China moves to act against climate change

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The world's second largest economy and major energy consumer believes in real actions in energy conservation and emissions reduction in addition to international talks and cooperation in climate change.

In China's capital city of Beijing, the nation's top leaders in the past week have stressed the importance of speeding up the elimination of outdated industrial production capacities and enhancing energy conservation and emissions control in a key annual economic conference that concluded on Wednesday.

In local regions, provincial governments are also on the move. The government of eastern Jiangxi province said it will strictly control and halt the approval of investment projects in areas where local authorities fail to eradicate outdated capacities according to schedule.

In the southern powerhouse of Guangdong, the provincial government has signed administrative liability papers for emissions reduction targets with municipal governments.

Zhu Xiaodan, acting governor of Guangdong, said that the province will continue to promote energy conservation and emissions reduction through restructuring. Local governments risk not having their projects approved if they do not meet emissions control requirements.

Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei said that China has succeeded in recent years in closing down outdated industrial production capacities.

The Chinese government aimed to reduce energy intensity per unit of economic output by 20 percent during 2006-2010. Government data showed the country realized a 19.1-percent reduction -- a number very close to the original target. During the period, the total output of sulfur dioxide and COD were down 14.29 percent and 12.45 percent, respectively, compared to the previous five-year period.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) showed that China made tremendous achievements in outdated capacity elimination last year. The nation shuttered 41 million tonnes, 11.86 million tonnes, and 140.31 million tonnes of outdated capacities in iron-smelting, steel-making and cement production, respectively, in 2010.

In the same year, 16.9 million kilowatts of outdated capacity in electric power generation and 231 million tonnes of outdated coal-producing capacity were phased out.

The China National Building Materials Company Limited (CNBM), the world's largest cement producer, on Thursday set up a branch in the southwestern city of Chengdu, marking the beginning of the reorganization of the cement market in southwest China.

Lei Qianzhi, president of the China Cement Association, said it's an internal need and a future trend to regroup and concentrate current capacity instead of developing new capacity in the cement industry.

Lei said the southwestern region faces an absolute excessive production capacity and low-level industrial concentration. Rough calculations show that fewer than five cement makers have an annual production capacity over 10 million tonnes.

According to CNBM's plan, the company will regroup over 100 small cement makers in the next two to three years and form 100 million tonnes of cement production capacity, which will account for up to 25 percent of the market in the region at that time.

The cement industry in China scrapped 340 million tonnes of outdated cement production capacity from 2006 to 2010. The country has set a further goal of eliminating another 250 million tonnes in the next five years.

After 14 days of talks in Durban, South Africa, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference this December agreed on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, saving the world's only legally-binding treaty on curbing climate change from collapse.

China, which does not have mandatory emissions cuts obligations under the protocol, has made its own commitment. The country first promulgated its control on greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, when it pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2020.

By 2015, it aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 17 percent compared to the level in 2010, according to its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Meanwhile, it plans to cut energy intensity per unit of GDP by 16 percent.

Miao Wei said these targets are challenging, revealing that China is facing great challenges in achieving its annual target of reducing energy consumption this year as the expansion of high-energy-consuming industries fuels energy demand. Energy consumption per unit of industrial value-added output only dropped 2.56 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters, which was far below the annual target of 4 percent.

Miao said that the ministry would make greater efforts in pushing forward energy conservation and emissions reduction this year by strictly controlling the number of new projects that are polluting and highly demanding of energies.

Confronted with the grave situation, Shandong province in east China has "blacklisted" 288 energy-intensive companies with high emissions while ordering 40 of them to scale back or halt production.

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