China to cap energy use at 4 bln tonnes of coal equivalent by 2015

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China will cap its total energy consumption at 4 billion tonnes of coal equivalent by 2015, said Zhang Guobao, former head of the country's National Energy Administration, on Friday.

The amount is set as a mandatory ceiling in the draft 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015), Zhang told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. He is a member of the Standing Committee of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The five-year period will see an average annual increase of 4.24 percent in energy use, he said. Last year, 3.2 billion tonnes of coal equivalent was consumed, Zhang added. .

"The task of energy conservation and emission cuts is arduous", he said, as he compared the growth of energy use with the 7 percent of annual economic expansion set by the central government during the five years to 2015.

China's economic boom in recent years has been fueled by rising consumption of energy. However, inefficient use of energy and pollution has posed a threat to sustainable and balanced growth.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Feb. 27 that China would never exchange a high economic growth rate at the cost of harming the environment. He said China would set annual economic growth target at 7 percent during the five years to 2015, lower than the 7.5 percent goal set for the five years through 2010.

Wen also said that China aimed to cut the amount of energy and carbon dioxide emissions needed for every unit of gross domestic product by 16 to 17 percent from this year to the end of 2015.

The two targets are also included in the five-year blueprint, Zhang said, as he called for more efforts to promote energy conservation and emission cuts.

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