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China Aiming to Reduce Coal and Oil Dependence
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Despite soaring demand, China will seek to level out and steadily reduce its dependence and usage of coal and oil by 2010, the country's top economic planner has revealed.


The change, announced in an NDRC report yesterday, was directed by the impact of coal mining on both human and environmental resources as well as rising oil prices.


The report sets 2010 target coal as making up 66.1 percent of the national energy consumption, down from 69.1 in 2005 with oil down to 20.5 percent, down from 21.


Reversely, natural gas will be more heavily relied upon, with its share rising from 2.8 percent to 5.3. Nuclear and hydro power will also be tapped, along with other forms of renewable energy to hit 8.1 percent from the 2005 levels of 7.1 percent.


As China has become more reliant on coal in recent years, a relaxation of safety controls and widespread illegal mining have caused a slew of fatal accidents and led to the contamination of water resources.


"Coal's dominant role in our energy consumption structure has caused many environmental and social problems and has brought about a grave challenge for sustained development," the plan said.


Simultaneously, the country has been buffeted by soaring international oil prices.


Zhou Dadi, director of the NDRC's energy research institute, warned that both coal and oil consumption should be curbed due to global warming.


This latest objective tacks on to previously-announced plan, which if met would see China reduce energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of GDP by 2010.


Energy prices will be altered and raised to encourage more conservation, although policy-makers are wary of an inflation backlash and of placing a too-important burden on lower-income workers.  


The latest plan announced an annual growth in energy production of 3.5 percent during the 2006-10 period, which would see the total energy output amount to 2.45 billion tons of coal equivalent in 2010.


The plan will face difficulties in an expected annual 4 percent consumption growth rate, amouting to 2.7 billion tons of coal equivalent, dwarfing the effective output.


(China Daily April 11, 2007)


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