Chinese rural enterprises -- big polluters in the country -- are finding ways
of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under a new
Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a technological
transformation program is helping 100 rural enterprises save China 451,000 tons
of coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.13 million tons annually, vice
minister of agriculture Wei Chaoan said Thursday.
Only eight firms signed up for the project in March 2001 when it was launched
with a fund of 8 million U.S. dollars from GEF.
The project aims to help Chinese rural enterprises in the brick-making,
cement, foundry and coking sectors reduce GHG emissions by improving their
Statistics show rural enterprises in the four sectors account for 16.7
percent of China's carbon dioxide emissions and use up 56 percent of the energy
consumed by all Chinese rural firms.
China has 23 million rural enterprises, producing 30 percent of the country's
gross domestic product (GDP) and providing 143 million unskilled farmers with
"These enterprises used to be bedeviled with environmental problems such as
low energy efficiency, high consumption and heavy pollution", said Wang Xiwu, an
official with the Project of Energy Efficiency and GHG Emissions Reduction for
Chinese Rural Enterprises.
The 100 rural enterprises were chosen as "role models" to encourage more
firms to take part in the program, as well as to exhibit the government's
resolution in reducing greenhouse gas.
According to Wei, an increasing number of rural enterprises have voluntarily
signed mid- and long-term pledges with local governments, promising to reduce
energy consumption and GHG emissions, said Bai Jinming, an official with the
Ministry of Agriculture.
The government in turn have allowed them to enjoy preferential policies in
tax payments, fund raising and technological research, said Bai.
As a developing country, China is not obligated to meet targets set by the
Kyoto Protocol, under which 38 industrialized countries must reduce their GHG
emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels, during the period 2008
But the Chinese government realized it must do its part to slow global
warming as the country has become the world's second largest carbon dioxide
emitter and is likely to overtake the United States in the near future.
Carbon dioxide is produced by burning coal, oil and gas for heat, power and
transportation and scientists believe it is a major contributor to global
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this year "the current macro-control
policy must focus on energy conservation and emission reduction in order to
develop the economy while protecting the environment".
The challenge of reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions has proved
arduous as China's economy grew 11.1 percent in the first quarter but power
consumption surged 14.9 percent, suggesting there had been no major changes in
the country's overall emissions trend.
China has set a target of reducing energy consumption for every 10,000 yuan
(1,298 U.S. dollars) of GDP by 20 percent by 2010, while pollutant discharge
should drop by 10 percent.
But energy consumption fell only 1.23 percent last year, well short of the
annual goal of four percent.
The Chinese government has vowed to advance reforms in the pricing of natural
gas, water and other resources, raise the tax levied on the discharge of
pollutants, establish a "polluter pays" system and severely punish those who
violate environmental protection laws.
"Without an efficient method of economic growth, China's natural resources
and the environment will not be able to sustain its economic development", said
"We have no choice but to develop in an economical, clean and safe way", he