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Reducing emissions and dealing with climate change, together
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A press conference on the progress of China's emission reduction commitment and climate change agenda was held on September 27 at the National Day media center in Beijing. Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Xie Zhenhua and Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun addressed the press.

In its 11th five-year plan (2006-10) the Chinese government set obligatory goals to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 10 percent and major pollution by 20 percent from 2005 levels. A national plan to tackle climate change was also formulated for the five-year period, with targets to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the primary energy supply by 10 percent and increase China's forest coverage to 20 percent.

From 2006 to 2008, actual energy consumption per unit of GDP reduced by 10.1 percent, while sulfur dioxide emissions and chemical oxygen demand (COD) decreased by 8.9 percent and 6.61 percent, respectively according to Xie. The first half of 2009 saw energy consumption per unit of GDP decrease by an additional 3.35 percent, while sulfur dioxide emissions and COD further reduced by 5.4 percent and 2.46 percent. Renewable energy accounted for 9 percent of the primary energy supply and forest coverage reached 18.21 percent in 2008. Economic measures have been extremely effective in both strengthening the supervisory system and reducing emissions. For example, the government rewards enterprises that use energy-saving technologies and offer preferential policies such as tax reduction to environment-friendly companies. Consumers who buy energy-saving bulbs will get 50 percent of compensation and enterprises can get 30 percent.

For China's 12th five-year plan, covering the years 2011-15, the government plans to step up emission reduction through projects and by restructuring industry patterns and strengthening environmental supervision and law enforcement.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has said that technology and finance will be key factors in addressing the universal problem of climate change. Likewise necessary is global cooperation through the common adoption of action plans, such as the Bali Roadmap, which proposes the transfer of climate-friendly technologies from developed countries to developing countries. Countries have also begun to work together to develop innovative technology. For example, the joint institute of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), initiated by China, is establishing research labs with the U.S. and Europe.

Meanwhile, China and the other member nations of the Group of 77 are discussing ways to protect the technology equity of enterprises through government guidance and market operation. Xie said it was likely that the international community would reach a consensus before the Copenhagen conference.

(China.org.cn by Ren Zhongxi, September 28, 2009)

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