China drives for clean energy

China drives for clean energy
Premier Li Keqiang.

CHINA - Li stresses country's desire to conserve and cut emissions won't hurt economic growth China's stance on climate change as being of "common but differentiated responsibilities" will not be changed, but it is not an excuse for slowing down the pace of industrial restructuring, said Premier Li Keqiang.

The government will control the country's total amount of energy consumption, promote the efficiency of energy usage, and encourage the development of clean-energy industries, including those related to wind, hydro, nuclear and solar power, Li said.

"In terms of energy supply, coal power will not be the only solution for us," Li said.

Li made the remarks on Friday during a meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

Under international law, "common but differentiated responsibilities" refers to the idea that although not all countries are equally responsible for global environmental problems, they nonetheless are responsible for addressing these problems.

As a responsible country, China would like to cooperate with other countries in efforts to save energy and cut emissions, Li said.

Li urged government officials to change the thought that industrial restructuring is something that will hurt economic growth. Instead, it will bring plenty of economic opportunities for the development of new-energy industries, he said.

The government will make policies to guide the key industries, including transportation and construction companies, to save energy and tackle air pollution, Li said.

The government will take compulsory measures to finish the tasks of renovating coal-fired furnaces, eliminating yellow-label vehicles (those with high emissions), and promoting the denitrification and desulfurization of power plants, Li said.

The penalties for illegal discharges will be increased, and government bodies that have failed to monitor pollution problems will be punished for dereliction of duty, Li added.

Achieving the environmental target will be difficult because the government has to cut emissions while maintaining the momentum of economic development, but it is a must-do for the government, Li said.

"We made the promise, and we have to deliver it," he said.

According to the annual Government Work Report, released on March 5, China aims to cut energy intensity by more than 3.9 per cent, while emissions of sulfur dioxide and "chemical oxygen demand", a measure of organic pollutants in water, will both be reduced by 2 per cent.

China will strengthen energy conservation and emissions reduction and impose a ceiling on total energy consumption, said the report.

"We will declare war against pollution and fight it with the same determination we battled poverty," Li told China's lawmakers while delivering the Government Work Report.

China is facing pressure in meeting the emissions-reduction targets set in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) for environmental protection, in which China vowed to cut chemical oxygen demand and sulfur dioxide emissions by 8 per cent.

It also pledged to reduce ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide emissions by 10 per cent compared with those of 2010.

Although emissions of chemical oxygen demand, sulfur dioxide and ammonia nitrogen have dropped by over 7 per cent in the past three years, basically on target, nitrogen oxide emissions only dropped by about 2 per cent, which has created great pressure for emissions-cutting in 2014 and 2015.

Chai Fahe, deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said that the Law on Air Pollution Prevention and Control should be revised as soon as possible to ensure that illegal discharging will be strictly punished.

The government should make finance and taxation policies to encourage the research and production of clean-energy vehicles to reduce emissions, he said.

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