China / Society

Carbon output, energy use drop in 1st half of '14

By Lan Lan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-14 07:06

Conservation effort gets boost from restructuring and slowing economy

Carbon emissions and energy consumption fell in the first half of the year, thanks to efforts to boost environmental protection combined with a slowdown in the rate of economic expansion.

The country's carbon intensity - the amount of carbon emitted for each unit of GDP - declined by 5 percent, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Wednesday.

Its energy intensity - the amount of energy consumed for each unit of GDP - fell by 4.2 percent, according to the commission, the nation's top economic planner.

Both indexes recorded the most significant cut since 2011, helping the nation to attain its targets for the first three and a half years of the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), said Li Junfeng, director-general of the National Center of Climate Change Strategy Research.

"The results for the first half were positive, but we need to maintain our efforts as the challenges ahead remain tough," he added.

The country aims to cut its energy intensity by 16 percent and its carbon intensity by 17 percent by 2015. It failed to reach its goals for the first three years.

The government's efforts to restructure the economy resulted in slower growth of energy-guzzling industries such as cement, plate glass, petroleum processing and power generation in the first half, according to the NDRC.

The energy conservation service industry and the environmental protection industry saw rapid growth during the same period. Revenues of listed companies in these sectors edged up by more than 20 percent year-on-year.

Growth rates of clean energies such as hydro-electricity, wind and nuclear outpaced that of thermal power during the same period, said the commission.

The slowdown in economic expansion played a positive role in energy conservation and emissions reduction, said Li. The economy grew at 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first half, slowing from 7.7 percent the previous year.

Increasing scrutiny and supervision of local governments' performance in saving energy and cutting emissions also played an important role, he said.

The central government has been under considerable pressure to act because of the heavy smog that often hangs over major cities. A slew of measures have been introduced since the second half of last year.

"The latest numbers indicate that the results of those actions and programs were quite positive," said Li Yan, head of Greenpeace East Asia's Climate and Energy Campaign.

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