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Official: China Sets Sights on Clean Energy
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Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, makes a point at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.

For the climate to change for the better, the country will use as much clean energy as possible and curb the use of fossil fuels, which is largely behind global warming.


The message was delivered by the country's top weather official at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office Tuesday in Beijing.


In the first official response to the landmark United Nations report on climate change released last week, Qin Dahe, chief of the China Meteorological Administration, said the country takes the climate issue very seriously and is counteracting the problem.


"The assessment report has gripped the attention of the government, the public and scientists in China," Qin said, adding President Hu Jintao had said climate change is not just an environmental issue but is also linked to development.


Qin is co-chair of the Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which issued a grim report last Friday in Paris warning that human activity is almost certainly behind global warming.


The report's "best estimate" of temperatures rising by up to 4 C this century would cause more droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels, Qin said, citing the UN panel.


Qin conceded China's energy is heavily dependent on coal, which emits carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.


Largely because of coal burning, China is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States.


The country lacks the money and technology to switch to cleaner alternatives to coal which supplies two-thirds of the country's energy but it is only a matter of time that it moves to cleaner energies, Qin said.


"Our goal is to optimize the energy structure and use cleaner energies to the maximum extent," he said.


Qin said his agency had advised the central government to increase inputs for climate change research and also provided technological support for the government to take countermeasures.


The official said his agency has stepped up research on using wind and solar resources for alternative energies.


China has set an ambitious target of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent during the years leading up to 2010.


Energy use began to drop in the third quarter of last year, the first time in three years, and is a "positive signal" that China's efforts have begun to pay off, Xinhua quoted Xie Fuzhan, chief of the National Bureau of Statistics, as saying two weeks ago.


At a separate press conference held yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China is willing to cooperate with the international community in coping with climate change.


But she said: "It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions from developed countries and their high per-capita emissions."


She said developed countries bear an "unshirkable" responsibility and should lead the way in assuming responsibility for emission cuts.


Per capita carbon dioxide emission in China was around 2.72 tons in 2003, or less than 14 per cent of per capita emission in the US, according to information posted on the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.


(China Daily February 7, 2007)

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