China sacrifices economic growth to reduce emissions

14:04, November 29, 2010      

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The U.N. Climate Change Conference was held in Cancun, Mexico on Nov. 29. As an active participant in the meeting, China has made great efforts to promote energy conservation this year even at the cost of slowing economy growth.

In October, some of the energy intensive and high-emission enterprises in Guangxi, Hebei and other places received notice from local governments to stop operation. This is one of the important measures taken by government to reach the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) emission reduction targets. This is part of the early warning program of energy conservation.

Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sept. 13 in Tianjin while attending the fourth annual Summer Davos that in order to achieve emission reduction targets, "we have developed indicators to reduce high energy-consumption enterprises in the second half, including the elimination of small thermal power plants, small iron and steel plants, cement plants and other high energy-consuming enterprises. We are willing to achieve this goal at the cost of reducing GDP growth rate. "

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of this year, China's economic growth increased by 11.9 percent, 10.3 percent in the second quarter and 9.6 percent in the third quarter. This gradual decline is partly due to the government's efforts to rein in the development of energy-intensive, polluting industries, which will contribute to economic and social sustainable development.

Because 2010 is the last year to achieve the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) emission reduction targets, governments at all levels are intensifying their efforts. In many areas local governments even stopped the supply of power to energy intensive and high-emission enterprises, or other emergency measures such as shut-down maintenance for those enterprises.

China attaches great importance to energy conservation. This is a strategic decision made for China's sustainable development and long-term interests of mankind. This decision is critical at a time when economic and social development is limited by resources, energy and environmental factors and human survival is facing the threat of global climate change

During the 30 years of reform and opening up, China's economy has maintained an average annual growth rate of more than 9 percent, and overall national strength and people's living standards have greatly improved. However, due to excessive dependence on energy resources, energy resource use efficiency is low. This not only has caused great waste, but also brought serious environmental pollution, seriously hampered the sustainable development of China's economy and society, affecting quality-of-life improvements.

To this end, since 2006, the State Council officially launched a comprehensive energy reduction program to speed up the elimination of backward production capacity, reduce backward production facilities in the industries of power, steel, building materials, electrolytic aluminum, ferroalloy, calcium carbide, coke, coal, glass, etc. By 2010, China's energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP will be reduced from 1.22 tons of standard coal in 2005 to below 1 ton of standard coal, about 20 percent lower.

To ensure the realization of these goals, China adopted a series of unprecedented economic, legal and necessary administrative means, including the leadership accountability system for local government leaders who failed to fulfill the reduction targets.

During the past five years, the central government invested about 200 billion yuan in energy-saving projects, driving a total investment of about 2 trillion yuan in the whole country for energy saving.

From 2006 to 2009, China reduced small thermal power plants of 60 million kilowatts, eliminated backward production capacity of 87.12 million tons of iron production, 60.38 million tons of backward steelmaking capacity; 214 million tons of backward cement production capacity, equivalent to saving 110 million tons of standard coal. This year, China is expected to shut down small thermal power plants of 10 million kilowatts, eliminate backward iron production capacity of 25 million tons, steel making of 6 million tons, cement production capacity of 50 million tons and will save 16 million tons of standard coal.

Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission said since the start of the 11th Five-Year Plan period, China has made important progress in energy conservation. The effectiveness of China's energy reduction efforts is in the forefront in the world. When the 11th Five-Year Plan emission reduction task is completed, the total energy saving in China will reach more than 600 million tons of standard coal, equivalent to reduce more than 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

In this regard, deputy director Li Zuojun at the Institute of Resources and Environmental Policy of the Development Research Center of the State Council said, that China's efforts will make an important contribution to dealing with global climate change and will accumulate experience as well as lay the foundation for the future energy saving.

Li said the new policies effectively promote China's economic development mode and structural adjustment, and slows the shortage of resources and ease environmental damage pressure.

In addition, for the development of a low-carbon, circular and green economy, China issued 10 industrial restructuring and revitalization plans, and recently released strategic decisions to accelerate the development of new industries. China plans to use the next 20 years to improve the overall innovation capability and level of industrial development of seven new strategic emerging industries, such as energy-saving environmental protection, information technology and others, in order to reach the world advanced level.

Xie said that in the next five years, China will drastically reduce energy consumption intensity, carbon dioxide emissions intensity and emissions of major pollutants as important binding targets and continue to strengthen energy conservation work and accelerate the construction of resource-saving environment-friendly society.

By Huang Beibei, People's Daily Online


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