World

Chinese energy plan reject caps on greenhouse gases

China unveiled its first national program aimed at combating global warming on Monday, but it's modest in scope and offers few firm targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Country insists economic development comes first

China unveiled its first national program aimed at combating global warming on Monday, but it's modest in scope and offers few firm targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The 62-page report said China is taking steps toward improving energy efficiency over 2005 levels by as much as 20 per cent by the year 2010.It said a top priority was to tackleChina's own environmental problems.

China's top economic planner said the country will not submit to any outside targets and won't let its industrial development be hampered by any fight in the West against global warming.

"The consequences of restricting the development of developing nations will be much more serious than the consequences of global warming," said Ma Kai, the minister heading the National Development and Reform Commission.

Ma stressed that the bulk of responsibility for battling climate change still lies with industrialized countries, which "are in a better position to cap emissions." Developing nationslike Chinaremainfocused oneradicatingpoverty, he said.

China signed on to Kyoto because it's a developing country it's not bound by the accord's gas emissions targets, the report said.

"Although we are not committed to quantified emissions reduction, it does not mean we do not want to shoulder our share of responsibilities," the minister said.

"We must reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection," he told reporters. "In its course of modernization, China will not tread the traditional path of industrialization, featuring high consumption and high emissions.

"In fact, we want to blaze a new path to industrialization."

The report said China would put more emphasis on measures to save energy and cut the discharge ofpollutants by gradually reforming the pricing system of fuels, such as oil and coal,to reflect their true scarcity and impact on the environment.

China relies on coal to meet two-thirds of its energy needs and is projected to surpass the United States as the world's number one producer of greenhouse gases sometime within the next two years.

Implementation will 'cost a fortune'

The Chinese plan also calls forexpanded research intoanduse of new energy-saving technologies, improvement of agriculture infrastructure, increased tree planting and water resource management, and greater public awareness of the issue.

Ma said implementation will "cost a fortune," but did not elaborate, stressing that it would be an investment in prevention.

China'seconomy has been growing at better thannine per cent annually over the past 25 years, and if that continues, the plan's overall effect, if implemented, would be to slow the increase in greenhouse gases, not reduce their absolute amount.

Monday's release of the report seemed in part an attempt to pre-empt criticism of China's environmental policies.

China has fallen under increasing pressure internationally to take more forceful measures to curb releases of greenhouse gases.

With files from the Associated Press

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