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Nation Sets Emission Reduction Goal of 2020
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China proposes to reduce emissions by millions of tons over the next 20 years in an effort to help reduce global warming through energy-saving technologies.

Minister of Construction Wang Guangtao said yesterday China will lessen its greenhouse emissions by 846 million tons annually if all new buildings were installed with energy-saving technologies.The construction sector takes up nearly 40 per cent of China's total energy consumption.

By 2020, China's per capita living space will be double what it is now, as 30 billion square metres of housing will have been constructed.

"If all of the national energy-saving standards have been fully implemented by 2020, China will be greatly contributing towards curbing global warming," said Wang.

At yesterday's opening ceremony of an international exhibition and forum on green and smart buildings in Beijing, Wang did not link the proposed emission cuts to the international cleaner development mechanism (CDM) projects currently under the framework of the UN's Kyoto Protocol.

Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing said the potential emission reduction could bring "many business opportunities" for domestic real estate developers, who are allowed to trade the reduced emission quota to developed countries.

Under CDM, developed countries can carry out emission-reduction projects in developing countries through financial and technical cooperation, and this would count towards their emission targets.

Wang said China has already set "year-to-year targets" in its national energy-saving campaign in real estate development.

By 2010, all new buildings should be 50 percent more energy efficient than 2005 and 65 percent more efficient by 2020.

The government plans to save 20 percent of energy by 2010 on the basis of 2005 consumption.

Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan yesterday said the campaign was crucial because the country continued to face shortages of resources. "If we don't take action now the situation will become worse," said Zeng.

To make the buildings more energy efficient, Qiu said environmental impact evaluations would be carried out during construction and when choosing what materials and machinery to install.

The exhibition included innovative ideas such as using solar cookers in kitchens, setting-up smart wind power generators above buildings and letting intelligent systems control heating or cooling.

Statistics show only 15 percent of China's new buildings since 2000 can be called environmentally friendly, and this may be due to the extra cost associated with more environmentally friendly buildings.

"The extra cost is the major reason why the market is slow to react to the campaign," said Zhang Jun, a Beijing-based real estate developer.

To encourage the promotion of energy-saving buildings, Zhang said the government should put in place an economic incentive mechanism, for example, preferential tax reductions on such buildings.

(China Daily March 29, 2006)

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