Officials and experts have contested a recent report that said China had for the first time overtaken the United States as the world's top producer of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The report, released on Tuesday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said China overtook the US in emissions of CO2 by 8 percent in 2006. While China was 2 percent below the US in 2005, coal consumption and increased cement production had caused the numbers to rise rapidly.
The study said China, which relies on coal for two-thirds of its energy needs and makes 44 percent of the world's cement, produced 6.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. In comparison, the US, which gets half of its electricity from coal, produced 5.8 billion metric tons of CO2, it said.
"It is meaningless to compare China's national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with those of other countries, as China has the world's largest population," Cui Cheng, deputy director of the energy research institute at the National Development and Reform Commission.
Qin Gang, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: "China's gas emissions per capita are far below that of developed countries.
"Take China and the Netherlands. China's annual per capita figure is 3.66 tons, while for the Dutch it is 11.4 tons, about three times higher. China's emissions are just at survival levels."
Qin said developed countries were also responsible for the high levels, as they had moved their factories to China.
"On one hand, they boost their production in China, on the other, they denounce the country's high emission levels. It is unfair."
China released 5.6 billion tons of CO2 equivalents in 2004, according to China's National Climate Change Program.
(China Daily June 22, 2007)