Fight hard and long to save environment, Wen tells nation

By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-06 07:58
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BEIJING - Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday urged the nation to fight "a tough and prolonged battle" against pollution to conserve energy and protect the environment in 2010, as time to meet the five-year green targets is running out.

He assured that China will play an active role to seek progress on international cooperation on climate change, while improving adaptation and mitigation capabilities domestically amid the gloomy outlook of reaching a global deal to slow down warming.

After the Copenhagen climate conference last December failed to reach a substantial internationally binding deal, all eyes are on the next high-profile gathering in Mexico at the end of the year.

"We will increase forest carbon and expand forest coverage by at least 5.92 million hectares in 2010 and strive to build an industrial system and consumption pattern with low carbon emissions," the premier said while delivering his government work report.

China has announced it will cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of economic growth by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the levels in 2005.

The country also aims to increase its energy saving capacity by an equivalent of 80 million tons of standard coal this year.

Over the first four years of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) period, China's energy consumption per unit of economic growth fell 14.38 percent, Wen said.

For some experts, this result falls short of expectation, with less than a year left for the country to realize a 20-percent cut in energy intensity by the end of 2010.

"By the end of 2008, China witnessed a 12.4-percent drop in energy intensity. So our previous expectation for 2009 was to push the figure to 16 percent," Chen Ying, vice-director of the sustainable development center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying on on Thursday.

Cao Jing, a research fellow at Tsinghua University, was optimistic that the country can still meet its target by the end of this year.

"Efforts on energy efficiency improvement in the industrial sectors have paid off, especially in the power and cement industries," Cao said.

But she warned that the transportation sector will face more pressure in the coming years with the number of private cars soaring.

Chemical oxygen demand (COD) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, the major water and air pollutants, decreased 9.66 percent and 13.14 percent respectively, Wen said.

The 2010 environmental target is to bring down emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent from 2005 levels.