China unveils new energy, water efficiency goals

China has issued new targets to curb carbon output and improve efficiency in using energy and water, state media reported on Monday.

A government official announced that China aims to reduce energy use and carbon emissions per unit of economic output this year by 4%, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The government also wants to reduce water use per unit of output by 7% this year, Zhou Changyi, an official in the ministry of industry and information technology, said during a conference in Nanjing.

China’s government says it successfully completed a five-year effort last year to reduce energy use per unit of output by nearly 20% from 2005 levels.

Meeting the energy efficiency target was seen as a key marker of China’s commitment toward fighting global warming. It has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, largely because its economic development over the past three decades has relied on labour- and energy-intensive growth.

The new cuts are part of China’s wider plan to reduce both energy consumption and carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 18% over the next five years, said Deputy Minister Su Bo. The government pledged a 30% reduction in water consumption per unit of GDP over the same period, he said.

The targets are slightly higher than what China had pledged to do in its twelfth five-year plan released earlier this year during its annual congress.
In the original plan, energy use and carbon emissions would be cut by 16%, while water use would come down by 25%.

As the world’s largest carbon emitter, China had pledged to reduce its carbon use per unit of economic output by 40% to 45% by 2020 from 2005 levels as part of its contribution toward combating climate change. In essence, China has vowed to cut the rate at which it consumes energy, though not the overall amount of carbon it emits.

Government data shows China saw a 26% decline in energy use per unit of GDP in the five years to 2010, as the country closed down thousands of outdated and heavily polluting power plants.

China’s leadership has voiced a desire to shift the economy away from coal-intensive industries. Coal-fired power accounts for 70% of the country’s energy, with China consuming three-billions tons last year.—Sapa-AP

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