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Premier: Energy consumption, pollution drops
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China reported reductions in energy consumption as well as chemical oxygen demand and total sulfur dioxide emission last year, Premier Wen Jiabao said at the annual parliament session on Wednesday.

In 2007, China saw a 3.27 percent year-on-year drop in energy consumption for each unit of GDP, Wen said in his report to the First Session of the 11th National People's Congress.

For the first time in recent years, China reported a reduction in both chemical oxygen demand and the total emission of sulfur dioxide, by 3.14 percent and 4.66 percent respectively from the previous year, he said.

Wen attributed the reductions to the nation's energy conservation and environment protection efforts in the past five years.

"We gave high priority to conserving resources and protecting the environment," he said. "Obligatory targets for saving energy and reducing emissions were set in the Outline of the 11Eleventh Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development."

He said China had shut down a large number of backward production facilities, including small thermal power plants with a total capacity of 21.57 million kW, 11,200 small coal mines, backward iron smelting facilities with a total capacity of 46.59 million tons, backward steel plants with a total capacity of 37.47 million tons and cement plants with a total capacity of 87 million tons.

Meanwhile, the country launched 10 major energy-saving projects and made breakthroughs in carrying out desulfurizing projects for coal-fired power plants, Wen said.

On the other hand, the central government provided financial support for 691 projects to prevent and control water pollution in major river valleys.

China also persisted with ecological conservation projects protecting natural forests and curbing sandstorms in Beijing and Tianjin, retiring farmland for forestation and returning grazing land to natural grasslands.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2008)

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