs.