China will put in place carbon dioxide emissions targets for its economic and social development programs, the central government has promised.
The change marks a new phase in China's pledge to tackle climate change and global warming with the international community.
It also signals that China may be considering national goals for carbon dioxide levels when it maps its 12th five-year national development plan (2011-15).
The central government unveiled the change at Friday's State Council meeting on climate change and vowed to help the international community achieve "positive results" at the UN Copenhagen climate change talks in December.
The announcement was made on World Environmental Day at the meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao and is likely to be seen as a clear indication that China's leadership is committed to the success of the talks in Copenhagen and climate change discussions involving 181 UN members in Bonn right now.
China was not obliged to meet binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, and has emphasized energy-saving efforts in its five-year plan during 2006-10.
At Friday's meeting, the State Council also promised to name and shame provincial governments that fail to meet their 2008 targets of energy conservation and emission control.
According to an accountability system unveiled in 2007, leading provincial officials who fail to meet the targets would not be promoted in future.
The changes were part of an eight-point policy package unveiled by the central government. The government concluded that China has made "important progress" in energy-saving and emission control during the previous three years.
Compared to the 20 percent energy-saving target, China has already cut 10.1 percent per unit of GDP from 2006-08.
Despite the successes, the government admitted China still faces a "severe situation" and "pressing tasks" in energy conservation and emission control. All provincial and local governments are being asked to strictly control energy-gorging and polluting projects.
And the government will continue to phase out polluting production techniques in the iron, steel and cement sectors and demolish small coal-fired electricity generators.
The government will support 13 cities in research and development as well as promotion and sales of cars powered by new energy.
Included in the policy package, the government will subsidize 120 million electricity-saving lightbulbs nationwide. Estimates suggest the savings from using the new bulbs could equal the energy output of China's biggest power plant, the Three-Gorges Hydro-power Station.
(China Daily June 6, 2009)