Minister: CPI, carbon emissions to be capped

08:34, March 07, 2011      

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A top Chinese planning official said Sunday in Beijing that inflation in February dropped from the high levels in the previous months, which bodes well for the government's job to curb price rises.

Most significantly, the country has the capability of keeping grain and basic utility prices at relatively stable levels, said Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a press conference held by the ongoing National People's Congress.

Analysts expect the consumer price index, a major gauge of inflation, came down a little bit to 4.7 percent in February from 4.9 percent the month before. Inflation surged to 5.1 percent in November last year.

China's grain reserves have reached 40 percent of annual consumption, much higher than the world standard of 17 to 18 percent, Zhang Ping said. He added that the nation's wheat reserves stood at 100 billion kilograms, about one year's output, which is sufficient to ensure market supply.

"The price regulation still faces pressure and risks, and we should not take it lightly," Zhang said.

He pledged increased fiscal support for major grain-growing areas to ensure the eighth straight bumper grain harvest this year. And he said farm produce reserves should be better regulated to cope with price fluctuations.

Carbon intensity goals

In order to meet the central government's goal of reducing energy usage intensity by 20 percent by the end of 2010 from the level five years ago, some Chinese local governments had gone wild to cut electricity supplies.

Zhang admitted that the NDRC, which is in charge of energy saving and emission cut, was inexperienced at dealing with such wrong practices, and should be hold responsible for it. "We will not repeat such mistakes," he said.

China will take measures to fulfill its promise of cutting carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, said Zhang Ping.

The country wants to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP, or carbon intensity, by up to 45 percent by 2020, essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency though not an absolute cap on emissions.

Zhang said specific goals are set in the draft 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), including cutting energy consumption by 16 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent, per unit of GDP from 2010 levels as well as slashing major pollutant emissions by 8 to 10 percent.

"These are effective measures in response to climate change," Zhang said.

Responsibility for meeting the targets will be divided among regions and related businesses, making it "mandatory and binding", Zhang said.

Assessments of an official's performance will, in part, depend on how well he implemented the measures, he said.

The draft plan, which is still being reviewed by NPC deputies, also promotes the increasing use of clean energy by raising the percentage of non-fossil fuels in the energy mix to 11.4 percent from 8.3 percent in 2010.

Expenditure on green projects will be increased, while enterprises that consume high levels of fossil fuel and cause pollution will find their growth curtailed, he added.

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