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China's Sulfur Dioxide Discharge Tops World List
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China's national environmental watchdog said at a news conference Thursday that the country had discharged 25.49 million tons of sulfur dioxide in 2005, which put it top of a world list for such discharges. 

The figure is 27 percent greater than in 2000, said the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), who noted that 21.684 million tons came from industrial releases and 3.89 million tons from living discharges.

Each ton of discharge could cause 20,000 yuan (about US$2,500) of economic loss, said Li Xinmin, deputy director of SEPA's air pollution department. Using these figures it means China could have suffered a total loss of 509.8 billion yuan (US$63.625 billion) in 2005.

Li said China's coal consumption increased by more than 800 million tons over 2001-2005 period. Of that 500 million tons was used by the power industry. "Coal accounts for 70 percent of China's energy consumption and this fact is hard to change in the short term," he said.

Li explained that 80 percent of the coal was used for direct combustion and coal-fired power plants had burnt half of the total coal in China which generated large amounts of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide and soot.

The country, with only about 5 million kilowatt capacity of desulfurization facilities put into operation by 2000, has been promoting such facilities among thermal power plants.

By the end of 2005 there was 142 desulfurization projects either completed or under construction for major in-service thermal power plants with a total installed capacity of approximately 50 million kilowatts.

In its early Outline of the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Plan for National Economic and Social Development, it was promised that a ten percent reduction of the country's total sulfur dioxide emissions would be achieved by 2010.

The country's annual sulfur dioxide discharges must be controlled at no more than 22.95 million tons to achieve this. "This is a compulsory target," said Li.

SEPA has signed a set of documents with China's six largest electricity power companies, who are responsible for more than 60 percent of the country's total discharges, which will result in them reducing their emission to set levels.

(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2006)

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