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Conserving Energy Crucial
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Developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency will help China achieve a balance between its economic development and environmental protection, a top environment expert said.


"The demand comes from not only the country's big size, huge population and fast economic growth, but also that many developing countries look to China as an example to work out a good climate and energy policy," said Gerd Leipold, international executive director of Greenpeace, one of the world's most well-known environmental groups.


Meanwhile, the country only has one year to prepare for the next UN Climate Change Conference, when China will have to join other countries in limiting greenhouse gas emissions.


An efficient energy policy will help China fulfil its commitment to the international community, he said. He added it is in China's own interests to cut emissions.


Leipold said developing countries no doubt need to increase their energy supply, but the increase should come from renewable energy and efficient use.


"It is certainly very challenging, but I think in a harmonious society, an efficient modern energy system will produce less pollution, modern industry and healthier air quality," he said.


China has huge environmental problems, such as water pollution, air pollution, agricultural land loss and pesticide use, according to Leipold. "But the government has recognized it and done good work," he said. "I have the impression it has given more priority to it than in the past."


For example, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in 2004 set a standard that losses caused by environmental pollution should account for no more than 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).


"It is good for SEPA to define a green GDP," he said. "More countries should use it as a guide for environmental policy."


But it is still not enough, Leipold said. The country should strengthen law enforcement in the environmental field. He suggested the government give SEPA full ministerial status.


This year, Greenpeace carried out a lot of environmental campaigns in China. For example, it helped the Chinese Government push the use of renewable energy, especially on the drafting of a renewable energy law.


It also successfully made a number of big computer companies, which produce mostly in China, such as Acer, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, promise not to use toxic materials in their computers.


Next year, in line with the organization's worldwide priorities, climate change will still be a top priority, Leipold said.


(China Daily November 27, 2006)

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