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November 27, 2009

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China displays the initiative in emission goals

CHINA announced plans yesterday to cut carbon emissions by up to 45 percent, as measured against economic output.

The target is aimed at maintaining the nation's surging growth while still reining in pollution.

The announcement by the State Council, China's Cabinet, precedes next month's Copenhagen climate summit.

China vowed to cut carbon intensity - carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP - by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

The Cabinet said it "is a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government based on its own national conditions and is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change."

It said the improvements would come through better research and development, clean coal technology, advanced nuclear energy and better transport.

Tax laws and regulations would also be changed to encourage energy efficiency, it said.

In a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday, the State Council reviewed a national game plan addressing climate change.

A press statement released yesterday said the index of carbon dioxide emission cuts, announced for the first time by China, would be "a binding goal" to be incorporated into medium- and long-term national social and economic development plans.

New measures would be formulated to audit, monitor and assess its implementation, the statement said.

Qi Jianguo, an economic and environmental policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the targets would put "great pressure" on China's development.

"In 2020, the country's GDP will at least double that of now, so will the emissions of greenhouse gases," he said.

Qi, a quantitative economist who studies links between the economy and climate change, said as the world's largest developing country, China would face a great challenge.

To achieve the target, more efforts must be made besides strictly abiding by the principle of "energy-saving and emissions reductions," he said.

The government would devote major efforts to developing renewable and nuclear energies to ensure the consumption of non-fossil-fuel power accounted for 15 percent of the country's total primary energy consumption by 2020, the State Council said.

Millions more trees would be planted, the Cabinet said.

It reiterated the principled stand for implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

The State Council said China would expand cooperation with foreign countries in raising its capacity to cope with climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to pool world efforts to combat global warming, has been ratified by 184 parties to the UNFCCC since 1997, but not the United States.

Under the protocol, developed countries are required to set clear targets for emissions reductions. Developing countries such as China are not obliged to present any emissions targets.


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