30 October 2008

China says coal addiction makes climate change fight hard

AFP, October 30, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) — China warned Wednesday its heavy dependence on coal to fuel its fast-growing economy made it difficult to control greenhouse gas emissions, but said fighting global warming remained imperative.

Releasing a policy paper on climate change, the Chinese government acknowledged the deep impact global warming had already made on the world's most populous nation -- and warned of much worse to come.

"Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts, have increased in frequency and intensity," the so-called "White Paper" said.

If not alleviated, these phenomena will increase natural disasters, reduce grain yields and impact livestock raising, hampering the nation's efforts to feed its 1.3 billion people, it said.

According to the paper, China experienced 21 warm winters from 1986 to 2007, the latter being the warmest 12 months since detailed records began in 1951.

But coal, the cheapest and most plentiful source of fuel in China, will remain the nation's major energy source.

"(The) coal-dominated energy mix cannot be substantially changed in the near future, thus making the control of greenhouse gas emissions rather difficult," the paper said.

China is dependent on coal for about two thirds of its energy use, which has caused it to rise quickly in recent years as a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

It now ranks alongside the United States as one of the world's top two greenhouse gas polluters.

Nevertheless, Vice Minister of Planning Xie Zhenhua said balancing environmental protection with economic development was a top priority for the Chinese government.

"China from its own perspective must realise sustainable development, we must save energy, raise energy efficiency, develop renewable energies and adopt measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gases," Xie said.

"We must do this because there is no other road for China except the road to sustainable development."

Xie pointed to already released Chinese policies aimed at fighting global warming, such as binding targets to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010.

He said China was also "enthusiastically" expanding the use of alternative energies such as hydro, nuclear, wind and solar power.

Xie said China would remain an active participant in the United Nation's effort to fight climate change.

However he repeated China's long-held position that developed nations must take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

They must also fulfil their commitment to provide energy saving technological transfers to developing nations, he said, repeating another longstanding Chinese demand.

"I think developed nations should contribute at least 0.7 percent of their GDP to help developing nations face climate change. This can be done but up to now they are far away from this level," he said.

On the issue of ranking alongside the United States as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, Xie pointed out that China would be far lower down the scale if it was measured on a per-capita basis.

Greenpeace China's climate change campaigner Yang Aihua said China's policy paper failed to offer new proposals on how to cut back on coal use but welcomed the government's statements about the severity of global warming.

"The government is acknowledging that China will be a very big victim of climate change," Yang told AFP.

"Hopefully this will help China play a progressive and constructive role in global negotiations on greenhouse gas reductions."

Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved

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1 comment:

xingbo said...

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